Lakers’ vets helping rookies with grind

When Lonzo Ball played at UCLA last year, he never felt much need to prioritize taking care of his body. With one or two games a week, there was plenty of time for him to rest while preparing for the next opponent.

But since he started playing in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers, Ball has changed his tune. The veterans on the team have taught him certain ways to take care of himself, one of which involves taking frequent ice baths.

So far, Ball has taken the advice to heart.

“At UCLA, if I really needed one, then I’d take it,” Ball said recently. “But here, I don’t go two days without taking it.”

With the Lakers a quarter of the way through the season and in the midst of a four-game East Coast road trip that spans two weeks, the team’s rookies are finding out exactly what life is like in the NBA. And the elder statesmen are guiding them through it.

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Lakers can’t keep up with Rockets

LOS ANGELES — After the Los Angeles Lakers played one of the best teams in the NBA even for a quarter, the wheels came off the bus.

The Houston Rockets outscored the Lakers 34-19 in the second quarter en route to a 118-95 win on Sunday night at Staples Center.

“We just couldn’t stop them,” Lonzo Ball said of the second frame. “They did whatever they wanted. They were knocking down shots, getting to the lane, kicking out and knocking down threes.”

Kyle Kuzma led the Lakers (8-15) with 22 points and 12 rebounds, while Brandon Ingram scored 18 points and had nine rebounds. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 16 points, and Larry Nance Jr. added 15.

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Champions again

MOORPARK — Early in the fourth quarter, the Paraclete football team’s equipment manager made a prediction after the Spirits scored a touchdown on a big play.

“We’re gonna be celebrating on their field,” he said. “Their house, our game, baby.”

His prediction came true.

The Spirits won the CIF-Southern Section Division 5 championship with a dominating 49-28 victory over the Moorpark Musketeers on Friday night on the road. It was the second consecutive division title for Paraclete, which took the D6 crown last year.

“Just super excited to do it here,” Spirits senior quarterback Brevin White said. “I’d love to do it back at home, but always a great thing to come into somebody else’s place and win.”

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Clippers edge Lakers

LOS ANGELES — The L.A. Clippers just can’t catch a break.

In the fourth quarter of their slim 120-115 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night at Staples Center, Clippers forward Blake Griffin left the game with an injury after Austin Rivers fell to the floor and landed into his left knee.

Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said Griffin was in low spirits when he spoke to his star forward sometime after the injury.

“He’s down,” Rivers said. “Right now, he’s where we are at, hoping that it was just a bang and then it hurt, and that he’ll be alright.”

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Nance practices with Lakers

EL SEGUNDO — When Larry Nance Jr. broke his left hand against the Portland Trail Blazers on Nov. 2, that initial timetable for his return was four to six weeks.

“That wasn’t my plan,” Nance said Saturday after practice.

Indeed it wasn’t. Nance participated in a full-contact practice with the team just 23 days after having his left hand surgically repaired. He expects to return to action Monday against the L.A. Clippers.

“That’s the goal as of now,” Nance said. “I would like to be back. I think the guys would like me back. Luke, I would hope, would like me back.”

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Lakers defeat Bulls

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Lakers came back from down 19 to win, 103-94, over the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night.

Kyle Kuzma led the Lakers (8-10) with 22 points and five assists, while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 21 points and Brandon Ingram had 17.

Los Angeles fell behind 61-42 after Justin Holiday made two of three free throws after being fouled on a 3-point attempt early in the third quarter. But the Lakers subbed in Julius Randle and Josh Hart, who both gave the team the energy it needed to close the gap.

The Lakers outscored the Bulls 30-19 and did not have one turnover in the third quarter after committing 13 in the first half alone.

“The biggest difference was we started playing hard, which again, goes back to crediting Julius and Josh Hart. That was the physical part of it,” Lakers head coach Luke Walton said. “Mentally, I think the guys wanted to win.”

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Ball rebounding well

LOS ANGELES — Much has been said of Lonzo Ball’s court vision – the way he makes passes no one else sees, the way he’s multiple plays ahead of everyone else on the court, the way he throws ahead to his streaking teammates in any situation for layups in transition.

But in the past two weeks, Ball has proven he’s more than just an elite passer, even though he’s only a 20-year-old rookie. He’s been rebounding at a high rate, en route to two triple-doubles in the last nine days.

His most recent came in a 127-109 win Monday night against the Denver Nuggets. He had 11 points, 11 assists and 16 rebounds, and became only the second Lakers rookie to have more than one triple-double in a season. The first? Magic Johnson.

His 16 rebounds on Monday were the most by a rookie guard since 2000. Through 17 games, Ball is averaging 7.1 rebounds per game, which ranks 41st in the entire NBA. LeBron James is 34th, at 7.8 rebounds per game.

Lakers head coach Luke Walton said at Monday’s practice that he thinks Ball is an effective rebounder because of the way he sees the game and his desire to win.

“I think he attacks the rebound for where it’s going,” Walton said. “He’s not waiting for the ball to come to him. He goes and gets it and understands angles and gets up off the ground pretty well when he’s doing those things. But I think most of it is just his anticipation of where a ball is going.”

Ball, who averages the second-most boards on the team, said he’s often in prime position to pick up rebounds because the big men for the Lakers are boxing out their man, giving him a free path to the ball.

Growing up, Ball didn’t model his game after any player, even though he’s said before that he watched film of Johnson as a kid. Instead, Ball’s rebounding comes from playing with his brothers, LiAngelo and LaMelo, and his dad, LaVar.

“I was kind of forced to rebound at a young age,” Ball said. “I was usually in the back of the press of the 2-3 zone because my brothers were smaller than me. So I usually got most of the rebounds.”

Walton said associate head coach Brian Shaw challenged Ball to focus on his rebounding in an effort to get himself going during games. The emphasis on that part of his games seems to be doing the trick.

“Yeah I guess it shows you’re more engaged just because you’re going after the ball,” Ball said. “So, like I said, it definitely helps the offense, it helps me get more into the game. So any time I can get the rebound, I try to get it. I’ve proven I can rebound. When I’m not rebounding, it’s kinda like I’m out just there floating around.”

Ball has somewhat of a green light to pursue defensive rebounds because he’s so talented at it, Walton said. But when it comes to crashing the offensive boards, the Lakers coaches reign him in a bit more.

“Offensively, we still want him back,” Walton said. “He’s a really good offensive rebounder, too, so we’ve give him some freedom to crash the glass. But if it looks like there’s no opening for it, then we expect him to be the first man back and defending our transition defense.”