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Category: Darius Morris

Jason Kapono's wife gives birth to twins [Video]

Jason Kapono's wife gave birth to twin girls, Campbell and Isla, on Tuesday.

Andrew Goudelock said in the locker room before the Lakers' game with Phoenix on Tuesday night that he could only imagine the excitement and happiness that his teammate must be feeling.

"I'm happy for him," Goudelock said. "I mean, it's a big thing in his life, so I know he's ecstatic right now."

Darius Morris said that Kapono was so excited for the arrival of his daughters that he bought them matching outfits during a road trip in Portland.

Josh McRoberts added that Kapono would ask his teammates for parenting advice in the locker room.

Kapono was excused from the game against Phoenix, a 99-83 win for the Lakers. He is expected to play against Utah on Wednesday -- with a couple more fans watching from a distance.

-- Melissa Rohlin

The Lakers discuss their New Year's resolutions [Video]

No, the Lakers don't have typical New Year's resolutions. They don't need to work out more, eat healthier and get a better job.

But they too are looking forward to a fresh start and in an interview with The Times, they discussed what they hope the New Year will bring.

Josh McRoberts wants world peace (not his teammate), Metta World Peace wants to have fun, Kobe Bryant wants to be healthy, Jason Kapono wants his fans to send him books instead of candy and Matt Barnes is looking forward to moving on from a year that he said was both personally and professionally challenging.

Mark Medina, who runs The Times' Lakers blog, has some other suggestions -- so he talked with his colleague Melissa Rohlin in a video interview below about what the Lakers should be desiring.

--Melissa Rohlin

Derek Fisher, Matt Barnes, Steve Blake on stage with 50 Cent

The well-spoken Derek Fisher doesn't exactly jibe with 50 Cent's gangsta persona. But the Lakers guard apparently remains such close friends with the accomplished rapper that he introduced him on stage Thursday night on Fox's "X-Factor."

Darius Morris is just trying to fit into a veteran-laden squad. But just as it appeared he knew the words to 50 Cent's "In Da Club," Morris has looked quite comfortable with the Lakers.

Steve Blake has renewed confidence and swagger on the basketball court, but he couldn't have appeared more awkward on stage mingling with dancers.

And Matt Barnes? He's kind of used to this thing. He appears to don as many tattoos as 50 Cent himself. He's already appeared in a music video starring Snoop Dogg and Game rapping "Purp & Yellow."

There are simply too many things to like about this video, and it's not just because of 50 Cent belting out old classics and new hits. It's also because each Laker appearance appeared both unexpected and amusing. (H/T to Pro Basketball Talk's Kurt Helin.)

RELATED:

Ron Artest, Matt Barnes and Shannon Brown appear in 'Purp & Yellow' music video

Ron Artest on his mix tape

Some memorable Lakers rap performances

-- Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Things to watch in second Lakers-Clippers preseason game

Some things to keep an eye on when the Lakers and Clippers meet tonight for their second preseason matchup:

1. How much improvement will the Lakers make on defense? The Lakers' 114-95 loss to the Clippers on Monday highlighted plenty of reasons why Coach Mike Brown remains upset with the team's defensive effort -- including closing out on perimeter shooters, a huge factor in why the Clippers went 13 of 28 from three-point range. There's also the problem of getting back on transition defense, a large part of why the Clippers scored 29 points off the Lakers' 21 turnovers. And there's also the matter of the Lakers having little answer for Chris Paul's 17 points.

The Lakers' first preseason game was a potent reminder that they'll likely struggle for most of the season in defending against quick teams and stopping fast-break points. One practice session won't rectify that. But the Lakers and, most notably, Kobe Bryant can easily improve on closing out on shooters. Part of it is the team's learning curve, because most of the concepts last season centered on forcing drivers into the lane. Brown's defense has similar ideas in that department, but it also stresses keeping perimeter shooters honest.

2. Can the Lakers' offensive chemistry improve? Everyone -- Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum included -- acknowledged making reads and cuts that mirrored Phil Jackson's offense at different times during Monday's game. That led to confusion on how the Lakers should run Brown's "strong corner" offense, making the inside production from Gasol (16 points) and Bynum (15 points) pretty deceptive. Because the Lakers' offense hinges more on their production, such mishaps will significantly weaken their options.

3. How much should Kobe play? The Lakers diagnosed him with a sprained right wrist after taking a fall during Monday's game, but he practiced Tuesday and is expected to play in the rematch. But it'd be a good idea for Brown to minimize Bryant's minutes so he can heal and the Lakers can further figure out who should play behind him at shooting guard. 

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Darius Morris appears solid in NBA preseason debut

After just over a week of training camp and one preseason game, Darius Morris has already earned himself a nickname. 

Lakers Coach Mike Brown has dubbed the L.A. native and Windward School graduate "Wheels" because, well, he just keeps moving.

"That’s what he wants me to do is push the ball and just try to create easy looks for our teammates," Morris said. "You know, come up and present a different kind of tempo when I check in the game and try to put pressure on the defense."

Morris checked into the Lakers' eventual 114-95 preseason loss Monday to the Clippers far earlier than expected. He knew Brown would sit veteran guard Derek Fisher but didn't anticipate subbing in for Steve Blake at the 6:22 mark after Blake tweaked his left ankle. 

Morris admitted feeling nervous, but didn't show it, finishing with 11 points on five of nine shooting, three assists and three rebounds in 24 minutes of play.

"I thought he played very well," Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said. "He played with a lot of confidence and shot the ball very well too."

That happened right away. On one possession, Morris held the ball in his hands as the shot clock was winding down. Instead of passing to a teammate, he ran an isolation play and nailed a 22-footer just before the shot clocked expired.

"That was like the ice breaker for me," Morris said. "For that one to go in was a huge boost for my confidence."

Morris followed that with two more buzzer beaters. One came after he took a baseline shot that hit badly off the side of the backboard. But Morris collected the rebound and converted on a bank shot.  He also nailed a 20-footer to tie the game at 28-28 just before the first quarter ended. In the fourth quarter, Morris pushed the ball up the court and spun past a defender before connecting with Andrew Bynum in transition.

All in all, it proved to be a good debut.

"The rook came in and he was either feast or famine, which was OK," Brown said. "It was his first taste of NBA experience."

RELATED:

Darius Morris is working out with full intensity

Five things Darius Morris needs for a successful season

Darius Morris has no regrets turning pro

-- Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Darius Morris handling preparation the right way

The Lakers hadn't even opened their gates, but Darius Morris couldn't wait.

On the first day the team opened voluntary workouts Thursday at its practice facility in El Segundo, the rookie guard arrived at 9:30 a.m., a half-hour before the facility opened. 

Talk about a solid first impression.

Of course, what matters will involve how Morris actually looks on the basketball court. Will his off-season  efforts to improve his outside shooting show results in NBA games? Can Morris, who led the Big Ten his sophomore season at the University of Michigan in assists, still maintain his playmaking abilities? Though the Lakers need help at the point-guard spot, could Morris realistically receive enough playing time on a veteran-laden roster?

Within all the uncertainties, it remains certain that Morris has taken the right approach in preparing for his rookie season.

"You come in ready," said Morris, who maintained optimism the Lakers will add him to the roster. "We'll put it in God's hands and I'll do what I can do and do what I can control and go out there and work hard."

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Mitch Kupchak says Lakers will be 'very limited' in free agency

Mitch Kupchak

The Lakers roster that takes the floor at Staples Center on Christmas could look a lot like the one that shows up when training camp starts a week from Friday.

General Manager Mitch Kupchak said Friday during a media conference at the team's training facility in El Segundo that he would be "very limited" as far as bringing in free agents. Depending on whether shooting guard Shannon Brown decides to re-sign with the team, the Lakers could target a guard and forward in free agency but have limited options to acquire them.

They can use the so-called mini mid-level exception of three years and $9.4 million as well as a veteran's minimum of $1 million, leaving the Lakers hoping that quality players will want to come to Los Angeles for other reasons besides money.

"We're hopeful there's a player out there who's made money in his career and is on the back end and is looking at a championship, or a player who is developing," Kupchak said. "That's harder to do."

Kupchak said he did not anticipate that Theo Ratliff or Joe Smith would be returning to the roster, but he confirmed that he had been in contact with Brown's agent. The Lakers can exercise team options on second-year players Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter and must decide whether to sign second-round draft picks Darrius Morris and Andrew Goudelock.

Kupchak almost sounded resigned to losing Brown, who has been a free agent at the end of each of his seasons with the Lakers and has explored more lucrative offers elsewhere.

"My guess is, you can only continue to do that for such a period of time where it doesn't make any more sense," Kupchak said, "so I would think this year he would look for and probably get a package that's financially much more attractive than we could offer under the present rules."

Morris, Derek Fisher and Matt Barnes were among the Lakers who stopped by the team's training facility for informal workouts Friday. Coach Mike Brown briefly hailed Fisher from across the court before smiling and putting his finger to his lips, a nod to the fact that coaches are not supposed to speak with players before the NBA lockout formally ends.

With only 16 days to hold practices before the Lakers' opener, the coach said he would try not to overwhelm his players. And what would he call Metta World Peace?

"I might just call him Metta or Met," Brown said. "I don't want to call him Peace, because he might think that's grounds for him to leave practice."

We'll have more later at www.latimes.com/sports.

-- Ben Bolch

Photo: "We believe in this group," Mitch Kupchak says of the current Lakers roster. Credit: Richard Hartog / Los Angeles Times

Derek Fisher and Darius Morris attend voluntary workouts

The Lakers still remain unsure how many players will use their practice facilities from now until Dec. 9, when training camp officially opens.

But as of late Friday morning, count Lakers guards Derek Fisher and Darius Morris as the ones who showed up to the team's El Segundo headquarters.

It remains unclear if any will talk to the media. It's at the players' discretion because team officials are still supposed to maintain minimal contact before the labor deal becomes officially ratified.

-- Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Darius Morris is working out with full intensity

The sweat dripped down Darius Morris' face. His T-shirt was soaked, and his trainer asked if he needed more time to catch his breath between exercises.

The Lakers rookie guard quickly smiled and shook his head.

"Rest is overrated," Morris said before completing three sets of 12 reps on a 135-pound bench press during a recent workout at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach. The Lakers already received a glimpse of Morris' work ethic Thursday when he was one of three players to use the team's practice facility for voluntary workouts. 

Morris has followed a near daily routine of playing pick-up basketball at Loyola Marymount University and working out at Mira Costa. Who knows if that intense work ethic can replicate the Big Ten-leading 6.7 assists he averaged per game in his sophomore season at Michigan?

Morris has tinkered with his footwork, form and follow through. Who knows if that will improve the 25% clip from three-point range he averaged in his sophomore season with the Wolverines.

Morris has increased his weight to 195 pounds after adding 10 pounds of muscle. He's maxing out at 255-pound bench-press and squat exercises. Who knows if that added muscle and endless agility drills will give him enough strength and quickness to upgrade the Lakers at point guard.

But his trainers, former UNLV guard Tyrell Jamerson and Mira Costa athletic trainer Tim Cooper, aren't blowing smoke when they rave about Morris' potential to immediately fit in with the Lakers. After recently observing Morris playing basketball at Loyola Marymount and working out at Mira Costa, I remain convinced that the Lakers will consider the former Windward product a keeper. 

"I've been trying to gain as much knowledge as a I can," said Morris, whom the Lakers selected in the 2011 NBA draft with their 41st pick. "That's the key for me. I never stop working."

RELATED:

Darius Morris has no regrets turning pro

Matt Barnes working out with mixed success

Five things Darius Morris needs for a successful season

-- Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Lakers have limited participation in first practice session

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The NBA lockout may have ended, but the Lakers' practice facility Thursday remained as quiet as ever.

They officially opened its doors for players under contract, unsigned rookies and free agents interested in working out. But many didn't take up the team's offer. In fact, only three players actually attended, according to a team spokesperson, including Lakers forward Devin Ebanks, Lakers rookie guard Darius Morris and, of all people, Metta World Peace. For whatever reason, however, the Laker player formerly known as Ron Artest arrived in street clothes. With the Lakers withholding media access, the only details we have come courtesy of Ebanks' Twitter account where he posted a photo of his unkept locker.

"Got some good shots up today," Ebanks tweeted. "Comin bak Lata on tho! Late session."

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