Twin 20 triumphs for Linkenhoker, Worrell in Virginia Sprint Series Shenandoah show

first_imgBy Jim HainesSHENANDOAH, Va. (May 14) – A rain delay on April 30 after the trophy dash meant a changeup format was put into play when Virginia Sprint Series drivers returned to Shenandoah Speedway Saturday night for a pair of twin 20-lap features.Anthony Linkenhoker became the first repeat winner for IMCA EMI RaceSaver Sprint Cars this season in the rescheduled race, Glenn Worrell earned his first pavement win in the night­cap and Bill Rice went home with two runner-up finishes.The first feature had Worrell and Tony Harris on the front row with Harris out first. Rice was strong up high right behind them and got Worrell first and then Harris on lap six, but Linkenhoker was coming on strong as well.Linkenhoker was in second by lap 10 and in the lead for good two laps later. Worrell was pressing Rice as laps ran out.Feature number two had Worrell and Harris on the point as the green waved with Worrell out front on the bottom and Harris mid-track. The two traded the lead lap after lap with Worrell gaining the upper hand on lap eight.Rice moved to second but was no match as Worrell remained smooth and fast out front.Next week it’s back to Eastside Speedway in Waynesboro on Saturday, May 21 for another dirt track show.ResultsRescheduled feature – 1. Anthony Linkenhoker; 2. Bill Rice; 3. Glenn Worrell; 4. French Grimes; 5. Josh Perreault; 6. Jerald Harris; 7. Ron Moyers; 8. Tony Harris.Scheduled feature – 1. Worrell; 2. Rice; 3. Linkenhoker; 4. Jerald Harris; 5. Tony Harris; 6. French Grimes; 7. Perreault; 8. Moyers.last_img read more

SR 56 to close for bridge replacement

first_imgSwitzerland County, IN— S.R. 56 will close near Lamb in Switzerland County for approximately 30 days beginning on or after Monday, July 22, weather permitting. The road will be closed 6.5 miles west of S.R. 129 for a $1.4 million bridge replacement project over Green Valley Creek.The closure was originally scheduled to begin June 10 but has been delayed due to weather. The official state detour for the closure is S.R. 129 and U.S. 421.last_img

Alan Pardew wants Dwight Gayle to keep supplying goals for Crystal Palace

first_img Pardew feels the Belgian has a promising future. “Jason is a young player that we brought from abroad, he has fantastic technical ability,” Pardew said at a press conference. “He has lots to do to threaten our first team, but he is a smiley boy so we hope he does well here.” Pardew reported no fresh injury concerns ahead of the West Brom match. Connor Wickham, Mile Jedinak, Damien Delaney and Joel Ward are all in line to return following the international break. “I am a bit frustrated because I have so many key first-team players missing,” he said. “That is an area we need to put right. My medical team tell me by the time we play West Ham they will be back, and that will be much better news for us. “But we are still strong this weekend, though. We are fortunate that the starting XI who are on the sheet most weeks are still there, which is good.” Pardew indicated Gayle would be in his plans for Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off against West Brom, when former Eagles boss Tony Pulis returns to Selhurst Park. However, when asked whether the player was set for a new deal, Pardew said: “It’s not something I’m aware of. “We obviously have to keep an eye on players’ contracts as they run down, but I think we are pretty comfortable where we are. “Signing Yannick (Bolasie) was a real boost for us and having key players under long contracts bodes well for going forwards.” The Eagles boss continued: “I was very impressed with him (Gayle) last Sunday. If he had scored two goals he would have been man of the match, and he could have, he was so unlucky with a couple of chances. “That is what he gives us and he has worked his way into the team. “He will play on Saturday and hopefully he will score.” Palace recently added 17-year-old Anderlecht winger Jason Lokilo to the club following some time training with the under-21s and receiving international clearance. Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew hopes Dwight Gayle can let his goals do the talking again this weekend, but is not aware of any new deal in the pipeline for the striker. The 24-year-old forward was a target for both Norwich and Bristol City in the transfer window but remained at Selhurst Park. Gayle grabbed a hat-trick in the 4-1 Capital One Cup win at Charlton and impressed when drafted into the attack for the Barclays Premier League game against Watford, where Palace won 1-0. Press Associationlast_img read more

Houlton knocks off GSA boys’ basketball team in Class C North title game

first_img Mike MandellMike Mandell is the sports editor at The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander. He began working for The American in August 2016. You can reach him via email at Bio Latest Posts BANGOR — It’s over.After three straight Gold Ball wins and countless nights of dominating opponents on the Cross Insurance Center floor, the George Stevens Academy boys’ basketball team’s run of mid-February dominance has come to an end. GSA’s latest opponent, the Houlton Shiretowners, proved worthy of dethroning the back-to-back-to-back regional and state champions with an impressive performance from start to finish.Houlton defeated GSA 54-34 in the Northern Maine championship game Saturday to draw the Eagles’ reign as the unquestioned kings of Class C North boys’ basketball to a close. The Shiretowners overcame a sluggish start to the game with an efficient shooting performance and relentless defense to gain separation from GSA, which will end the season without a state title for the first time in four years.“It just wasn’t our night,” GSA head coach Dwayne Carter said. “I’m a little disappointed we didn’t play our best game tonight, but that happens.”This is placeholder textThis is placeholder textIsaac Wardwell gave GSA a two-possession lead to start to the game with a pair of baskets in the first three and a half minutes, during which the Eagles kept No. 4 Houlton (18-4) scoreless. Yet things changed quickly past the halfway mark in the first quarter when Nolan Porter hit back-to-back 3-pointers for the Shiretowners to spark an 11-0 Houlton run.Houlton then followed a Tanner Ashley 3-pointer with a score of its own to end the first quarter, and the Shiretowners continued their momentum into the second with four of the period’s first five baskets. Third-ranked GSA (18-4) kept Houlton in check offensively for the rest of the half, but the Eagles themselves mustered just five points during that span and trailed 25-15 at the break.GSA’s Percy Zentz defends against Houlton’s Cameron Callnan during the second half of the Class C North boys’ basketball championship game Feb. 23 at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. Zentz was part of a GSA senior class that boasted an 82-6 record over four years. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY MIKE MANDELL“They put a lot of ball pressure on, and they made every pass tough,” Carter said of Houlton’s suffocating defense. “We tried a bunch of different sets to try and get going, but we just could never get into a flow.”After GSA scored the first basket of the second half, senior Reece Dannenberg responded to four Houlton points with a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 29-20. Yet the Shiretowners scored the next nine points and took a 40-24 lead into the fourth quarter when Caleb Solomon made a layup at the buzzer.GSA cut the deficit to 46-33 after Houlton stretched its lead to 20 points early in the fourth quarter, but that was as close as it would get. The Eagles’ only points the rest of the way came on a Percy Zentz free throw as the Shiretowners walked off the floor with a Class C North title.Wardwell led GSA with 14 points. Dannenberg (five points), Michael Moon (four points), Tanner Ashley (three), Zentz (three), Caden Mattson (two), Andrew Szwez (two) and Eric Mote (one) also scored for the Eagles.Carter said Houlton’s string of 11 straight points made a comeback difficult for GSA early in the game. Although there were still more than three quarters to play at that point, Houlton’s shot-making and tough defense made it hard for the Eagles to keep pace with the Shiretowners.“We got off to a good start, but then we missed our assignments and let Porter get open twice,” Carter said. “Once they got rolling, that was it.”Both Carter and Houlton head coach Tim Brewer felt confident about how their teams matched up against one another entering the contest. Yet the Shiretowners, who got 18 points from Keegan Gentle and 14 from Porter, got the better of GSA in the matchup battle as they were too much on offense and limited the reigning champs’ scoring output to roughly half their season average on defense.“Coming into the game, I actually thought we matched up well with them on the defensive end,” Brewer said. “I didn’t think they matched up with us on the offensive end as far as their defense; I didn’t think they had anyone who could guard Keegan.”Houlton will return to the Cross Center to face Class C South champion and No. 1 seed Winthrop (20-1) for the state title at 8:50 p.m. Saturday, March 2. The Shiretowners will be seeking their third state title after winning Gold Balls in 2004 and 2014.Although GSA’s string of regional and state titles is no more, the Eagles still proved they could compete with the best in returning to another Northern Maine championship game. With Szwez, Mattson and Moon back next year, Carter’s team will have title ambitions once again.“People didn’t expect us to get this far, but I knew we could,” Carter said. “It didn’t end the way we wanted it to, but it is what is.” MPA approves golf, XC, field hockey, soccer; football, volleyball moved to spring – September 10, 2020center_img Ellsworth runners compete in virtual Boston Marathon – September 16, 2020 Hospice volunteers help families navigate grief and find hope – September 12, 2020 Latest posts by Mike Mandell (see all)last_img read more

Dalung to Approach Presidency over Rio2016 Preparations

first_imgBy Duro IkhazuagbeNigeria’s preparations for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro is been hampered by the inability to account for the N2.9billion released by the Federal Government to the defunct National Sports Commission (NSC) last year.Speaking in Lagos last weekend, Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, said that the money meant for the 2015 All Africa Games as well as the preparations for the Rio2016, could not be properly accounted for which explains why the Federal Government was reluctant in releasing further funds.Now, Dalung has promised to take the matter of Nigeria’s preparations for the summer games to the Presidency to avoid a repeat of the failure at London 2012  in Brazil.“The money was meant for the 2015 African Games, as well as preparation and participation in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, but as I am talking to you now, I don’t have money to call our athletes to camp, and we have not been able to go back to the Presidency for more money because we have not retired the one they gave to us,” declared the minister who was in Lagos to inaugurate the 20 boats donated to the Rowing and Sailing federation.Dalung further revealed that the said money was released to the former director general of the defunct NSC, Mallam Al Hassan Yakmut and the Presidency insisted that it must be accounted for before more money can be given to sports for the Olympic preparations and participation. “A few days ago, I got the explanation of how the money was spent, but I believe we can do better than that. We have to be tidy in everything we do so that people will look at us with respect. We will go back to the Presidency to bail us out in respect of the Olympic Games in Brazil,” stressed Dalung.While also speaking on the country’s sports facilities most of which were in sorry states, Dalung said that the former Games Village in Afuze in Edo State was worse than the shrine in his town in Plateau State.“The Games Village in Afuze, is worse than the local shrine in my village. We have however set up a committee to go round and give us an update report on the state of these facilitiesThey will be brought back to life. All the abandoned sports projects scattered all over the country will be completed and put to use for the benefit of our youths,” stressed the sports minister. “I am not going to build new facilities when the ones we have are not being utilised effectively. So, what I will do is to update all the facilities to make them useful to our athletes. “We have secured a sponsor, a developer backed by banks to refurbish the National Stadium, Lagos. He will also build a five-star hotel within the facility. “The Abuja Stadium will also be redeveloped by a concessionaire, who will build an artificial lake within the facility. That lake will take care of most water sports when completed,” he promised.Dalung also explained that he had no hand in the scrapping of the NSC, stressing that  it was done within the purview of the civil service.  “The Federal Government was in the process of merging some of the departments and ministries when I assumed office in November. I was not a member of the body charged with that responsibility, but I knew about the proceedings through the permanent secretary, who briefed me on what was going on. “Unfortunately, the former NSC Director General, (Yakmut), had a good argument on why the NSC should be retained, but he never brought that argument to me. I would have been able to convince the committee on the need to retain the NSC. And so when he came to me after the committee had concluded its assignment, there was nothing I could do about it. I could not call them back to begin the process afresh,” revealed Dalung. Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more

Fast reaction: 3 takeaways from Syracuse’s 11-10 loss to Virginia in the ACC tournament

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — As Syracuse midfielder Peter Dearth raced down the field, his teammate Nick Mellen stood over Virginia attack Michael Kraus, staring down UVA’s leading scorer. As Dearth scored, Mellen motioned to the UVA bench before pounding his chest and yelling out loud.Syracuse jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead because Mellen forced a Kraus turnover on the first possession that led to a fastbreak goal on the other end. When the first half whistle sounded, Virginia led SU 5-4. Kraus had either scored or assisted on every first-half goal.After antagonizing Kraus on the first play of the game, Mellen struggled to slow him down for the remaining 59 minutes as Kraus led No. 4 seed UVA (11-4, 1-3 Atlantic Coast) over No. 1 seed Syracuse (7-6, 4-0 Atlantic Coast), 11-10, at Klockner Stadium on Friday night in the ACC tournament semifinals.Here are three reactions from SU’s early exit.Michael Kraus proves dominantAdvertisementThis is placeholder textAs Virginia tacked on each goal in the first half, Kraus’ point total kept rising. The attack found himself the focal point of every offensive opportunity.Behind 3-2, Kraus tried to force his way toward cage against Mellen, but the defender held his position firmly, forcing Kraus behind the cage. But instead of dishing the ball, as he had done in the early minutes, Kraus curled back around the right side of SU goalie Dom Madonna. Mellen draped himself all over Kraus, but still the sophomore found space and rifled in a shot over his left shoulder and past Madonna.When he didn’t shoot, because the SU defense collapsed on him, Kraus found open attackers, notching three assists in the first half, as the Orange failed to protect the cage when it slid. Kraus’ teammates proved beneficiaries.SU’s offense can’t compete with UVA’sIn Syracuse’s first matchup with Virginia — despite escaping with a 12-11 win — the offense was denied by UVA goalie Alex Rode 15 times, and that trend continued Friday night at Klockner Stadium, as Rode added 10 saves.Early in the second quarter, SU earned a two-man-up opportunity. As the Orange swiftly moved the ball around the perimeter, Stephen Rehfuss cut out from behind the cage onto the right side of Rode. Quickly, Rehfuss’ teammates found him wide open, but as he ripped a shot low, Rode quickly reacted to stuff the attack and end his team’s two-man disadvantage.Continuously SU fired shots from the perimeter, unable to beat Rode.On Wednesday, ahead of SU and Virginia’s ACC tournament semifinals matchup, UVA head coach Lars Tiffany told The Daily Orange that he thought one of the most impressive parts of SU’s team was how the young offensive weapons grew from the first matchup. He didn’t have the same depth among his young players, he said.But while Rode dominated in cage, Matt Moore also thrived in the open field. The freshman midfielder notched five points on the day, taking over in the second half. At the end of the third quarter, when SU began gaining some momentum, Moore shut the door with a goal from 15 yards out and just 10.8 seconds remaining in the quarter.Syracuse struggles at the faceoff XIn the two teams’ first matchup in early March, Syracuse took advantage of Virginia’s defense by simply dominating possession and forcing the defenders to play more. SU won the faceoff battle 16-11 in that first contest.In this game, though, Danny Varello and the faceoff crew couldn’t muster the same success. Virginia beat SU in the faceoff X 18-7, forcing SU to do more offensively with fewer opportunities.And when SU did finally manage to win the faceoff, it often resulted in turnovers, poor shots or the back of Rode’s pocket. Comments Published on April 27, 2018 at 11:11 pm Contact Matt: mdliberm@syr.edulast_img read more

PokerStars extends Bolt coverage with IAAF Monaco Diamond League sponsorship

first_imgShare Share Related Articles UK drives Stars Group growth despite international ‘disruptions’ February 27, 2020 PokerStars moves to refresh global appeal with ‘I’M IN’ August 18, 2020 ‘Deal maker’ Rafi Ashkenazi ends Flutter tenure  August 27, 2020 StumbleUpon Submit Amaya Inc online poker subsidiary PokerStars has furthered its brand coverage partnership with new poker ambassador Usain Bolt, confirming that it will sponsor the upcoming  IAAF Monaco Diamond League athletics meeting at the Stade Louis II Stadium on July 21.PokerStars will provide the bibs for all eight athletes competing in the men’s 100m race, as they tune up for next month’s  the IAAF London World Championships in London. The race will undoubtedly be a monumental historic significance to the world of athletics, as it’s the penultimate race of Bolt’s illustrious career.  Eric Hollreiser, PokerStars Director of Corporate Communications lauded the unmistakeable Bolt with praise, “Usain is one of the greatest athletes in history and we look forward to seeing him in what will be an exciting event for sport fans around the world.” He went onto add that “PokerStars is proud to support the men’s 100m race at the IAAF Monaco Diamond League and further our relationship with Usain Bolt.” This summer PokerStars marketing announced that Usain Bolt, the world’s greatest sprinter would be joining Team PokerStars, initially competing in its ‘All-in’ challenge against friend and fellow PokerStars Brand Ambassador  Kevin Hart (US Comedian/Actor). For PokerStars, maintaining a cordial partnership with Bolt as he concludes his prestigious career, will provide them with a tremendous opportunity to not only be part of history, but to promote their brand and the game of poker to a much wider reaching market.last_img read more

Spiffbet points to next stage of growth with Panorama LatAm

first_img Spelinspektionen reminds operators of AML responsibilities July 2, 2020 Related Articles Share Submit Betsson outrides pandemic challenges as regulatory dramas loom July 21, 2020 Share LeoVegas hits back at Swedish regulations despite Q2 successes August 13, 2020 StumbleUpon Spiffbet, a developer of live-action sports betting games, has announced a major partnership with Panorama Gaming launching its unique games portfolio within South American markets.Stockholm-based Spiffbet, a specialist studio developing hybrid betting content for casino and bookmaker incumbents, will publish its entire games suite on Panorama Gaming’s platform suite.Updating the market, Spiffbet management detailed the partnership with Costa Rica-based Panorama Gaming as fundamental to the firm’s next stage of growth targeting new markets.Spiffbet develops online casino and betting games that are marketed under the Spiffbet Casino, STHLMGAMING and Spiffbet Sports brands.“It is with great excitement that we look forward to delivering games to Panorama Gaming, which operates both in Latin America and where we have the ambition to grow, and in Asia, which includes several large gaming markets where we have not yet tested our games,” explained Henrik Svensson, Spiffbet CEO.“Spiffbet has an interesting offering of its own games and games from other studios that fit into our casino gaming offer. We are keen to begin the integration of the games and start distribution,” noted Jose Pablo Mesen, COO at Panorama Gaming.last_img read more

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu doesn’t know when he will pitch again

first_imgRyu arrived in Chicago late Thursday after his original flight was delayed; the pitcher called it “a forgettable day.” Friday would have been more memorable if he’d begun throwing, but that wasn’t possible.“The plan was to start my throwing program as soon as I feel good enough after my shot,” Ryu said, “and that’s not today.”So, Ryu won’t start Monday against the San Francisco Giants. Dan Haren, who threw a bullpen session Friday, might start the game instead on an extra day’s rest. Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw are lined up to start Tuesday and Wednesday against the Dodgers’ closest rivals. Giving Haren the start Monday would line up the Dodgers’ three best starting pitchers for their three biggest games remaining. But manager Don Mattingly wasn’t ready to rule out Haren from starting against the Cubs on Sunday. “(Saturday)’s game tells us what we do Sunday,” he said. That could mean a patchwork of relief pitchers splitting the nine-inning task.Ryu’s next turn in the rotation is scheduled for a week from today, at home against the Colorado Rockies, but Mattingly wouldn’t rule out shuffling the rotation if Ryu is ready sooner.Right now, the safe bet is that Ryu won’t pitch again until the postseason, assuming the Dodgers can reach the National League Division Series. Mattingly is OK with that.“I think he’s earned it,” he said. “The fact that the way he works — he doesn’t throw the ‘pens in between (starts) — and just his routine is different than most guys’. When he says he’s good to go, he’s good to go. It’s easy to trust him because we’ve seen him be able to do it.“He’s different in those aspects of the way that he works. It’s different than every other guy.”Ryu is 14-7 with a 3.38 earned-run average this season. He ranks third on the team in wins and ERA, and is tied for third with 26 starts.‘Not overthinking it’Mattingly suggested that Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis’ two-homer game Friday was partially a result of better health.“Probably over the last month and a half he’s been able to do the routine to get himself strong,” the manager said, citing Ellis’ arthroscopic knee surgery in April and his sprained ankle in May.Ellis believes his problems are more mental than physical.“Actually I’ve been hitting less,” he said. “I’m just not overthinking it, not trying to overanalyze it in the batting cage. Just trying to get loose. I’m trying to make good swings when it matters in the game.”After Ellis had surgery, he blamed his torn meniscus on catching mechanics that placed extra pressure on his left knee. At the time he planned to change those mechanics; now he’s putting off the changes until after the season.Ellis’ 2-for-4 game against the Cubs raised his batting average to .193.“It felt good to contribute,” he said.Also . . .Pitcher Red Patterson, who was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for pitcher Scott Elbert, cleared waivers. … Dee Gordon’s 63rd stolen base tied Davey Lopes for fifth (1976) on the Dodgers’ all-time single season list. … Dodgers chairman Mark Walter is attending the series. He planned to take the team out to dinner after Friday’s game. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorcenter_img CHICAGO — Hyun-Jin Ryu’s left shoulder was hurting Friday morning.The good news: The pain is from a cortisone shot Ryu received Monday — not from whatever is causing the inflammation that knocked him out of his last start Sept. 12.The bad news: Ryu hasn’t touched a baseball in seven days. He didn’t throw Friday and he might not pitch over the final eight games of the regular season. He missed three weeks with a similar injury in May.“Overall I feel a lot better than at first,” Ryu said through his interpreter Friday. “I’ve been working out, obviously without throwing and hurting my shoulder further. It’s a good direction. I can’t really say when (I’ll be back).”last_img read more

How will Kobe Bryant fare in his 20th NBA season?

first_imgBryant stressed, “I don’t really have any anxiety” on his recent injury. And Bryant said he feels “ready to get started” in what will mark his 20th and perhaps final NBA season, which will set a league record over former Utah guard John Stockton for most seasons played for one franchise. “The injury has been slowly getting better,” Bryant said of his lower left leg. “I’ve been able to move a lot more and do more things I’m comfortable doing.” Scott reiterated on Tuesday that Bryant “looked good.” Lakers forward Metta World Peace recently gushed how the 37-year-old Bryant lit up his teammates in Sunday’s session after Nick Young and Lou Williams talked trash. And despite only limited practice since then, Bryant noted that he has “been training for so long now” since injuring his right shoulder nine months ago. But once Bryant actually hits the hardwood in an NBA game with significance, how will he perform?“Just be an old average player,” Bryant said, sarcastically. Bryant indirectly referenced ESPN ranking him as the NBA’s 93rd-best player. He insisted he just finds the ranking “funny” and that he “likes to joke about it.” But Scott hardly sounded like he was joking when he still expressed confidence about Bryant’s play for the 2015-16 season.• Lakers’ depth chart breakdown: Analyzing the 2015-16 roster“I expect him to be the leader like he is,” Scott said. “I expect him to be aggressive on both ends of the floor. I expect him to be the tenacious kind of guy he is. He plays every play like it’s his last.” Monitoring minutesThe Lakers hope Bryant’s last play does not coincide with another major injury, obviously. But after playing 55,415 minutes in 1,500 games through 19 seasons, there are no guarantees.“His body can’t take the NBA pounding anymore,” TNT analyst and former NBA player Charles Barkley said in a conference call. “I want him to come out there and play 20-25 minutes a night, have a farewell tour.”Scott plans to enforce a conservative minutes limitation, but he would only say “we got a number in mind.” Scott will play Bryant against Minnesota “like I normally play him,” meaning the season opener could lead to more answers. For now, it seems safe to presume Bryant will play less than when he averaged 34.5 minutes per game last season. Then, Scott played Bryant between 30 and 40 minutes per game. He even exceeded that threshold three times. Then Scott rested Bryant in eight of the next 16 games before he injured his right shoulder.• HEISLER: Jim Buss sticks his head up, gets pie in the faceAmid that backdrop, Scott said he will not play Bryant in an overtime game if he’s already reached his unspecified minutes limitation. Although Scott and Bryant have not discussed the issue yet, Bryant is expected to sit in the Lakers’ 18 sets of back-to-back games. “I wouldn’t say it’s a hard cap,” Scott said about his minutes limitation. “But I’ll stick close to it.”Bryant has downplayed his minutes contributing to his ailments, arguing that few warning signs emerged before his shoulder injury. The Lakers’ star also dismissed his unsuccessful quest to stay healthy during training camp as having little to do with his recent injury history. “It has a different filter on it because of the injuries I’ve had in the last few years,” Bryant said. “But the reality is that injuries happen to everybody.”Change of roleInstead, Bryant argued his role will play a larger factor in staying healthy. He will play at small forward this season, while noting that rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson “can handle the ball 90 percent of the time.” In theory, that would allow Bryant to score more off-the-ball without facing so many double-teams. “I just go out there and play,” Bryant said. “My role has changed a lot in terms of the style of play. I can count on one hand in how many roles I play and how it’s drastically different in the past.”In past seasons, Sacramento coach George Karl noticed that Bryant is “relying a little bit more on his jump shot” to offset his diminished athleticism. But despite relying on his strong footwork and mid-range game, Bryant shot a career-low 37.3 percent from the field. Scott noted that Bryant “was very disappointed last year in the way he shot the ball.” But Scott argued Bryant’s high-volume shooting has less to do with his quest for scoring and more to do with the team’s personnel. Through five exhibition games, Bryant averaged 13 points on 44.6 percent shooting in 18.2 minutes.“He wants those guys to try to take over,” Scott said. “The less work he has to do, the better.”Training the next generationThe eyes of Russell, Clarkson and Julius Randle often light up whenever someone mentions Bryant. They will gush about his work ethic. They will express optimism about his return. They will express appreciation for his feedback.“I talk to him anytime,” Russell said of Bryant, “and he’s wide open.” But will Bryant exhibit that same attitude amid rookie hiccups and losing?TNT analyst, former Lakers teammates and former adversary Shaquille O’Neal sounded skeptical. With Bryant logging 32,482 career points and surpassing Michael Jordan last season for third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, O’Neal suggested Bryant will focus more on climbing up that list.“I could see him trying to pass up Karl Malone,” O’Neal said in a conference call. “I don’t really know where he is behind Karl Malone. But it’ll be nice at the end of the day if two Lakers were one and two in the scoring race.”It seems highly unlikely O’Neal will get his wish. Former Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has recorded a league-leading 38,387 points, while Karl Malone trails with 36,928 points. Even if he unexpectedly played a full 82-game season, Bryant would have to average 54.23 points per game this season to eclipse Malone.“He’s going to be taking a lot of shots,” O’Neal said. World Peace understood that skepticism. But the former Ron Artest still remembers Bryant passing him the ball for a key three-pointer that secured Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals against Boston.“Don’t try to prove nothing to Kobe,” World Peace said. “Just be yourself. You’re here. Mitch (Kupchak) picked you for a reason. All you got to do is be yourself and give 100 percent.”And with Bryant gushing about his teammates’ work ethic, he pledges to live by his word through the good and the bad. “It’s something you have to feel,” Bryant recalled telling the Lakers’ young players about adversity. “You will have to go through it. When you go through it, I’ll be there for you.”First things first. Soon enough, Bryant will step on the court for an NBA regular-season game for the first time in nine months, when he will strive to write the beginning of possibly his last chapter. Nearly 40 minutes passed after the Lakers’ two-hour practice on Tuesday concluded. Kobe Bryant still remained in the trainer’s room. The Lakers’ star has been there a lot after suffering season-ending injuries for three consecutive years. Bryant bruised his lower left leg during training camp, and then missed the Lakers’ last three exhibition games. After completing all of practice before it became open to reporters on Tuesday, Bryant received more treatment.But Lakers coach Byron Scott will start Bryant in L.A.’s season opener against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday at Staples Center “unless something crazy happens” before tipoff. • RELATED: NBA experts mixed on Kobe Bryant, Lakers’ playoff chancescenter_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more