Western Notes: Walton, Barton, Jones

Kevin Durant shared his thoughts on the state of Lakers franchise, noting that Los Angeles’ collection of young talent reminds him of his early seasons with the Thunder, Mark Medina of The Orange County Register relays.  “You can tell they enjoy playing with each other. You can tell [Lakers coach] Luke Walton has come over there and changed the culture a bit,” Durant said. “I’ve been on a team like that. You’re young and just want to go out there and have fun with the game with no expectations. You’re just playing. It did wonders for me at that age, being around a bunch of guys that were just as hungry as me and wanting to win. But when we lost games, we weren’t upset with ourselves. There weren’t any feuds. We knew it was a process.

Durant continued to praise Walton, telling Medina, “They got great management, ownership and that seeps through the organization. It falls down to Luke Walton. Being here now, you can tell the atmosphere they have and how it’s the same. A lot of stuff we run, they run. A lot of things we do, they do over there with the Lakers. It starts with being in an environment where it’s about the players and it’s about wanting them to get better.

Here’s more from out West:

  • Nuggets guard Will Barton is still experiencing discomfort in his ankle and is expected to miss an unspecified amount of time, Chris Haynes of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter). The 25-year-old is considered day-to-day moving forward, the scribe adds. In six appearances for Denver this season, Barton is averaging 12.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 28.0 minutes per night to accompany a slash line of .367/.438/.808.
  • Warriors rookie Damian Jones is expected to make his debut for Golden State’s D-League affiliate in Santa Cruz this evening, Adam Johnson of D-League Digest tweets. The late first-round pick has been out of action since undergoing surgery back in June for a torn right pectoral muscle, which he suffered during a weight-lifting session.
  • The Pelicans have been much improved since the return of Jrue Holiday, but much of the credit still goes to Anthony Davis, who has elevated his game to another level this season, writes Justin Verrier of ESPN.com.

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