His 20 points (five goals, 15 assists) put him behind only Ryan Getzlaf (24 points).Miller, the backup to John Gibson, is 4-2-1 with a 2.71 goals-against average and .922 save percentage. He will be re-evaluated in two weeks, but the Ducks filled his spot Tuesday by claiming goalie Chad Johnson off waivers from the Blues. Johnson is 2-6-0 with a 3.54 GAA (.884 save percentage). Ducks center Rickard Rakell, Anaheim’s second-leading scorer, is out indefinitely with a sprained ankle and backup goaltender Ryan Miller, who suffered a sprained MCL on Sunday against the Devils, will be sidelined about six weeks, the team announced Tuesday.There is no timetable for Rakell’s return.
LOS ANGELES — The smile was unmistakably Magic Johnson and evoked his excitement at watching a young Lakers team grow. Moments later, Johnson shook his head incredulously over the inexperienced roster’s learning curve.“Fans have to be encouraged, but Lakers fans are tired of losing,” Johnson told Southern California News Group. “We’re trying as Lakers fans to still be patient. But it’s hard. We have to wait some more?”The Lakers have missed the playoffs for three consecutive years, have gone through three coaches and posted the worst record in franchise history each of the past two seasons. That might explain why Johnson had dinner with Lakers co-owner Jeanie Buss before the two watched most of the team’s 127-121 loss to the Denver Nuggets together on Tuesday night at Staples Center.Johnson, who hasn’t been listed as a Lakers vice president since last summer, said his dining with Buss has been common in recent years. While Johnson acknowledged he offered his opinions to Buss on the state of the franchise during their latest meeting, he did not provide specifics of what they discussed. Nonetheless, Johnson shared his observations on a Lakers team that opened the season 10-10 but has since lost 21 of 26. While he chalked up part of the Lakers’ strong start to catching opposing teams by surprise, Johnson believes the team has since failed to counter its oppositions’ adjustments.“You see spurts, but now they have to put 48 (minutes) together,” Johnson said. “The problem is we get two good quarters, 2½ and sometimes three. But then we put ourselves behind with one bad quarter. It takes so much energy to get back and it’s just not enough. You have to be (upset).”Johnson watched the Lakers concede 40 first-quarter points to the Nuggets, a reflection of the team’s inability to climb out of the bottom of the NBA in total defense. But unlike past seasons, when he criticized former Lakers coaches Mike Brown (2011-12) and Mike D’Antoni (2012-14) or lamented the team’s lack of talent under former Showtime teammate Byron Scott (2014-16), Johnson sounded intrigued with Lakers coach Luke Walton and the team’s young nucleus.“Luke has designed a really good offense to fit the talent that we have. Everybody can really flourish in his offense,” Johnson said. “He’s put a lot of trust in the young guys. For the young players, you can also see that they trust him.”That includes Lakers second-year point guard D’Angelo Russell, whom Johnson praised for his improved playmaking. Though he has seen Russell emerge as a potential leader, Johnson called on him to put as much zip into that role as he does one of his well-timed passes. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error “D’Angelo is so talented. I just hope he steps into a bigger leadership role,” he said. “We need a leader and he has to step into that role as a point guard. What makes every team great is they have that one guy leading the team.”Johnson suspects the 20-year-old Russell has become somewhat hesitant with that responsibility out of respect for the team’s veterans and for the teammates who are in his age range. Russell agreed.“It’s hard; it’s not easy,” Russell said. “I’m trying to communicate and talk with guys as much as possible. I’m trying to figure out how to talk to guys. We’re all young. Figuring it out for everybody is key.”Johnson considers Lakers forward Julius Randle nearly as valuable. He projects the third-year forward, who has 10 double-doubles this season, can become “an All-Star” under one condition.“His upside is high, but he’s got to get the right hand. If he gets the right hand …” Johnson said, trailing off. “He can be unbelievable in this league. He would be unstoppable.”Johnson believes he needs that development to become less predictable, aware Randle frequently goes to his left after trying to convince his defender otherwise.“It means a lot coming from a great like him, especially someone that has worn this uniform before,” Randle said. “It’s all up to me to put the work in and keep getting better.”Johnson has seen the Lakers make strides elsewhere.Johnson called guard Lou Williams, who leads the NBA in bench scoring (17.8 points per game) “a pro’s pro.” Johnson credited guard Jordan Clarkson for accepting a reserve role without complaint and praised rookie forward Brandon Ingram for his steady progression and work ethic before adding that he should play with more assertiveness.After pleading for reserve forward Larry Nance Jr. to “please come back soon” from a bone bruise in his left knee that has kept him out for 14 games, Johnson called Nance the team’s “best defender.” Johnson added that he’s been impressed with rookie center Ivica Zubac for his defense.Johnson reserved the most praise for veteran forward Nick Young. After clashing with Scott over his ineffective play, reduced playing time and public criticisms, Young has averaged 13.7 points on 45 percent shooting as the team’s starting shooting guard.“It’s the best I’ve ever seen him play,” Johnson said of the nine-year NBA veteran. “He’s played both ends of the court and has played smart. He’s played for the team.”The normally talkative Young was initially speechless after hearing those comments.“Magic Johnson? The Magic Johnson? For real?” said Young, a Los Angeles native who starred at USC. “To hear that from the top three greatest player of all time, that’s a confidence booster. I’ve always looked up to Showtime and Magic. For him to even notice that is a blessing.”Johnson has noticed and, unlike in past seasons, he has seen enough from this team to feel more patient than usual.“We’ve seen great spurts where we see what this team is capable of doing,” he said.