Lakers clear the air on Nick Young’s frustration with teammates’ lack of help

Nick Young, right, has words with Phoenix Suns' Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris, rear, during the first half Wednesday night. (Ross D. Franklin/The Associated Press)

Nick Young, right, has words with Phoenix Suns’ Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris, rear, during the first half Wednesday night. (Ross D. Franklin/The Associated Press)

BOSTON –The Lakers entered a place where they once competed for NBA championships, and addressed some things that go beyond handling a decimated roster or Rajon Rondo’s pending return from a torn ACL injury.

The Lakers also held a team meeting to discuss Nick Young’s frustration that he was essentially playing “one-on-five” when he drew an ejection Wednesday against the Phoenix Suns. Young won’t play tonight when the Lakers (14-25) visit the Boston Celtics (14-26) Friday night at T.D. Garden because of an NBA-imposed suspension for committing “a punching foul” on Phoenix guard Goran Dragic.

Young lamented afterwards that none of his teammates came to support him after Suns forward Alex Len committed a flagrant 2 foul on Young, prompting both Young, Len, Suns forward Marcus Morris and Dragic to engage in a scuffle.

“We just talked. We’re all on the same page now. It’s just a misunderstanding,” Young said after the Lakers’ morning shootaround at TD Garden. “We all know what to do now in situations like that. Once we talked we air everything out, we’re all good.”

The Lakers addressed plenty of things.

Lakers point guard Kendall Marshall said he personally apologized to Young for being one of the starters who didn’t help out Young during the altercation. Young also backtracked on his post-game comments where he said “I don’t know if that was the smartest play at the time.”

“I take full blame being that I was on the court and being a point guard, I should’ve been the first one over there to pull him out there with what was going on, regardless of what I thought was happening,” Marshall said. “He had every right to get upset. It’s our job as teammates to be there for each other. I went up to him, squashed it and told him it will never happen again.”

A Twitter meme emerged that showed Marshall standing alone at the top of the three-point line with his hands on his hips, while the altercation happened near the basket. A caption read: Don’t worry Nick….Kendall got your back.”

“I thought it was hilarious,” Marshall said. “You look at it and it does look pretty bad.”

The Lakers also addressed how to handle any future altercations without drawing ejections and suspensions.

“You have to get in. You dob’t have to fight,” Young said. “You just have to step in between. Nobody wants to fight. Nobody wants to get beat up on national TV.”

Joked Marshall: “We’ll run over there, have 15 guys pick up Nick and carry him away.”

Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni sounded pleased with the meeting, saying “they’re fine.” But he expressed concern this incident illustrates why the Lakers have conceded at least 110 points in the past six games.

“We have to be more aggressive, not for fighting, but being more aggressive and playing,” D’Antoni said. “It showed we don’t have enough fight in our dog.”

Yet, D’Antoni remains wary on the perfect approach on how to handle fights. He painfully remembered how his time with the Phoenix Suns entailed losing to the San Antonio Spurs in the 2007 Western Conference semifinals after Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw both drew a one-game suspension after getting up from the bench after Robert Horry decked Steve Nash in the waning minutes of the Suns’ game 4 win. The Spurs went on to win Game 5 and close the series in six games.

“We lost two guys and we lost the series probably because of that,” D’Antoni said. “You have to be careful. The NBA has strict rules. You can show solidarity without crossing the line. That’s what you have to do.”

Should the NBA loosen up the rule at least to allow players on the bench to intervene without fighting?

“That’s tough once you get into that,” D’Antoni said. “What you don’t want to have is brawls and the NBA went through that. It’s not good for anybody.”

But it appeared the Lakers’ meeting was good for them.

“When you’ve lost 12 of 13, if you don’t have a little adversity, something is wrong,” Marshall said. “I think it’s good for [Young] to get upset with us over that and show some passion. Maybe it will light a fire under all of us and we can build on it.”


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