At a time when they need something to lift their spirits, the Lakers suddenly discovered a source of positive energy.
After missing 15 of the past 16 games because of soreness in his left knee, Nick Young will come off the bench when the Lakers (22-45) host the Washington Wizards (35-32) tonight at Staples Center.
“Ain’t too much Swaggy can’t do out there,” said Young, who is second on the team in scoring with 16.8 points per game. “I feel good. That’s the reason I want to get back out there.”
Young has plenty of reasons, beyond wanting to build off his rhythm after practicing for the past two days and facing his former team where he played from 2007-12.
Young also said he has talked to the team about the need to avoid becoming the worst Lakers team in franchise history. The worst mark when the Lakers have played in Los Angeles happened in the 1974-75 season where the Lakers went 30-52. The Lakers would have to win at least nine of their last 15 games to surpass that record.
“It’s been tough. Just sitting back and watching and seeing some of the games when we just get killed out there, that’s frustrating,” Young said. “But it is what it is. Like I said, we all talked and we don’t want to be the worst team in Lakers history.”
The Lakers have sorely missed Young’s ability to create his own shot and his infectious energy.
“As long as you know he’s playing well, he’ll stay on the floor,” D’Antoni said. “If not, we’ll sub him in and out. It’s good to get him back and get him back in the flow.”
Still, it could be easier said than done.
D’Antoni has echoed concerns that the Lakers’ slew of wing players, including Young, Xavier Henry and Kent Bazemore have occasionally played too much one-on-one offense instead of passing the ball. Young, who has a $1.2 million player option, has also conceded trying to strengthen his resume in hopes of staying with the Lakers.
“I’ll just play hard,” Young said. “I’m Letting the fans know that I want to be here and I want to do what it takes for me to get some wins.”