Lakers coach Byron Scott could shuffle his starting point guard spot for Wednesday’s designated road game against the Clippers at Staples Center for reasons that have nothing to do with performance.
Scott brought up the possibility that Jeremy Lin could start amid uncertainty on if veteran guard Ronnie Price will play tonight after fracturing his nose in Monday’s loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.
“He came in this morning and looked pretty bad,” Scott said after the Lakers’ morning shootaround at the team’s practice facility in El Segundo. “To be honest with you, I don’t know if he’ll be able to play tonight or not. We have to wait until game time.”
Either way, the Lakers (11-24) will have their hands full when they play the Clippers (23-12). Though Scott still maintained the Lakers’ superiority with 16 NBA championships to the Clippers’ zero, he admitted it bothers him “a little bit” that the Lakers have lost seven of their last eight games against the Clippers in the past two years.
“It is weird to hear that,” Scott said. “That’s news to me. I have to chew on it a little bit.”
Scott also admitted he uttered “just a few” vulgarities during the Lakers’ losses to the Clippers last season in between segments as a Time Warner Cable SportsNet analyst.
“I wasn’t the only one now,” Scott said. “Me and James [Worthy] both were not real happy.”
Lin had originally started over Price for the first 20 games, averaging 11.9 points on 45.2 percent shooting and 4.9 assists in 29.7 minutes per game. Though Price had averaged just 3.9 points on 31.7 percent shooting and 3.5 assists in 20.7 minutes per night, Scott considered Price’s defense superior. Since the lineup switch, Lin has averaged nine points on 41.2 percent shooting and 4.1 assists 21.5 minutes while Price has posted 7.5 points on 42 percent shooting and 3.6 assists in 25 minutes per contest.
“I don’t think it’s a lack of effort,” Scott said about Lin’s play. “It’s just lacking the consistency in putting together back to back nights where he plays well on both ends of the floor. He seems to struggle after one really good game and the next game he just plays okay or not well at all. It’s a matter of consistency. It’s not a matter that he can’t do it. It’s just finding that consistency every night.”
Scott has often said this season that Lin appears uncomfortable running the offense and overthinks. That partly explains why Scott eventually assigned Kobe Bryant to more ball handling duties. The Lakers’ star will play tonight after resting in Monday’s game in Portland.
“The learning curve has gotten better. He’s still not 110 percent there,” Scott said of Lin. “That goes for about eight or nine other guys too, to be honest with you. He’s still learning the things I want him to do from a point guard standpoint. That’s something he’s not used to doing.”
Should Lin start, rookie guard Jordan Clarkson will likely have the majority of minutes at the backup position. Amid Price’s fourth-quarter absence against Portland, Clarkson posted five points on 2-of-3 shooting in 15 minutes. He has only appeared in 17 games.
“He still has to slow down a little bit,” Scott said of Clarkson. “The game is still 90 miles an hour for him. He’s getting more confidence each game that he is playing in.”