It took nearly all season for Jordan Clarkson to solidify a reputation as a steady, hard-working guard who allows his play to speak louder than his words. It took less than 30 seconds for Clarkson to offer none of that in a series of head-scratching sequences that prompted Lakers coach Byron Scott to yank him off the floor.
Well before the Lakers’ loss to Sacramento on Tuesday at Staples Center became official, Clarkson first committed a turnover that allowed Kings guard Darren Collison to convert on a fast-break layup. Then Clarkson responded on the other end by attempting a 26-foot 3-pointer that Clarkson described as a “crazy shot” at the top of the key. Clarkson then crashed the glass, a tactic that left the Lakers exposed on transition defense.
All of which summed up a night where Clarkson scored 12 points on 5-of-16 shooting, marking his third consecutive game he has shot below 50 percent from the field.
“It was out of character,” Clarkson said following Wednesday’s practice at the Lakers’ facility in El Segundo. “It’s those kind of shots I got to take out and get back to what I’m doing.”
Usually, Clarkson has done that.
The Lakers’ second-year guard has played 27 consecutive games where he scored double figures. He has led the Lakers in scoring 14 times. The Lakers have continuously praised his Clarkson’s work habits and publicly humble demeanor. They like how Clarkson attacks the basket and moves off the ball to create open shots. As Scott said, “I am happy with the way he comes to play every single night.”
Scott hardly looked happy when he removed Clarkson with 6:35 left in the first quarter and added later, “Those are the type of mistakes you can’t continue to make.” But Scott downplayed Clarkson’s recent hiccups.
“I don’t put a whole lot of stock into it,” Scott said. “You’re going to have stretches in this season where you’ll have bad games. I know him very well. He’s not happy with the way he’s played.”
It sure did not sound like it, though Clarkson sounded confident on the remedy to fix his recent issues.
“I’m just missing shots right now. I just have to keep shooting. I’m going to come out of them and make shots,” Clarkson said. “A lot of it is on shot choices. I feel like I’ve been shooting some bad shots these last games as well. It’s something I have to look at and find some easy ones.”