Lakers’ Byron Scott to feature young core late in games “no matter what”

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott plans to feature his young players to close games "no matter what."  (Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily Breeze)

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott plans to feature his young players to close games “no matter what.”
(Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily Breeze)

Through the next generation, the Lakers have high hopes that D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson will deliver star power and championships.

But for the past week, those three players sat in the fourth quarter amid Byron Scott’s hope they would learn after laboring through sluggish starts.

Until now.

Scott said those three will close out games “no matter what,” including when the Lakers (14-55) host the Memphis Grizzlies (40-30) on Tuesday at Staples Center.

“They have to figure it out,” Scott said on Sunday after practice. “My goal for the next 13 games is to allow them to be out there and play through the mistakes.”

Scott reported that he addressed with the team and a few unspecified players about the team’s slow starts. Some of the issues included Scott’s belief that the team “is starting to shortcut little things. But Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson sounded unaware of Scott’s evolved stance on how he handles his rotation in late-game situations.

“He said he is?” Clarkson said when relayed the news about Scott’s rotation. “We have to do it, to be honest with you, go out and compete and try to get wins.”

Scott also stressed the starting lineups’ “lack of trust” and poor starts did not just fall on the team’s young players. Veterans Metta World Peace and Roy Hibbert also represent that group. So does Scott have any second thoughts on not featuring Russell, Clarkson and Randle in the fourth quarter earlier?

“I don’t regret that. But this is the time to leave you out there,” Scott said. “‘I’ve sat you for two or three of those games so you can watch how the second unit plays.’ We showed it on tape and will show it again. Hopefully that visual of watching and sitting there will resonate a little bit more.”

Clarkson suggested it did.

“On the court, you learn through your mistakes,” Clarkson said. “On the sideline, you’re learning and watching mistakes being made so you don’t make those same ones. Or if they’re doing something well, you know what to do.”

Scott predicted that Kobe Bryant’s possible return from a right shoulder injury will bolster the starting unit’s leadership. But Scott sensed other issues will still linger through the rest of the season.

“It won’t be solved this week. It might not be solved next week,” Scott said. “It might not be solved by April 13. But we’ll go into the summer trying to solve it again and try to encourage those guys to play in the summer league again together and try to develop that chemistry there.”

Yet, that will no longer result in the Lakers’ young core facing reduced minutes during crunch time.

“They absolutely have the responsibility to go out there, play hard and try to execute everything on the offensive and defensive end,” Scott said. “My responsibility to them is to put them in situations for where they have to go through learning how to play with each other and play together.”


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