Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson goes to the hoop against the Trail Blazers’ Robin Lopez, Friday, April 3, 2015, at Staples Center. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker/L.A. Daily News)
He may be on the brink of overseeing the worst Lakers’ team in franchise history. He also has fought a flu bug in recent days. But Lakers coach Byron Scott still managed to keep his sense of humor.
The Lakers (21-60) enter their season-finale on Wednesday against the Sacramento Kings (28-53) at Staples Center without starting rookie point guard Jordan Clarkson and starting small forward Wesley Johnson because of sprained left ankles. It marks a fitting to an ugly season ravaged by season-ending injuries to Kobe Bryant (right shoulder), Steve Nash (back), Julius Randle (right leg), Wayne Ellington (right shoulder), Nick Young (left knee), Jeremy Lin (left knee), Ronnie Price (right elbow), Xavier Henry (left Achilles tendon) and Dwight Buycks (fractured right hand).
“It’s kind of hilarious that the end of the season you look at it now,” Scott said. “I’m smiling and shaking my head and just going, wow. You can’t do anything but laugh about it.”
Here’s something that’s more laughable.
The Lakers’ starting backcourt will include Vander Blue (who signed with the Lakers two days ago) and Jabari Brown (who signed with the Lakers last month). The rest of the starting lineup will feature Ryan Kelly (small forward), Jordan Hill (power forward) and Tarick Black (center), while the lone reserves include a Carlos Boozer, Ed Davis and Robert Sacre frontcourt.
How do the Lakers play?
“A lot of zone and hope to God nobody gets hurt and nobody gets in foul trouble,” Scott said. “When I talk about nobody, I mean Jabari Brown and Vander Blue. Those are the only two guards I have. I can’t afford for any of them to get into foul trouble.”
The Lakers encountered a similar situation last year.
They have eight available players entering a game late February in Cleveland before Young and Jordan Farmar left the game with injuries. Chris Kaman then fouled out. Yet, Sacre stayed on the floor after collecting six fouls because the Lakers ran out of healthy bodies. The Lakers still somehow beat Cleveland, 119-108.
Scott said he hadn’t thought about that scenario, but believes that the Lakers will not encounter a similar scenario. But Scott still instructed Brown and Blue to avoid foul trouble by not reaching.
“Both are young,” Scott said. “So I don’t see why neither couldn’t play 48 minutes. It just a matter of staying out of foul trouble.”
But how will they play?
Vander’s first practice took place on Wednesday’s morning shootaround. Brown has shown promise as a scorer and defender, but this season marks the first time he held ball-handling duties. Scott remains optimistic both players’ background with the Lakers’ Development League affiliate, the D-Fenders, will minimize any mistakes. But Scott could not resist cracking a one-liner on how the two will become the team’s point guard.
“Whoever gets the ball,” Scott said. “Whoever gets it on the rebound or on the outlet, they’re going to be point guard.”
Scott then turned serious, kind of.
“Jabari, because he’s been with us longer and he played the point guard,” Scott said. “He has a better feel than with Vander. He’s been with us two days.”
But in this injury-ravaged season, that has proven enough time to quickly climb into the Lakers’ rotation.
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