Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott had little to smile about. The Los Angeles Lakers played the Denver Nuggets in a regular season NBA game at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. 11/3/2015 (photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles News Group)
The Lakers have some issues that go beyond X’s and O’s, Kobe Bryant’s health and D’Angelo Russell’s inexperience. Near the end of the Lakers’ 120-109 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday at Staples Center, Lakers coach Byron Scott said there was “a little bit of a verbal altercation.”
“That’s good,” Scott said after practiced on Wednesday at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. They tell me that they care. I want to see more fight in our guys. We want to try to stop the bleeding as soon as possible.”
Scott declined to name any players, other than saying that Kobe Bryant was not involved in the altercation. Lakers forward Julius Randle added he was in the game when the incident happened from the bench.
“We’re tired and don’t want to lose,” Randle said. “We’re competitive. That’s how it is. We have guys in here that care. It’s going to happen.”
Tarik Black, Lou Williams and Jordan Clarkson also closed out the game, making it likely neither of those players were involved in the scuffle either.
“A few guys discussed [the loss] in a very angry way,” Scott said. “If they just sat on the bench with a smile on their face, I would’ve been much more concerned. I loved it. It tells me that guys care. If they were smiling or laughing, I would’ve been pissed.”
Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant #24 in the 4th. The Denver Nuggets defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 120-109 in a regular season NBA game at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. 11/3/2015 (photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles News Group)
Only a little more than a year ago, Byron Scott vowed at his introductory press conference that he would make revamping the Lakers’ defense his top priority. Less than a week ago, Scott questioned his players’ effort and their toughness as they labored through another listless defensive performance. And then after the Lakers’ 120-109 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday at Staples Center, Scott suddenly pleaded for some more patience.
“We have to continue to harp on it, work on it and guys have to get better at it,” Scott said. “We have to keep working and trusting each other. All our players have to do better. All of us coaches, myself, have to do better.”
The Lakers (0-4) have shown few signs of getting better.
They have opened the season with four losses for the second consecutive year under Scott for mostly the same reason. They rank last out of 30 NBA teams in points allowed (116.8), are tied for 28th in defensive field-goal percentage (48.6%) and are 26th in fast-break points allowed (17.2). Last year, the Lakers ranked 29th in points allowed (105.3) and defensive field-goal percentage (46.6%) as well as 26th in fast-break points allowed (15.1).
Yet, the usually ultra-competitive Kobe Bryant stood by his locker remaining calm about an alarming trend.
“Defense and recognizing formations and stuff like that, it’s honesty stuff that comes with experience in recognizing what the sets are and what we’re trying to run and where to push it,” Bryant said. “You have to go through it and see where situations unfold. Then, when situations come up again, recognize where the actions are.”
Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant #24 shoots over Denver Nuggets guard Gary Harris #14 in the first half. The Los Angeles Lakers played the Denver Nuggets in a regular season NBA game at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. 11/3/2015 (photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles News Group)
Kobe Bryant emerged from the locker room quickly. He wore a dapper suit. He spoke in calm and measured tones despite the Lakers’ 120-109 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday at Staples Center.
All of which marked a stark contrast to two days ago. Bryant lingered in the locker room for about 45 minutes to receive treatment. He then sat by his locker, while planting his legs in an ice bucket. Bryant repeatedly criticized his play. All of which suggests that a day off from practice rejuvenated the 37-year-old Bryant.
“They always do,” Bryant said. “It helps the body recover.”
But on the court, Bryant suggested otherwise. He still scored only 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting in 29 minutes. During a time when he usually thrives, Bryant missed his lone field-goal attempt in the fourth quarter. And after swishing his first shot, a 25-foot 3-pointer from the right wing, Bryant shot three airballs. Bryant would miss his last four shot attempts.
“I sit for 30 minutes,” Bryant scoffed. “If you come into the game, you’re going to be a little tight.”
Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott and Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell #1 have a discussion in the first half .The Los Angeles Lakers played the Denver Nuggets in a regular season NBA game at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. 11/3/2015 (photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles News Group)
No deficit seemed too large for the Lakers as their point guard led a furious comeback. He made timely shots. He attacked the basket. He converted on foul shots. He organized the offense.
It still wasn’t enough to stop the outcome. The Lakers still lost, 120-109, to the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday at Staples Center in what marked their second consecutive year they opened the season with four unanswered defeats. But the Lakers still depended on a point guard whose commanding presence at least gave them a chance.
But that man was not D’Angelo Russell, whose seven points on 3-of-11 shooting and six assists coincided with sitting in the entire fourth quarter. Instead that role belonged to Lou Williams, who scored 14 of his 24 points in the final period. His shooting performance looked somewhat similar to Russell’s, going 4-of-11 from the field and 0-of-5 from 3-point range. But Williams offset that by sinking 16 of his 19 foul-shots.
All of which left Russell unsure on how he goes about trying to crack the crunch-time rotation.
“I have no idea,” Russell said. “It’s something I’ve got to deal with.” Continue reading →
WEST CHESTER — It took Nuggets guard Emmanuel Mudiay to wait through six draft selections before he finally heard NBA Commissioner Adam Silver call his name. But the unsettling feeling for Mudiay happened way before Denver selected him seventh overall. It happened when the Lakers used their No. 2 pick on D’Angelo Russell.
Hence, Mudiay acknowledged the recent draft proceedings provides more than just a media-driven storyline for when the Lakers (0-3) host the Nuggets (1-2) tonight at Staples Center.
“They passed up on me; that’s definitely a motivation,” Mudiay told Los Angeles News Group after morning shootaround at West Chester High School. “They took another point guard ahead of me. I’m a point guard. So I guess they saw something in [Russell] that they didn’t see in me.”
Lakers coach Byron Scott offered an honest assessment following Monday’s practice on what he didn’t see in Mudiay during two pre-draft workouts in Los Angeles.
“I didn’t think he was a true point guard,” Scott said of Mudiay. “I didn’t think he was a guy who made great decisions when we saw him and had him here. I thought that was something he would have to learn to do to run that position.”
Scott still predicted Mudiay “was going to be pretty good” and described him as “pretty athletic” with a “little edge.” But as a reporter relayed Scott’s assessment to Mudiay, the Nuggets’ rookie guard looked down at the ground as he listened intently to every word.
“That’s another human’s opinion,” Mudiay said. “I’m not worried about him. I just have to worry about what I do and worry about the Denver Nuggets.”
Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant,24, against Dallas Mavericks Deron Williams,8, during the 2nd quarter at the Staples Center. Dallas won 103-93. Los Angeles Sunday, November,01, 2015. (Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily Breeze)
Kobe Bryant was about to report to the Lakers’ facility on Monday before soon finding out he would not practice. The reasons had less to do with the 37-year-old Bryant’s health. Instead, it had more to do with Bryant’s demeanor following the Lakers’ 103-93 to Dallas on Sunday where Bryant posted 15 points on only 3-of-15 shooting from the field and a 2-of-8 clip from 3-point range.
“I know he’s frustrated and I want him to take a day off to get away from it a little bit,” Scott said. “He’ll be all right tomorrow.”
The Lakers (0-3) sure hope so. They enter Tuesday’s game against Denver Nuggets (1-2) at Staples Center partly because Bryant has averaged 17.3 points on only 31.4 percent shooting through three games. That explains why Bryant became self critical of his play following Sunday’s loss to Dallas.
Without any hint of sarcasm, Bryant ranked himself “the 200th best player in the league.” Bryant repeatedly said, “I suck.” He also described his play with an unfavorable expletive.
“He’s the 200th best player?” Scott said, chuckling. Scott then turned serious.
“He’s just one of those guys that expects a whole lot more out of himself than most people,” said Scott, who said he had talked with Bryant about his play both on Sunday evening and on Monday morning. “He’s very hard on himself. For him to go at himself like he did shows how much he cares about playing well. But it also shows he’s human.”
Los Angeles Laker Julius Randle,30, drives to the basket against Dallas Mavericks, during the 2nd quarter at the Staples Center. Dallas won 103-93. Los Angeles Sunday, November,01, 2015. (Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily Breeze)
As quickly as the ball tipped up in the air to start the game, Lakers forward Julius Randle stormed up and down the court. He dominated with his brute size. He showed off his versatile playmaking. He demonstrated his athleticism.
But Randle offered as stern a look afterwards as when he matches up against his opponents.
“I’m not happy tonight,” Randle said.
The 18,997 at Staples Center chanted his name, hoping Randle would come back into the game early in the fourth quarter to show off more dominance. Lakers coach Byron Scott eventually obliged. The fans greeted Randle loudly once he returned.
Cue Randle’s eye roll.
“Didn’t care,” he said.
Randle posted 22 points on 9-of-17 shooting and 15 rebounds in Sunday’s game against Dallas at Staples Center. It marked a huge improvement two days ago in Sacramento where he finished with more fouls (five) and turnovers (five) than points (three) and rebounds (two). But Randle sounded just as upset afterwards because he paid attention to another number. The Lakers’ 103-93 defeat to the Mavericks marked the team’s third consecutive loss to open the 2015-16 season, something they also experienced last year en route to their worst record in franchise history.
“I wasn’t happy because we lost. Regardless of how I play, I want to win,” Randle said. “I played better. But it’s a team sport. We’re trying to win. I know I can bounce back. But it’s not about that. I just want to win.”
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant #24 stands next to coach Byron Scott in the first half. The Lakers played the Minnesota Timberwolves in the opening game of the 2015-16 NBA season. Los Angeles, CA, 10/28/2015 (photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles News Group)
After a month of staying defiant on the value of his conditioning-heavy practices and prolonged morning shootarounds, Lakers coach Byron Scott became open toward changing them. But he shortened Sunday’s morning shootaround with this caveat.
“If I scale back and you come out with that lack of effort,” Scott forewarned, “I’ll go back to having 2 1/2–3-hour practices.”
Well, the Lakers hardly showed the right kind of effort in their 103-93 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday at Staples Center. The Lakers set the tone in the wrong direction by trailing, 15-0, just over four minutes into the game. Though the Lakers sliced that deficit, they still looked lost on both sides of the court. The Lakers shot 31 of 85 from the field (36.5% percent), while giving Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki wide open looks for a 25-point outing on a 10-of-13 clip.
So will this prompt Scott to follow through on this threat?
“It’s a small sample of really trying to see if they can figure it out,” Scott said afterwards. “We got some young guys that have to figure it out. We have to keep hammering in their heads about coming out being ready to go and not to wait and see how they play.” Continue reading →
Kobe Bryant trips over Dallas’ Chandler Parsons during the first quarter at the Staples Center on Sunday. Stephen Carr — staff photographer
Kobe Bryant slowly emerged out of the players’ lounge. Nearly 45 minutes had already passed since the Lakers fell, 103-93, to the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday at Staples Center in what marked a three-game losing streak. Yet, Bryant remained in his element.
He still wore a towel around his waist so he could plant his feet in a bucket full of ice water by his locker. Once Bryant sat down, he offered a stoic expression on his face. And then once Bryant faced various questions about his 15-point performance on 3-of-15 shooting and 2-of-8 from 3-point range in 31 minutes, the Lakers’ 37-year-old star hardly minced words.
“I’m the 200th best player in the league right now,” Bryant said. “I freaking suck.”
Bryant occasionally took digs at himself by indirectly referencing ESPN ranking him 93rd overall entering the 2015-16 season. But he usually laced his remarks with blatant sarcasm. This time, Bryant sounded totally serious after playing three games where he has averaged 17.33 points on a 31.3 percent clip and a 20.68 percent mark from 3-point range.
“I just can’t make a shot,” Bryant said. “Just playing like [crap] right now.”
Lakers coach Byron Scott has considered shortening shootarounds. (Photos by John McCoy / Los Angeles Daily News)
The Lakers may have caught an extra wind of energy. It goes beyond daylight savings time ending on early Sunday morning. Coach Byron Scott also reported reducing the length of Sunday’s morning shootaround amid players’ feedback that their fatigue could stem from his overbearing training camp and lengthy practices.
“I’ve played this game before so you can come to me and talk to me about anything,” Scott said Sunday morning at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “I’ll take it all into consideration.”
But it remains to be seen how much Scott will adjust his practice time, including whether he reduces his conditioning-heavy drills. It could depend on how the Lakers (0-2) fare when they host the Dallas Mavericks (1-1) on Sunday at Staples Center. That marks two days after the Lakers lost, 132-114 to the Sacramento Kings where they conceded 80 points in the paint.
“It goes both ways too,” Scott said. “If I scale back and you come out with that lack of effort, I’ll go back to having 2 1/2 – 3 hour practices. I think they got the message.” Continue reading →