Byron Scott was simmering after another loss. These games still mean a lot to him.
Scores of Lakers fans have turned their back on the team, rooting quietly for losses — or maybe loudly — to improve the all-important lottery position.
Scott hates that type of talk.
He's resigned to the fact that this is a rebuilding project. But the almost nightly sting of defeat sometimes muddles the big picture in his mind. He especially hates the bad losses.
The coach lit into the Lakers at halftime of their 101-94 defeat Thursday against the woeful New York Knicks. He was still unhappy afterward.
He still has two more guaranteed years on his contract and then another one that's a team option.
Why the stress?
"I hate losing. No matter what, I hate losing," he said after the Lakers were swept by the Knicks in the season series, continuing to circle the drain ever so closely to the worst team in franchise history.
The Minneapolis Lakers won 26.4% of their games in 1957-58. The Lakers (17-47) have won 26.6% of their games this season.
"We played teams in the '80s that we knew we were better than, and we made it a point to come out and prove it right away because we didn't want to get embarrassed," said Scott, a three-time NBA champion as a Lakers player. "Our guys didn't have that mind-set [Thursday]."
The Lakers haven't been blown out in many games, their last double-digit loss coming Feb. 11 against Portland.
Scott was particularly annoyed Thursday because Tim Hardaway Jr. hit the Lakers up for 22 points, making five of seven three-point shots.
The scouting report given to players included information that Hardaway Jr. was a shooter, not the type to put the ball on the floor and drive. The Lakers, though, kept guarding him as if he would blow past them.
"Our lack of focus was unbelievable," Scott said.
Brown's first game
Jabari Brown made his NBA debut Thursday after being signed by the Lakers from their Development League affiliate.
"The lights are really bright," Brown said of Staples Center after scoring seven points against New York.
He went through training camp with the Lakers but was cut before opening night and spent the last few months with the L.A. D-Fenders. He became a D-League All-Star, averaging 24.4 points a game, before signing a 10-day contract with the Lakers.
One reason Brown didn't stick beyond exhibition season was a lack of aggression, Scott said — which clearly wasn't an issue Thursday. Brown made three of six shots in 17½ minutes.
"That's something he told me, when he let me go," Brown said. "I wasn't going to let that happen twice. If I'm going to make a mistake, I'm going to let it be something else."
His debut impressed Scott.
"Out of all our guys, I thought Jabari played the best," Scott said. "I thought he did a pretty good job, for being just kind of thrown in there for that many minutes."
Next Thursday is the last day of Brown's $29,843 contract. The Lakers can offer him a second 10-day, after which they'll have to decide whether he's worth keeping the rest of the season.
Times correspondent Eric Pincus contributed to this report.