Lakers aren't using long season as an excuse for recent slide

The Lakers hit the wall (again). Is it because their young players did too?

It's a common theme around this time, NBA rookies accustomed to playing 30-something college games struggle because they play more than double that as a pro.

Julius Randle has missed 13 of his last 20 shots, D'Angelo Russell has been a little off and the Lakers (14-54) are losers of three in a row.

The last thing they'll admit is being a little tired. Russell recently turned 20. Randle is 21.

What wall?

"I feel good. I haven't hit it yet," said Randle, essentially a rookie after missing all but one game last season.

If there's one thing Coach Byron Scott hates, it's excuses. He's not about to throw any out there for the Lakers' slide since beating Golden State and Orlando in a three-day run last week.

"I know for a fact that they're young, they're inexperienced, they're still trying to find their way. As far as hitting the rookie wall and all that stuff, I don't know and I don't use those type of excuses," Scott said Wednesday.

He was a rookie in 1983-84, playing 74 games and averaging 10.8 points in 22.1 minutes on a star-laden team that went to the NBA Finals.

There was no such thing as a rookie wall, Scott added.

"No, I didn't know what that was," he said. "But it's a different age and time. A.C. [Green] said he didn't know ice was for your body until he was 26 years old. He thought it was just for drinks.

"It's just different. [Tuesday] night was our 68th game and that's two seasons in college basketball. So, yeah, they could be tired, but again, everybody's tired at this point and time in the season, so that's no excuse."

Jordan Clarkson has also slumped a bit recently, making only 13 of his last 44 shots (29.5%). It could be argued this was his first full NBA season after he played sparingly until the midpoint of his rookie year.

Some rookies on other teams are fading a bit, including New York's Kristaps Porzingis. Philadelphia center Jahlil Okafor is done for the season because of knee surgery.

Others are finishing strong, including Minnesota center Karl-Anthony Towns, who is averaging 20.6 points and 10.4 rebounds this month. Denver point guard Emmanuel Mudiay is averaging 19.4 points and six assists this month.

In case the wall did exist, Scott had recommendations for his players.

"You've got to take better care of yourself," he said. "You've got to eat right, you've got to get your proper rest and you've got to come ready to play. It's that simple.

"Game day, to me, has always been the biggest thing that day that's going on in your life. I don't know if our guys are taking it that serious, but they've got to get that point where they are."

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
A version of this article appeared in print on March 17, 2016, in the Sports section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "All in all, it's more bricks than rookie wall - Young Lakers have never played this many games, but Scott won't use that as an excuse for poor record." — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe