Lakers have Byron Scott wishing basketball was more like football

Lakers have Byron Scott wishing basketball was more like football
Lakers guard Wayne Ellington sends a pass between New Orleans Pelicans forward Ryan Anderson (33) and point guard Austin Rivers, hitting teammate Carlos Boozer during a Dec. 7 game at Staples Center. (Danny Moloshok / Associated Press)

Lakers Coach Byron Scott has changed up his rotation over the last two games, moving Carlos Boozer and Jeremy Lin to the bench for Ed Davis and Ronnie Price.

The trick has been finding the right balance of personnel capable of scoring and getting defensive stops.


"Sometimes I wish it was like football, where I could just sub guys in on the defensive end and take them out and put the offensive guy in," Scott said after the Lakers' Tuesday night 98-95 win over the Sacramento Kings.

Price is a better defender than Lin, but isn't nearly as capable as a shooter or creator. Davis is the team's best shot blocker, and though he can score near the basket, he doesn't have Boozer's post-up skills or jump shot.

Scott also toyed with his rotation down the stretch, playing Kobe Bryant at point guard. He also asked shooting guard Wayne Ellington to chase around Darren Collison, the former UCLA and Clippers point guard who was having a big night.

The combination helped the Lakers pull out just their sixth victory in 22 tries.

"It has been a struggle," Bryant said after the win. "I know [Scott's] trying to figure out the lineups that best work, where to move guys, when to put them in, when to take them out. It's a puzzle, an ever-evolving one."

Another matter is the inconsistent Wesley Johnson starting over Nick Young. Scott said he hasn't contemplated a change there, but that Bryant and Young may close out games together.

"[Young] not only gives us another scorer, but a guy who can create his own shot, so that gives us two guys out there, Kobe and Nick, that we can go to," he said.

Johnson is the Lakers' best athlete, capable of spectacular defensive plays, but he's also prone to disappearing for sizable stretches.

Ellington is another option, as a starter or a closer.

"Wayne's going to always play hard and he's going to always compete," Scott said. "He has a reputation around the league, that they're not going to leave him open."

Until Scott and the Lakers figure out a combination that helps them win more than 27.3% of their games -- if they find that combination -- the rotation will continue to fluctuate.

"It's going to constantly evolve until we really cement what our DNA is," Bryant said.

The Lakers are set visit the San Antonio Spurs (16-6) on Friday night.

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