It’s been fascinating to watch.
Lakers Coach Byron Scott assumed dual personalities after back-to-back losses this week, part of the push and pull he’ll be forced to do in what is shaping up as another lost season.
First, Scott and Jeremy Lin botched an exchange on which play to call for a key possession Tuesday against Memphis. Lin thought Scott yelled “Go” but he really yelled “Elbow,” a set in which Kobe Bryant would get the shot with the Lakers down three. Lin passed the ball to Jordan Hill, who missed an open 21-footer with 28 seconds left.
The Lakers lost and Scott immediately took responsibility, saying he should have also given Lin a visual cue for the play call amid the din of FedExForum.
A day later, the Lakers allowed 60 points in the paint and lost much more decisively to New Orleans. (The 109-102 score didn’t reflect a meaningless late run by Lakers reserves.)
Scott went on the attack, skewering an admittedly awful defense. His word of choice was “terrible,” and he kept using it. He also said the Lakers’ defense might not be fixable.
“Most of the time the things that we want to do, they haven’t done. I don’t know if it’s because they’re incapable of doing it or not,” Scott said. “If they can’t, then we’ll change and go to something else.”
The Lakers (1-7) are last in the league on defense, allowing 111.5 points a game. Only Denver (111.1) was allowing more than 107 a game before Thursday’s games.
Lakers big men Carlos Boozer and Hill aren’t tall enough to be shot blockers, Bryant isn’t as agile as he used to be, and Wesley Johnson disappears far too often to be a true defensive stopper.
No wonder Bryant referred to the New Orleans game as “a layup drill.”
The Lakers’ bench has two shot blockers — Robert Sacre and, in particular, Ed Davis — but neither can consistently score, though Davis has shown a few bursts in his first Lakers season.
Nick Young will return next week from a torn thumb ligament, but he’ll help on offense, not defense.
“It should be fixable,” Bryant said. “Just plug that lane and take care of the paint.”
Easier said than defended.
Scott’s deja vu
Scott’s anti-defense stance took place in New Orleans, a city with which he’s very familiar.
The New Orleans Hornets went 18-64 in 2004-05, Scott’s first year as their coach.
A still relatively svelte Baron Davis played only 18 games that season before being traded and the gift of Chris Paul wouldn’t arrive until the next season, which meant a lot of losses. Lee Nailon, David Wesley and Dan Dickau became the Hornets’ top scorers in the 2004-05 season.
Scott was asked to compare that team with the present-day Lakers.
“There’s some similarities, but we didn’t have a No. 24,” Scott said, referring to Bryant. “That’s a big difference. We’ve got somebody that we can throw the ball to at the end of games if we can keep it close.
“But as far as trying to rebuild and everything, yeah, a lot of similarities as far as trying to put your handprint on them … especially that defensive end of the floor.”