As soon as Lakers Coach Byron Scott took his seat on the team’s bus Wednesday night as it pulled out of the EnergySolutions Arena parking lot in Salt Lake City, he checked his Instagram account and saw some comments from fans that really annoyed him.
Scott read that Lakers fans wanted the team to tank.
“We’re not trying to tank games,” Scott said after practice Thursday. “That’s absurd.”
The fans’ reason was simple:
If the Lakers keep losing and end the season with one of the NBA’s worst records, they increase their chances of keeping the top-five protected draft pick for the Steve Nash trade. The Suns traded that pick to Philadelphia.
“For the first time all year, I went on Instagram and saw some of the things they were saying and I said, ‘You guys are ridiculous.’ To think that that’s how we want to play,” Scott said. “We’re going to try to win every game and whatever happens after that with the lottery pick, happens. I think if you go into it saying. ‘We’re going to lose every game to see if we can get the best pick,’ I think it backfires on you.”
Scott said the Lakers are trying to build a winning culture and that only comes by playing “hard every single night.”
Although the Lakers have the fourth-worst record (15-41) in the NBA, most of the time Scott is getting that extra effort from his players. It doesn’t hurt that the Lakers have several players who are looking for new contracts for next season.
“Yeah, I think that helps as well because they can’t go astray because I have no problem sitting guys down,” Scott said. “So I think they understand that they’ve got to come out here and play hard every single night.”
Guard Wayne Ellington will be a free agent in the summer, but he’s not thinking about tanking.
“The hell with what people are saying,” Ellington said. “Obviously, we’re undermanned, we’ve faced a lot of adversity, we have a lot of injuries and you can see it in our record.
“But me personally, I’m a competitor. I’ve never stepped on the court or anything I’ve tried to do in life trying to lose. Obviously, fans are looking for the future, but we’re playing for right now.”
Nick Young, who has a swollen left knee that forced him to miss the Jazz game, got treatment Thursday but didn’t practice.
Scott said Young may be out a while longer.
“I don’t think it’s serious … but I think it’s serious enough where he might miss another game or two,” Scott said. “He’s still not ready to play.”
LAKERS VS MILWAUKEE
When: 7:30 p.m. PST.
Where: Staples Center.
On the air: TV: TWC SportsNet, TWC Deportes; Radio: 710, 1330.
Records: Lakers 15-41; Bucks 32-25.
Record vs. Bucks: 0-1.
Update: The Lakers are trying to get their first three-game winning streak since December. The Bucks may not score much, though they do play good defense. They average 98.4 points a game, 20th in the NBA, and give up only 96.5 a game, second-best in the league.