After a 129-101 loss to the Denver Nuggets, Lakers Coach Luke Walton took a little extra time to come out from the post-game locker room for his availability on Monday night.
He said he was a little baffled by the lack of effort he saw from his team on the court, and declared the post-game message unfit to repeat.
Here are five takeaways from the game:
1. A lack of effort seems strange at this point in the franchise's history. There is an entirely new front office, and Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka have made clear they are evaluating everyone. Nobody should feel safe. I asked Walton if, given all that, he was surprised. He took his answer in a different direction. "To me it's surprising that having the opportunity to play in the NBA, and play for the Laker organization, and coach the Laker organization — it's so rewarding and such a blessing," Walton said. "To me, it's not … whether this game's on national TV or Magic or Rob are watching, [but] as far as individuals from coaching staff on down, to show up to a game and not give more of a professional effort, that's disheartening to me."
2. Before things went off the rails for the Lakers, Walton did get to see a little bit of what he wanted to see out of Jordan Clarkson in the starting point guard role. He said there were times when Clarkson was thinking about what he was supposed to do, rather than being aggressive and letting his next move come to him. It's a common theme for Walton — he wants his players to understand that if they are aggressive themselves, playmaking opportunities will come. But they have to be looking for those opportunities when the defense collapses on them. Clarkson feels that he is getting better at having a feel for when to make plays and when to try to score.
3. Before the game, D'Angelo Russell said he'd like to get on the court with Clarkson, with Clarkson as the point guard and Russell as the shooting guard. It's normally the reverse. Clarkson liked that idea. "D'Angelo does a good job of scoring the ball," Clarkson said. "I do a good job of getting in the paint, causing two guys to guard me in the paint. We'll see how it works out."
4. Ivica Zubac was a bright spot in the game. In fact, in the same breath that Walton said he couldn't share his post-game message, he added that Zubac played well. Walton said liked what that kind of game could do for Zubac's confidence.
5. Zubac, on the other hand, didn't care much for his career-high 25-point game, given that it came in a blowout.
"I would rather score five and win a game, have the team win, than score 25 and be blown out by 30," Zubac said. He is the only teenager in franchise history to have a double-double with at least 25 points.