Coach Byron Scott was not amused as the Lakers flew from Orlando to Dallas, leaving behind a two-point loss and unknowingly headed toward an eight-point one.
He found an unlikely ally, a surprisingly patient one whose name says little to nothing about the concept of serenity.
Kobe Bryant saw Scott onboard the charter flight Thursday and stopped to talk.
“He said, ‘You look like you’re ready to kill somebody,’” Scott said Saturday. “I said, ‘Man, I’m just so frustrated.’”
It’s been that kind of season. The 20-year NBA veteran is consoling the 15-year NBA coach.
Scott is well aware that Lakers followers are boomeranging between panic and abject panic. The team has played better lately but not well enough to avoid a 1-8 start.
Trouble in Lakerland? You bet.
“I know a lot of people aren’t happy with our record and where we are,” Scott acknowledged. “But I’m happy with the progress that we’re making, especially at that [defensive] end of the floor. That was the main objective coming into this season, to form an identity on that defensive end and let everything else kind of take care of itself.”
Scott has preached defense from day one and correctly observes some improvement there. After allowing an average of 116.8 points in their first four games, the Lakers have allowed 97.8 their last five.
Then again, they aren’t exactly playing Golden State, the Clippers and Oklahoma City. The last five games were against Brooklyn, New York, Miami, Orlando and Dallas, teams with a combined 21-26 record before Saturday.
It’s not lost on Scott that three Lakers starters are 19, 20 and 23 years old.
“We obviously are keeping ourselves in the game. We have an opportunity to win toward the end, the last two or three minutes, and then our youth kind of shows up at times,” he said. “But that’s how they’ve got to get some experience. You’ve got to fall down every now and then and you’ve got to get back up.”
If the falls keep happening, though, the consoling chats with Bryant will get only more frequent.
The Lakers have back-to-back games Sunday against Detroit and Monday at Phoenix, leading to the usual chorus of “How much will Kobe play?” questions.
Scott envisioned Bryant appearing in both games of a back-to-back several days ago, but Bryant sat out against Miami and Orlando because of a sore back.
He’s expected to play Sunday, but what about Monday?
“We’ll see,” Scott said. “We still didn’t get a chance to go through it like we wanted to, where he was going to play both. We’ll have to wait until [Sunday] and see how he plays and see how he feels and then we’ll go from there.”
Bryant, 37, is averaging 16.9 points on 33.9% shooting. He has made only 13 of 56 three-point attempts (23.2%).