After spending most of February on the road the Lakers return to Staples Center for 13 of their next 16 games, starting with a game Friday night against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Playing at home for nearly the entire month of March could be a blessing, or a curse, Coach Byron Scott said Thursday at practice.
“Any time you are at home you can get into a routine,” Scott said. “It depends on if it’s going to be a good rhythm and routine or bad rhythm and routine because the one thing about being home is that you also have more distractions than you do on the road. You have to be able to balance the two.”
For Scott, the distractions seem to be a real concern as he plans to make the most of the upcoming month with additional practices to continue the development of his young players.
“I want them to take this very serious, about coming to work, getting ready and being prepared instead of being home and thinking let’s have some fun,” he said. “You have fun when you are going out there and competing.”
The Lakers’ 11-48 record, including a 128-119 loss at Memphis on Wednesday, suggests a good routine of fun and competition has been hard to come by all season.
He has averaged 15.3 points and six assists while making 46% of his shots the last three games as a starter and on Wednesday scored 22 points with a season-high eight assists.
The Lakers played seven of their last eight games on the road and Russell said a return to Staples Center is a pleasant change. “We got the crowd on our side, finally,” he said. “It just helps. It plays a major factor in winning or losing a game.”
The Lakers have lost seven in a row, giving up an average of 113.7 points during the losing streak.
Scott said he hasn’t changed how he has coached on the defensive end, but insists his players must be more passionate about playing defense every night.
“Our young guys are learning, they are trying,” he said. “But again, they’ve got such bad habits of when the ball is not in their man’s hand that they are not involved in the game. That is when most of the time their work [on defense] is just getting started, so I just have to keep emphasizing that.”
Russell apparently heard the coach’s message. "[It’s] just a conscious effort of wanting to play defense, of wanting to limit transition baskets,” he said.