The word gets thrown around a lot after Lakers losses.
The lack of it is obvious if the Lakers find themselves trailing, when their offense melts into predictable isolation plays and too-quick heaves with plenty of time on the shot clock.
Lack of talent is one reason they’ll almost surely crash into the worst record in 68 years of Lakers basketball. Lack of cohesion is another.
One person stands up and takes accountability. He’s a rookie.
“Me being the point guard, I don’t do a good job of bringing it together and running a set. I put that on myself,” said D’Angelo Russell after the Lakers squandered a relatively good first half Wednesday in a 119-107 loss to the Phoenix Suns, the second-worst team in the Western Conference.
Jordan Clarkson missed too many shots, Kobe Bryant too, and Roy Hibbert was one for six, which is nothing new. He has scored in single digits in 20 of his last 21 games.
Julius Randle was the only Lakers starter who showed much of anything, finishing with 19 points and 15 rebounds. Even he seemed confused.
“Very frustrating,” he said. “We’ve all been ‘the guy’ our whole lives so I guess we’ve got to realize that somebody’s got to sacrifice something, really figure out how each other plays around each other, what works best for each other, instead of, ‘Let’s all try to do it ourselves.’”
What does the coach say?
“There’s nothing I can install to make them trust each other,” Byron Scott said. “They’ve got to figure it out."
He wasn’t without suggestions, though. The offensive set he recently installed led to a brief surge for Russell. Then the Lakers lost twice in a five-day span to the lowly Suns.
“Our guys, when they get flustered, I guess it goes back to being very young,” Scott said. “If it’s not going well, they try to revert back to old ways. They’ve just got to fight that feeling. You’ve got to stick with just being a team and trying to run through it. That’s when we get the ball moving and get some pretty good productivity out of a number of guys.”
Rookie shooting guard Devin Booker might be the steal of last year’s draft, averaging 21.9 points and 5.2 assists this month for Phoenix after being taken by the Suns with the 13th pick.
The Kentucky product said he would always remember Wednesday’s game because of his interaction with Bryant. Booker took a pass in the post in the fourth quarter and caught Bryant’s attention.
“I missed the shot,” Booker said, “but I used one of his moves against him and that’s the first thing he said against me: ‘You’re trying to use my own move against me?’ That was the only time we matched up but it’s something I will remember for the rest of my life.”
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Staples Center.
On the air: TV: TWC SportsNet, TWC Deportes; Radio: 710, 1330.
Records: Lakers 15-56; Nuggets 30-42.
Record vs. Nuggets: 1-2.
Update: Point guard Emmanuel Mudiay made a buzzer-beating 35-foot shot Wednesday to give the Nuggets a 104-103 victory over the lowly Philadelphia 76ers. The Nuggets still have a slim chance at reaching the playoffs. Mudiay, the seventh pick in last year’s draft, has had an up-and-down rookie season, averaging 12.4 points and 5.6 assists and making only 35.5% of his shots.
Follow Mike Bresnahan onTwitter: @Mike_Bresnahan