It's already been a rough new year for the relationship between Lakers Coach Byron Scott and reserve power forward Julius Randle.
Randle didn't like being singled out by Scott for playing poor defense after the Lakers' 97-77 victory Sunday against the Phoenix Suns.
"I don't think there was defense on the court at all in the fourth quarter, and he singled me out. I think it was a team thing," said Randle, who didn't speak to reporters after Sunday's game but was available Monday after practice.
Randle was irritated on the court in the fourth quarter of a rare Lakers blowout, yelling at reserve point guard Marcelo Huertas to pass him the ball. Randle was trying to post up Phoenix guard Ronnie Price but was near the free-throw line, not down low.
Randle also didn't like being taken out of the game by Scott. He appeared to pout on the bench.
"Fifteen minutes. I was frustrated I wasn't on the court. Simple," Randle said. He actually played 16 minutes, scoring two points on 0-for-4 shooting. He thought his stats weren't poor enough to be removed.
"It wasn't like I was 0-for-25 or something. I took four shots. Still had 12 rebounds, still had three assists," Randle said.
Scott pointed out Monday that Randle came out of the game after fellow second-stringer Huertas.
"He's got to grow up. Simple as that," Scott said Monday. "I think the main thing I don't like is when you take him out of games, how he reacts sometimes. I chalk it up to immaturity and just being inexperienced in this level. It's going to happen again. I'm going to take him out of other games that he's not going to like."
Randle has lost ground in trying to recapture his starting job. Rookie Larry Nance has been a pleasant surprise since replacing him in the starting lineup four weeks ago.
Nance is one of the friendliest players on the team. There's no rivalry there, but maybe Randle is feeling the pinch of reduced minutes.
"That's almost asking if he's jealous of Larry. I don't think so," Scott said. "The one thing about Julius that I do know is that he wants this bad. He wants to perform. He wants to play well.
"Sometimes you want that too bad. You've got to relax and just kind of let the game come to you. But again, he's 21 years old. He's young. He's going to go through these type of things. As a coach, I'm going to let him go through it. I said my peace last night and I'm going to let him go through it."
Randle's stats are almost the same whether he starts or comes off the bench.
He is averaging 11.7 points and 9.2 rebounds as a starter, 10.8 points and 10.1 rebounds as a reserve. The main difference is in his accuracy -- he makes only 43.3% of his shots when starting and 38.9% off the bench.
If Randle, the seventh pick in the 2014 draft, needed to be apologetic to Scott, he wasn't.
"Basketball is an emotional sport. I'm going to feel some type of way about it," Randle said. "It's not in my control [to start], but regardless, I'm going to feel frustrated or happy or whatever it may be."
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