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Guard Lou Williams trying to break out of shooting slump

The Lakers' Lou Williams passes under Dallas Mavericks defenders during a game at Staples Center on Nov. 1.

The Lakers’ Lou Williams passes under Dallas Mavericks defenders during a game at Staples Center on Nov. 1.

(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

The Lakers acquired veteran guard Lou Williams in July to be a veteran scorer off the bench.

The early returns have been mixed, with Williams averaging 12.9 points and 2.8 assists a game while shooting only 33% from the field and 22.9% from three-point range.

“He’s done a lot better as a leader than I thought,” Coach Byron Scott said after practice on Thursday. “He does a pretty good job defensively. ... He hasn’t shot the ball well, and that’s something that he’s been real upset about.”

Williams tried to downplay any concern about his shooting.

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“I’ve shot way worse than I have now. It comes with the territory -- when you’re a scorer you have good runs and you have bad runs,” he said. “Sometimes you’re going to have stretches where your shots aren’t going to fall and you’ve got to find other ways to make a positive impact on the court. Getting fouled and being able to get to the line has been one of those.”

Williams is averaging 6.1 free throws a game, including 19 trips to the line in a 120-109 loss to the Denver Nuggets.

“It’s an art form. He draws more fouls from the three-point line than I’ve ever seen [from] anybody,” Scott said. “He doesn’t necessarily have to shoot 45, 50 percent for him to be effective ... If he’s not shooting well, he can still get numbers up for you [at the line].”

Scott cautioned that Williams might still be adjusting to playing under Scott’s offensive system, in different roles as both point guard and shooting guard.

Despite his 6-foot-1 stature, Williams has played the two, not the point, for most of his career.

“It’s been years, the most ball-handling I do is probably when I get a rebound or an outlet,” said the 29-year-old guard. “Initiating the offense, bringing the ball down, it’s probably been five or six years.”

Williams said he felt things click for him on Monday, scoring 16 points on six-of-12 shooting in the Lakers’ 120-101 loss to the Phoenix Suns, his most efficient performance of the season.

Originally drafted in 2005 with the 45th overall pick by the 76ers, Williams said he sees similarities between his experience in Philadelphia and the 2-9 Lakers.

“It reminds me of my experience in Philadelphia when he had four or five young guys come in at that same time and try to put everything together on the fly,” he said. “It took us three or four years to kind of start to see some of the fruits of that labor. We’re rushing the process here with these guys because we’re like we need to go right now.”

As 19-year-old rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell learns the NBA game, Scott has turned to Williams late in games, relying on his leadership.

The team’s record shows the Lakers are still searching for answers.

“He has a lot of fire in him, a very competitive guy,” Scott said of Williams. “He spoke to the guys when we were in Miami and he wasn’t happy with the way we were playing at that time, and I think guys responded to it.”

The Lakers hope to avoid another losing streak when they host the Toronto Raptors (7-6), another team for which Williams played, on Friday night at Staples Center.

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus


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