Byron Scott
Byron Scott coaches the Lakers against Utah in Anaheim.
(Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images)

Scott, Lakers Battle Injury Bug

by Mike Trudell
Lakers Reporter

Before every Lakers preseason game, longtime TV analyst Stu Lantz lists the same "Key to the Game": stay healthy.

Unfortunately for Byron Scott in his first year as coach, that really hasn't happened. Six players have missed at least two of L.A.'s four games apiece, which seems unfair after a 2013-14 season that featured an absurd, league-leading 319 games missed to injury.

If there's light at the end of the injury tunnel, only one player – Nick Young — is sure to miss regular season games with his injured shooting thumb. Nonetheless, the Lakers haven't been able to hold one practice in which both the expected starters and second team can go head to head.

Of L.A.'s other injury-list occupants, only Ryan Kelly (hamstring pull) has a chance to play on Sunday against Utah. Jeremy Lin (sprained ankle) and Jordan Clarkson (calf strain) could be back as early as Tuesday (vs. Phoenix), while Steve Nash (sciatica, back) remains a question mark.

Meanwhile, Xavier Henry is set to fly to New York to seek a second opinion on his surgically repaired knee and then Germany to receive Regenokine treatment. Henry, who has also been dealing with back issues, will miss the remainder of the preseason.

How do those injuries impact what Scott and the team want to accomplish?

"A lot," said the former Showtime Laker. "Every day right now in our coaches meeting, we're saying, 'OK, who are we going to have today? Who's going to be able to practice?' So we're trying to figure out combinations just to have 10 guys on the floor to be able to go through things on both ends of the floor.

"So yeah, it does affect the game planning. It affects your practice, because you want to have those guys out here. It messes up a lot of things."

When asked how he thought the injuries impacted things in training camp, Kobe Bryant echoed his coach.

"A lot," he said prior to Saturday's practice. "Guys aren’t on the floor that need to be on the floor. Hopefully we get guys out there and start playing with the unit we’re going to be playing with in the regular season.”

There's certainly been a lack of rhythm for the Lakers on the floor in the past three preseason losses after an opening win against Denver in which Jeremy Lin totaled 10 assists. Lin's absence has been especially taxing, with the absence of the dribble penetration he provides limiting what L.A. can do on the offensive end of the floor.

How can Scott and his staff compensate for the lack of bodies and cohesion in practice when putting in a new system?

"All you can do is just practice, just keep getting guys out here trying to get these guys familiar with one another as much as possible and familiar with the system on both ends of the floor," he said. "We'll watch a lot of tape to show the mistakes that we're making, to show the good things that we're doing so we can emphasize those things as much as possible."

And, of course, complaining about injuries won't help a whole lot.

"You can't sit there and cry about it," concluded Scott. "You just gotta move forward."

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