Lakers Voices

Lakers Voices with Byron Scott

by Mike Trudell
Lakers Reporter

Head coach Byron Scott sat down with’s Mike Trudell for the first-ever Lakers Voices chat. In addition to answering several questions from fans via Twitter, Scott and Trudell covered multiple topics, including Kobe Bryant's minutes, how the run of injuries affects Scott's job, 3-point shooting and more.
To watch the full interview, click here.
Lakers Voices contest winner Peter Kappelos asked the first question of the chat, of which a full transcription follows:

Kappelos: The question I have, Coach, is about the 3-point play. There’s a lot of discussion, I believe during the preseason you made a comment to an ESPN reporter that you felt the 3-point play was not the focus of the Lakers, (rather) more of an inside play. Since that’s happened and the season’s gone on, there are a lot more teams shooting the 3-pointer more often. What are your thoughts on that?
Scott: Well Peter, I think it’s great if you have 3-point shooters. If you’ve got guys that can stretch the floor and make 3’s on a consistent basis, it’s a great weapon to have. I think when I said that, we talked about that: Nick Young was out, Ryan Kelly was out. Those are two of our better 3-point shooters, so when you have those two guys out, you don’t wanna focus in on taking a whole lot of 3’s. You wanna take the ones that are available, and hopefully you knock those ones down at a nice, little rate. But if you don’t, you really want to look to get the ball to the basket or more of a drive-and-kick game. So Nick, he’s back. He’s one of our guys we really rely on. We’re still missing Ryan. We’re not shooting the type of percentage I think we can shoot from the 3-point line, and I think that’ll get better as the season goes along.

Trudell: Kobe Bryant’s best spots are, a lot of the time, the elbow or the block. So when you have your shooting guard needing the ball in those spots, as opposed to last year when you had Jodie Meeks who’s gonna space the floor, I’m guessing that changes from the way a lot of teams that do shoot so many 3’s play the game.
Scott: Absolutely. When your most productive post player is your two-guard, that means the spacing’s gonna be a little bit different. You’re gonna have one of your big men stretching the floor, like you mentioned with Ryan Kelly not being there, who would be a perfect example of a stretch-four for us. Then you can have 3-shooters around there. You can have Jeremy Lin. You can have Nick Young or Wesley Johnson or Ryan Kelly or somebody like that where you have better spacing and a better opportunity for those guys to get 3’s. Kobe’s one of our guys that loves the ball on the box, elbows and the mid-post. That’s where he likes to do his damage, so when we have him in there, you have other guys that can spot up. It’s just a matter of now making shots, and we had a ton of them against Denver that were wide-open. We just missed them.

MT: So say Klay Thompson is your shooting guard and you’re Steve Kerr: Your team’s probably going to take more 3’s than if it’s Kobe just based on how the offense is run.
Scott: Absolutely, because when you look at that team up there and you look at not only (Stephen Curry) but also Thompson: They’re great 3-point shooters. They live and die by that as a basketball team. And I still haven’t really seen a basketball team in the NBA win championships relying on the 3 as heavily as a lot of these teams do. If you look at San Antonio, they are an inside-out team. They don’t come down and jack up 3’s. They’re really getting it to the post to Tim (Duncan) and then they’re just kind of playing off of him. They’re kicking it out; they’re driving to get 3’s that way. So there are a number of ways you can get 3’s that can be successful. San Antonio does it the best.

MT: They do end up shooting a lot of 3’s, but they don’t just come up and jack them. They have a lot of movement in the offense. They have spacing in the corners from their wings. So it still, a lot of the time, orchestrates out of the screen-roll game, doesn’t it?
Scott: Yeah, because those guys all can dribble and beat you off the dribble and get to the paint. And when you do that, most good defensive teams are gonna collapse. And when they collapse, you’re kicking it out to guys on the perimeter for open shots.

MT: Tony Parker’s pretty good at getting to the paint, so once he gets in there, then you have one swing pass out, Duncan’s at the elbow, and then you got the open corner 3.
Scott: Correct.

MT: Here’s the question in from @PCH888. … His question is: Coach, have you thought about calling up some help from the D-Fenders?
Scott: No, not really. With the injury to (Xavier Henry) the other day, obviously Mitch (Kupchak) is looking around to see what’s available and what’s out there. (He’s) also probably talking to the league about a medical exception as well, so we got plenty of time for that. And obviously probably (in) the next couple of weeks, we will do something because we’re so short on our roster with players that are available. For instance, today, Mark Madsen and Larry Lewis had to practice just so we can get a 5-on-5 game going.

MT: What about you?
Scott: Coach doesn’t practice. Coach is half-court shooting and that’s it. Coach doesn’t run up and down the floor anymore like that.

MT: How about your son, Thomas Scott? He can play a little bit.
Scott: Yeah, he’s just coming off a messed up knee, so we’re trying to keep him out of there. He wanted to get out there today. But, first of all, we needed two bigs, because we had Ed Davis and Carlos Boozer out today. So that gave us just eight live bodies. So we added the two big coaches.

MT: How many fouls did Mark Madsen commit today?
Scott: He didn’t foul out, so that means we didn’t call fouls.

MT: Next question from @UJippers: He wants to know: How is your first season as the Lakers coach going so far?
Scott: It’s going great. I still love what I’m doing. I still love the team that we have, enjoy working with these guys every day. Today was another great, spirited practice. We keep getting better, especially on the defensive end on the things I’ve been preaching every single day. We just need a healthy team, because I would really like to see what we do have. When (Kelly) was healthy, Nick was still out. I thought within three or four days we would have both of those guys and we would get a chance to see what we have. But we really haven’t had a chance to see what we have as a basketball team yet. But I’m happy with the progress we’re making on that defensive end, and we’ll keep getting better and we’ll keep working.

MT: Do you try not to use the excuse of injuries? Do you still expect better competitive play and the defense to be better than what it was? Or do you try to understand where that frames into the big picture?
Scott: I don’t use excuses anyway. The fact of the matter of it is, like you said, we don’t have all our key components. But, from a coaching standpoint, you still want to be able to plug in those guys and still have those guys play to their capability. And you hope that their capability is somewhere near the guys that they’re taking over for. So that’s why you keep working your offensive schemes, your defensive schemes and you try to get those guys plugged in. Injuries hurt that, because now when Nick comes back, he hasn’t been in practice six weeks, so he doesn’t know all the defensive schemes we’re trying to put in. So he’s now having to learn most of those on the fly. So it puts everything you’re trying to do behind the eight-ball. But the NBA’s a long season. It’s a long grind, and you just want those guys to continue to get healthy. Once they do, you want them to really be able to step in and keep it moving.

MT: Next question for the coach from @LakerGang17: When will we see more of Jordan Clarkson in the rotation?
Scott: I don’t know yet. Jordan is one of those young rookies that continues to work his butt off in practice. I did walk up to him today and talk to him about that point guard position, because I had been thinking about bringing him in that position instead of Ronnie (Price), because Ronnie struggled the last week or so, especially offensively. But he gets after you so much on the defensive end that (it) kind of makes up for some of his inabilities on the offensive end. But Jordan is a young kid that’s been working, and I just wanna try him, and it might be soon. It might be within the next week; really try him at that point guard position. I’m gonna have to give him a real small menu of plays that I want him to run just so I can keep him out of getting himself in trouble.

MT: He’s a guy that obviously likes to attack. We saw it all through Summer League. That seems to be his instinct. … How do you get those plays instilled in him from the locker room onto the court.
Scott: It’s probably gonna be Nick Young (with Clarkson). It’s probably gonna be Wayne Ellington and guys like that that can shoot the ball. So like I said, it’s gonna be a real small menu of things I think he’ll feel comfortable doing. And knowing where he needs to be at all times and where his teammates are going to be. When it all breaks down, then: “Jordan, now you do what you do best,” which is trying to get get to the basket or get a shot for yourself. But he has to still be able to learn how to run a team, and that’s the one thing that I watched him in the Summer League do. And it’s something I think he can do on this level. But I know his instincts will take over at times, and I gotta get him to fight against his instincts for the first 15 seconds of the shot clock just to try to get his teammates involved.

MT: What is an example, without giving anything away, of one play that you can have him come in and do?
Scott: 10-15.

MT: And what is that?
Scott: It’s a guard-to-guard to a high pick-and-roll with the big man rolling. If that guard doesn’t have the shot, he swings it to the power forward or the weakside forward, who swings it to the guard into another pick-and-roll. So you get good ball movement, and you also get a chance to set a couple of pick-and-rolls, which, in this league, if you can get it from strongside to weakside and you can run into pick-and-rolls, you have a really good chance to get a pretty good shot.

MT: Next question, Coach, is from @ministerbtj. He wants to know: Where there any players that you patterned your game after when you first came into the league?
Scott: Dave Bing, and that’s probably a player nobody in this room knows of — maybe one or two people. But he was a great player for the Detroit Pistons for a number of years and got buckets. He was really, really good. I never had the chance to meet him until I was in Vegas a few years ago and ran into him at the casino just walking around. It was like a young kid that sees Michael Jordan. That’s how I felt when I saw Dave Bing. He was one of the guys that I really idolized when I was growing up, so I really watched him play when I was young and really tried to pattern my game after him. I thought he handled the ball so much better than I did. He was able to get to places, but I was just so much more athletic than he was.

MT: Are there players today — bigger guards that can shoot and get to the rim at times — that make you think a little bit of your game?
Scott: Not really. These guys are so much different now. When I watch them play, I don’t see anybody that reminds me of me. They’re bigger, they’re stronger, they’re faster, more athletic, can go either way; most of them can even post up now, which we didn’t do a lot of. Magic (Johnson) did that because he was so big and physical. It’s just such a different game now than it was then.

MT: MT: Can you see it getting to a degree where guys are so strong and physical with so much torque that it is getting dangerous to the point where seemingly the first thing I ask you before games is: “Hey, who’s playing today?”
Scott: You do, because, like you said, they’re so much bigger and stronger and the body only can take so much. The body has changed over the years and, like you said, a lot of that is because of the training and the eating habits of a lot of these guys have formed. But still, your joints can only take so much when you’re going that certain speed and then the collision with other players. It’s crazy. So to see some of the injuries that we’ve been seeing nowadays, because we used to say, “We didn’t get hurt like this back in our days.” We always attributed that to us being tougher. We weren’t as big or as fast, so some of that really is true because these guys are so much more superior athletes. So you gotta believe that this injury rate probably is going to continue until guys figure out a way to — I don’t know what they’re going to figure out a way to do without it happening on a regular basis.

An interesting case study might be Kobe. Here he is 19 years in the NBA and he finally got to the point where his Achilles ruptured. And last year his knee kind of went out after a while, but he looks so strong right now. Maybe, Coach, people don’t realize that Kobe spends literally 24/7 getting his body to recover.
Scott: Yeah, it’s so important to take care of yourself because of all the pounding that you take on the basketball court. I never believed in icing before I got into the NBA. I was like, “You gotta be kidding me.” But after a year in the NBA, I knew how important it was. … I never got ice. Never iced my ankles, knees, anything until I got in the NBA. And then I found out how important it was for maintaining and for helping your body recover, which was the biggest thing. So I truly believe in that now. And what Kobe does after every game, he’s got both knees wrapped up, and if there’s anything else that’s ailing, he has those (iced). The later part of my career, I was wrapping knees, hamstrings, shoulders, everything. So I do know how important it is to help that body recover.

MT: Let’s do one from @SamStayWinnin, and it is: What’s the one thing you missed while you’ve been away from L.A. all these years?
Scott: Family. Family and friends are always very important, because when I was going in those various places I was coaching, either my kids were here in L.A. or other members of my family. So that always made it difficult to leave to leave home, because L.A.’s always been my home and always will be. So obviously this is, for me, the perfect situation to be here. My kids now are grown up, and I have grandkids who I can see now. My grandkids are here in L.A. as well. When I was coaching (elsewhere), that was the hardest part. And then when the winter would come when you’re in Jersey, you start thinking about L.A. and how nice it is at this particular time of the year. You couldn’t beat that weather either.

MT: What’s the difference between playing Kobe 30 minutes a game and 35 minutes a game and sometimes 40? Can his body take the baring? Some people have suggested that his shooting has gone down in the second half. Is it because his legs are heavy? How difficult for you is it to try to pull him back, or does he want to play more? How is that whole thing going for you as the coach?
Scott: I knew from training camp when we talked about his minutes. He had a different number than I had, and like I said, the funny thing is my number was higher. It was all based on what I thought he could do for a whole, entire season and still be healthy, No.1, and still have enough left in the tank, No. 2, come March and April. When the season started, I’ve stuck to those minutes pretty closely. Over the last week or so, (we) went over those minutes a little bit. Obviously the Denver game because that went into overtime … and (I) talked to him afterwards because everything he shot was short. He said the same thing. He said his just felt heavy. So our discussion was just: Let’s see how these next three games go. Maybe we’ll have to revamp the things that we’ve talked about before training camp started and cut down on a few things, not only minutes-wise, but availability for practice and things like that, because he is a guy who understands his body better than anybody and how to take care of himself. So sometimes just getting up, driving in, getting dressed, walking on the court, taking a few shots and not even practicing — sometimes that right there can be a little wear-and-tear on you. So sometimes with him — a guy that’s been in this league so long and knows everything that we’re doing — sometimes it’s best to just stay home, stay off your feet and just relax and then come in for the game. So there’s a few things that we need to talk about after these next three games. And I wanna see how he plays in the second half of those games. That’ll kind of determine what direction we go in as far as minutes and some of the other things that we’ll do besides the basketball part on the court and off the court.

MT: When you think about those kinds of adjustments, is it: “OK, I’ve been playing him the whole first and third quarters.” Do you take him out at the eight- or four-minute mark and save four minutes there? Is that an example?
Scott: That’s an example. Like I said, those are some of the things that we will be discussing — myself and Kobe as well as Gary Vitti — on how we can keep him stronger in the second half of the game. And it might be taking a minute here or there off of each quarter, so he can be a lot more fresh when the game is on the line.

MT: Is there sometimes a way to get him easier minutes and still have his presence on the court?
Scott: Definitely. A lot of times what we try to do on the defensive end also is have Wesley (Johnson) guard that guy that’s gonna be running all over the place, (so) Kobe can relax a little bit more on the defensive end and rest and exert more of his energy on the offensive end. Then, like you said, when Nick came back the first two games, he came back and he had so much energy and adrenaline flowing, we were able to play off of Nick and let him kind of do his thing, and Kobe can kind of rest that way. It’s always helpful when you got another guy on the floor that can get buckets as they say, or create shots for himself or his teammates. And Nick brings that type of presence on the floor that allows Kobe to be able to rest at times. So there are ways, even though he’s on the floor, that he’s not exerting himself to the max. And it still might be 35 minutes, but actually it might be 28 because of the way that we’re using him on the defensive end and the way that we’re using him on the offensive end.

MT: A couple of questions about the defense. It’s clear just watching that it’s gotten better the last couple of games. What are the players starting to do better? Is it execution? Is part of it just not playing San Antonio and Golden State on back-to-backs? Are you starting to see things click in practice?
Scott: Yeah, the first thing is communication. That’s the one biggest thing that we’ve talked about in training camp. Our bigs have to do a much better job of communicating with our guards where the screen is coming from and what are we in at that particular time; what scheme are we in as far as the pick-and-rolls. Are we jumping it? Are we keeping it down? Are we going under? So the big has to communicate all that to the guard, because the guard can’t be in that peekaboo state where he’s trying to figure out where the screen is coming from. So our communication has gotten much better and our guys are impacting the ball much better right now. We’ve been a little bit more aggressive with the pick-and-rolls over the last four or five games, and I think that’s helped us be aggressive from the start instead of laying back and seeing how teams are gonna try to attack us.

MT: Question from @ryanprimeaux: He wants to know what what’s your favorite memory from the Forum?
Scott: I think the best one was when we won our back-to-back. We beat Boston, and we were able to run into the Forum in ’86-87. We ran off, ran into the locker room, we won at home. Winning a championship at home, to me, was special, because we were able to get that monkey off our back for the second time, and then also just being able to go home instead of going to a hotel, having to catch a flight the next day to go home. It was always special for us. … It was great to win that championship that year at home, and then we knew five hours later we were partying on the Rocks. And basically from that point on, we were getting all these calls to do “Good Morning America,” this show, that show. So we stayed up till four in the morning and partied, then got in the limos and went to our various shows. And that, to me, was the greatest. And you come home and have your house TP’d. Toilet paper everywhere, and you didn’t care because everyone in the neighborhood’s just showing their appreciation. To win at home at the Forum against the Celtics was the greatest moment for me.

MT: Who was more fun to party with, Magic or Jack Nicholson?
Scott: Magic, for me. Earvin was great to party with. He would be on the dance floor all by himself if nobody else wanted to get on there. He was just a guy that you loved to be around. And I love Earvin to this day. We had unbelievable, great times as teammates on and off the court. It was just fantastic.

MT: How would you describe the force of the personality Magic has?
Scott: When you see him, he’s almost bigger than life. But he’s also one of the most approachable people that you’ll ever come across, especially at his status and what he’s been able to accomplish. … He is the type of guy to give you the shirt off his back. He truly cares about people, and he’s always, ever since we were playing, we would always talk on the bus about what we wanted to do (in) life after basketball. He always talked about being an entrepreneur and helping inner-city kids and building all these things. He talked big. He had big dreams, and you could tell just by knowing him he was going to be able to achieve those dreams because he was so driven to be successful.

MT: This is one comes from @mellowman1001: One thing that worked really well in the preseason was the Lin-and-Davis screen-roll. We’ve seen relatively little of it this year. Why?
Scott: Most of the time because they haven’t been in at the same time. The rotation’s a little bit different. When we saw that in the preseason a lot, that’s when Steve Nash was starting. Then Jeremy got hurt and Ronnie Price was starting, so Jeremy was playing a lot with Ed in that second unit. So they had a nice little chemistry going. … (We’re) still trying to find chemistry with most of our bigs. I think Jordan (Hill) has done a great jobs being that pick-and-pop type guy that can stretch the floor a little bit. He can only stretch it to a certain distance. He’s not a stretch-four like a Ryan Kelly. But that’s the only reason, because Jeremy’s in a different role for us. He’ s a starting point guard for us, and Ed Davis is our power forward that’s coming off the bench.

MT: Do you have a particular player in mind to replace Xavier Henry? And from @Notstam94: How will Henry’s injury impact the team, the way you play and the responsibility of Kobe?
Scott: The one thing about Xavier is that he was just starting to feel better about the way he was moving on the basketball court. He hadn’t played in those last three or four games on the road trip because Nick had come back. So I went with a different rotation, but was really happy in practice the last couple of days watching his movement and the way he was able to get up and down the floor. And the crazy thing is: That day he tore his Achilles, we talked about taking the next step, which was trying to be more explosive, like he used to be. And the one thing he said to myself and Mitch Kupchak is that: “I know that’s the next step, but I’m a little nervous about doing that yet. So he wasn’t totally comfortable, but he was getting comfortable. And then he tears his Achilles the other day. So he wasn’t in the rotation at that particular time. I was going more with Wayne Ellington and Nick Young as the perimeter guys that were coming off the bench. But I was looking forward to the next couple of weeks, because I thought Xavier was really starting to feel good about himself and really starting to move well.

MT: Last question comes from @bigjbruin: How do you get an offensive-minded team — if you’ll accept the premise — to become a defensive-caliber, championship team?
Scott: You keep preaching defense and you keep knocking it in their heads every chance you get. You’ve got to hold them responsible for their jobs on that end of the floor. And like I did in Atlanta, we had a nice, little team meeting and basically told guys, “If you don’t play defense, I’ll take you out.” Because right now, it wasn’t like the guys that were in there were doing such a great job on either end of the floor that we were winning games. So it was like: “Look, we have nothing to lose.” So I think the message got across. And over the last four or five games, our defense has been much, much better. And I think it’ll continue to improve, because our guys are very caught in the fact that we have to be better on that end of the floor to give ourselves a chance to win.

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