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Bryant and Scott Break it Down
How much can be taken from a preseason game that comes two weeks before the start of the regular season?
That's the question Byron Scott and his coaching staff were asking themselves after a second-straight loss to Golden State, one that came in a major blowout (116-75).
But Scott's been coming to NBA training camps since the early 1980s, and said he knows not to be overly concerned given the circumstances of the roster, even if he's not amused by two poor performances against a very good Warriors team.
”I don’t have a level of concern right now, to be honest with you, because I have to look at it with a grain of salt," Scott explained. "We’ve been together two weeks. I think we have probably five guys on this team that were here last year. So it’s gonna take us some time to gel.
”It’s gonna take us some time for guys to understand what their roles are and what they’re supposed to do. … I just know we gotta continue to work. Two weeks from today, we’ll be a lot better than we are today.”
Excuses aren't going to matter much if the Laker play poorly and lose regular season games that count, but for right now, there are certainly some mitigating circumstances.
Among them: the Lakers had five players — Nick Young, Jeremy Lin, Xavier Henry, Jordan Clarkson and Ryan Kelly — miss the game with injuries, and starting point guard Steve Nash wasn't able to play after the first quarter; Kobe Bryant has now played three games since last December and is still working out his individual kinks; and the coaches are gradually putting in more stuff on each end of the floor that takes time.
Bryant offered another explanation after Sunday's game.
”As you saw tonight, it was a little tough to get our legs underneath us," said Bryant. "We’ve been pushing pretty hard. I think everybody kind of has heavy legs. We practice really, really hard. We practiced today really hard for an hour and a half … scrimmaged, ran … it's still training camp mode for us. We're still pushing our legs pretty hard.”
Bryant knows that eventually Scott will start "tapering down," which was not the case on Sunday.
”The one thing I wanted to do against Golden State: We had a good, hard practice that morning, and then we had to play against a very good basketball team, so mentally it was a challenge," the coach explained. "And also physically it was a challenge. But I think the guys understand or they’ll start to understand, and in a week from here they’ll start feeling so much better about their legs and they’ll be in so much better shape, and physically and mentally they’ll be in a better place.
”So even though it sounds a little (like) madness, running the way we run them, but it’s all for the betterment of the team and for the end of the season where they’ll still be fresh.”
Scott spent some time describing some of the finer points of how the Lakers need to improve their execution, from spacing on offense to respecting the threat positions of the opponent on offense and, mostly, transition defense.
But his major point, echoed by Bryant, is that this team simply needs some time. They don't have the built-in mental edge of a San Antonio, Golden State or Oklahoma City team that returns with largely the same roster. But they also recognize that, come Oct. 28, they have to figure out ways to win games no matter to what degree they've gelled.
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