Defense, Intensity Talk of Practice

With the Denver Nuggets hitting 120 points in their Tuesday-night win over the Lakers, L.A. head coach Byron Scott was offered a reminder of how far his defense still has to go.

Scott has preached defense above all else since his first day as Lakers coach, but results have not followed in the first four games of the season, as L.A. ranks last in points allowed (116.8) and turnovers forced (11.8).

But Scott did see a positive sign toward the end of the fourth quarter on Tuesday when some Lakers, whom he didn’t name, jawed at each other regarding the team’s poor play.

“We had a little bit of an altercation last night, which was good,” Scott said at Wednesday’s practice. “That tells me that they care. I want to see more fight in our guys. We want to try to stop the bleeding as soon as possible.”

Scott said that he “loved” seeing his players react that way instead of being satisfied with the loss.

“A few guys kind of discussed it in an angry way,” he said. “If they had just sat on the bench with a smile on their face, I would be much more concerned.”

Julius Randle has been smile-free after games this season. Despite averaging 14.0 points and a team-leading 8.3 rebounds, Randle has expressed little but frustration in each postgame locker room thus far.

He also said that altercations like Tuesday’s are “expected when you’re in a battle.”

“We just don’t want to lose, man,” Randle said. “It’s competitive. We’ve got guys in here that care. It’s gonna happen.”

Randle discussed breaking bad habits at Wednesday’s practice, giving a personal example of learning to not play defense so straight-legged during the Denver defeat.

Scott expects a learning curve with so many young players, but the team’s trend of going through spurts of good defense followed by poor stretches has been his main criticism.

“If I didn’t see it at all, it’d be a different story,” Scott said. “But we’ll see it for two quarters, and all of a sudden we don’t see it for the next two. … That makes it even more frustrating when you know your guys have it in (them) to do it, but they lose their focus.”