Jordan Clarkson vs. Memphis
Jordan Clarkson is introduced with the starting lineup before the Lakers' game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Feb. 26, 2016.
(Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images)

Lakers Seek More from Starters

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

After five straight games of first-quarter deficits, Byron Scott called out his starters following Friday’s loss to Phoenix, citing a lack of trust between one another.

At Sunday’s practice, the head coach maintained his position about the opening five.

“They’re just not playing together and they’re not trusting each other right now,” he said. “The one thing about it is: When they go through a little adversity, they seem to separate instead of getting stronger and more together.”

For Jordan Clarkson, who has started all 66 of his games this season, this means sharpening both ends of the floor.

“(It’s) just a lack of communication on the defensive end,” Clarkson said. “Offensively, we’ve just got to move the ball for each other. That’s just plain and simple. That’s the problem.”

While the Lakers have remained competitive during their four-game losing streak, much of that has to do with the improved play of their reserves, including Marcelo Huertas and Lou Williams, who pitched in 10 assists and 30 points, respectively, against the Suns.

“The biggest difference between the two (units) is experience,” Scott said. “The second unit is a bunch of guys that haven’t played together a ton, but they know that they need each other. That’s what we want to get our first unit to understand.”

Part of installing that lesson includes ensuring that the young core gets minutes at the end of games, regardless of how they are playing.

Against the Suns, Clarkson, D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle shot just 5-of-32 and thus played a combined eight seconds of the fourth quarter. But Scott says that they’ll now start playing at the end no matter what in order to strengthen their cohesion.

“If we get down six points, eight points, then they all try to do it on their own instead of trying to do it together,” Scott said. “That’s what the second unit does. The first unit will get it. I’m sure of it. It’s gonna take them some time, but I’m positive they’ll get it.”

With such poor starts, Scott teased the idea of making a lineup change by having Larry Nance Jr. start at the three. However, he also claimed that many of his team’s problems would be washed away by having their usual small forward, Kobe Bryant, back in that spot providing leadership.

Aside from that position, Scott wants his young players to primarily concern themselves with defense, which he understands can be difficult when so much of success is graded on the other end.

“For our young guys — and probably for every other team in this league that’s got young guys — this is the most difficult thing to do: not think about (offense),” Scott said. “But they’ve got to get to that point where that can’t be the most important thing on the table for them.”

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