Head coach Byron Scott made his focus clear on Sunday, when he said that his young core will begin playing at the end of games, regardless of circumstance.
One of the chief benefactors from this news is D’Angelo Russell, who understood why Scott rolled with the hot hands of Lou Williams and Marcelo Huertas late in recent contests.
“I wasn’t really aggravated or bothered by being on the bench, because we were making runs and coming back,” Russell said at Monday's practice.
Nonetheless, the rookie called Scott’s decision “a great thing to hear.” Still, he didn’t agree with Scott’s diagnosis that the stating unit’s troubles are stemming from a lack of trust between one another.
Yet Russell did concur with his head coach that something is amiss with he and his fellow starters.
“If he sees that and he feels that way, there’s something that we’re doing to make him feel that way,” Russell said. “I don’t see it. I feel like we’re always talking to each other, trying to find ways to better each other. But actions speak louder than words, so if he sees it I guess it’s true.”
One of Scott’s primary critiques of his starters is that they don’t seem to be sharing the ball as much as they did when the Lakers took down Golden State and Orlando in back-to-back games two weeks ago.
“I feel like a lot of people feel that way and that’s what gets us in trouble,” Russell said. “Everybody’s like, ‘I’m gonna do it myself. I’m gonna go get 40 points tonight and put up crazy numbers to try to lead us to a victory.’”
As for himself individually, Russell has focused on growing in general over these final 13 games of the season.
He has made peace with coming off the bench for two months in the middle of the season, saying over the past couple of weeks that he didn’t feel like he had earned it in the beginning.
“In this league, a lot goes on with no explanation,” Russell said. “And there will probably never be any explanation, especially for a rookie. When things like that go on, you’ve just gotta stick to your craft and trust the process.”
Kobe Bryant remains questionable for Tuesday's game against the Memphis Grizzlies due to a sore shoulder that has bothered him all year and caused him to miss both of the Lakers' two games over the past week.
Scott said that Bryant's status is "50-50" for Tuesday, and that they believed from the beginning of the season that it would be "nearly impossible" for him to play every game.
"You want to make sure that you don't do some serious, serious damage to it, and 10 years from now you regret it," Scott said. "I'd love for him to play in all the games, just like you guys would and I know all the fans would, but sometimes I don't think that's possible."