The Los Angeles Lakers were in good spirits for Wednesday’s practice, after delivering an 18-point loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night.
Head coach Byron Scott said last night’s game was probably the best he’s seen this team play together all year, and Kobe Bryant looked more “at ease” than he’s ever seen him.
“When he wants to be a facilitator, guys really, really seem to get themselves available,” Scott said after practice.
Bryant had six assists to go along with his 22 points in 27 minutes, and is averaging 18.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.2 assists on 47.2 percent at just under 30 minutes over the past five games.
Of course, it hasn’t been Bryant that Scott has been worried about this season.
“Sometimes when you’ve got young guys like we do, they get stubborn,” said Scott referring to the Lakers young core. “That just doesn’t work for us.”
The Lakers had one of their better games of the season in terms of ball movement against the Bucks, finishing with a season-high 26 assists. Off the bench, rookie D’Angelo Russell dished out seven dimes, and Scott said he’s been impressed with their No. 2 pick, but wants him to continue to remain hungry.
“I think he’s starting to see the progression take place. His last four or five games have been really good, as a starter and as a guy coming off the bench. I think right now he’s feeling pretty good about himself, but I want him to be even more hungry now from this point on, because he can be even better.”
Interestingly, Scott actually said he’s given Russell less play-calling freedom as of late. Instead, Scott’s calling more plays for him to run, and recognizing that Russell has a much better sense than he did at the beginning of the season, for when to attack.
In a mix of both starter and second unit minutes, Russell’s averaged 19.5 points, 5.0 assists, 2.5 turnovers, and 33 minutes over the past four games, but last night was the Lakers first win in six games.
“Gotta build off of it,” Russell said about the Lakers improved ball movement. “Knowing that when we do stuff like that, the outcome is a win.”
The Lakers have a re-match with the Houston Rockets on Thursday night, which should be quite interesting given the latest news about Bryant’s challenge to Larry Nance, Jr involved Dwight Howard.