Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott was noticeably frustrated after Monday’s loss to the Phoenix Suns, calling on his team to “man up” and discrediting any concerns about fatigue on a back-to-back. By Thursday, Scott had reviewed the tape and softened up Monday’s frustration, even mentioning that the early road trip took its toll on the young core.
Scrimmaging (and box-out drills) were the the theme of Thursday’s practice and Scott was satisfied with the competitiveness and spirit on the practice floor, but his biggest concern is still how to translate great practices into game time, specifically in the area of communication.
“The biggest thing that I was concerned about is communication,” Scott voiced on Thursday. “We talk a lot out here, but when we get in the game, we don’t talk as much to each other, and we’ve got to get to the point where guys are really having each other’s back by talking and communicating.”
Veteran Lou Williams expressed the exact sentiment as Scott, saying that the biggest challenge the Lakers are currently facing is translating great practices into game scenarios.
“We come into practice, and we have a ton of energy with these guys. They talk, they communicate. We’re getting after it,” Williams said Thursday, with an emphasis on the younger players. “Then, in the games, we kind of take a step back because we’re playing against somebody different then the guys you are comfortable with.”
To Scott’s surprise, Williams has emerged as quite a leader and mentor to this young core.
“He’s pretty fiery,” Scott said of the reigning Sixth Man Of The Year. “He spoke to the guys when we were in Miami, and he wasn’t happy about the way we were playing at that time and I think guys responded to it. But, that’s the one thing that I didn’t think we were getting is a leader and that’s exactly what he is.”
Scott said he’s noticed how “adamant” Williams has been in the locker room with the younger players, and Williams admitted that this is a bit of a new role for him.
“It’s been different. It reminds me of my experience when I was in Philadelphia, when we had four or five young guys come in at the same time and try to put everything in on the fly. It took us like three or four years to kind of start seeing some of the fruits of the labor.”
However, the Lakers don’t have that same timetable.
“We’re rushing the process with these guys because we’re like, ‘We need to do it right now.’ It’s been a very different role for me, just trying to get those guys to have the knowledge that I have about the game and try to help the best way that I can.”
When mentoring the young core, Williams remembers what he learned in his first couple years in the league.
“Just how to come in and compete everyday and understand that at this point it’s not a hobby, that it’s not something you do on the weekends. This is your job. You have to come in and have a professional attitude and that requires you to carry yourself in a certain manner and requires you to come in and compete everyday in the practice and in the games.”
Offensively, Williams has struggled to find his shot to start the season, averaging 12.9 points per game, but shooting just 32.7 percent from the field and 22.4 percent from three. But, Williams has found ways to contribute in other ways, whether that’s getting to the charity stripe or assuming the role of point guard when needed, something he said he hasn’t done for over five years.
Williams hopes it comes together on Friday night as the Lakers take on his former team, the Toronto Raptors.