With 4:43 left in the fourth quarter of the Lakers’ 20-point win against the Suns Sunday, Lakers’ coach Byron Scott yanked Julius Randle from the court, the first of him pulling all the bench players and re-inserting the starters to preserve the win. That would be three wins in a row for Los Angeles, something to celebrate.
After the game, Scott expressed his frustration with Randle. From Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times:
Randle didn’t exactly show deference to the coach when he heard the comments.
My first thought: Byron Scott wants to single out a particular Laker for not playing defense now? This team hasn’t played defense all season (they are tied for the worst defense in the NBA heading into Monday’s games).
My second thought: I like players who don’t want to be pulled out of the game.
Scott’s skill at developing young players has been a question mark all season (and at a couple of coaching stops before this one). He pulled the team’s future to get the starters in (which does include Larry Nance and Jordan Clarkson) so they could preserve the win and improve to 8-27 on the season. It’s fair to ask if the Lakers are not better served long term with their highest ceiling young players learning to play through trouble.
Was he wrong in this particular instance? That can be debated. But the trend of leaning on veterans and sacrificing long-term growth for the sake of short-term wins seems to be a season-long trend for the Lakers.