Byron Scott benches D’Angelo Russell for ‘trying to take over the game’

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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D'Angelo Russell passed on just 64% of his touches in the Lakers’ loss to the Mavericks last night – Los Angeles’ lowest mark. He didn’t assist any baskets.

He also shot just 4-of-12. None of his makes were assisted, and most of his misses wouldn’t have been if they’d fallen, either.

Finally, Lakers coach Byron Scott benched him after this shot:

Scott, via Baxter Holmes of ESPN:

“I saw the last couple minutes that he was in that he was really trying to take over the game, and that’s not him yet,” Scott said. “I want the ball to move a little bit. I thought it stuck with him. He tried to make the big shots and things like that. I understand that, but to me, that’s not him right now.”

Benching a young player who was playing out of control is generally good coaching. It gets an important message across.

But where’s Scott’s credibility? He said Kobe Bryant earned the right to take bad shots. Is it surprising Russell felt he deserved his turn?

Russell, via Holmes:

“I feel like I was taking advantage of what they were giving me. It was a small split window of taking a shot or passing it up with a shot-clock violation on the line. It was always in my hands and I had to take a shot. I missed it. I don’t know if [Scott] would’ve said that if I was making those shots.”

On that last shot, the shot clock was only a factor because Russell held the ball then over-dribbled – repeated problems. The shot might have made sense when it was released based on the shot clock, but even that’s dubious. More importantly, Russell should’ve never gotten himself into the position in the first place.

I’m mostly struck by this comment: “I don’t know if [Scott] would’ve said that if I was making those shots.” That sounds like a player who doesn’t trust his coach to help him improve.

Process trumps results. Scott’s reaction to Russell’s attempts should have been identical whether or not they’d fallen. We’ll never know how the coach would’ve handled Russell if he’d made his last, bad shot.

But we know how Russell feels about the situation – and that’s telling.