Playing without Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers were absolutely annihilated by the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday. After the 118-78 defeat, Lakers head coach Byron Scott said he thought his team looked “scared” and “intimidated” by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Scott went on to say he thought the overall performance was pathetic (via Silver Screen and Roll):
“I don’t learn anything from it, the guys on the court have to learn from it,” Scott said. “They didn’t play well at all and really just got embarrassed by the way we played tonight, and like I told them, I said ‘it’s pathetic’ in every area. They just played harder than we did and like I said it just looked like we were in awe of that team.”
The young core of D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson all disagreed with the notion they were “scared,” although there was an admission that the necessary energy required to compete wasn’t there. Given how quickly things got ugly, that much is definitely true.
Interestingly enough, Russell had another reason for some of the Lakers’ struggles, and it was a bit of a shot across the bow of Scott:
D'Angelo always honest. "You try to make a run and sustain the run. There’s not much you can do when we’re trying to stay within the system"
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) December 20, 2015
It’s probably out of place for a 19-year-old rookie to be making that type of criticism in the media, even if there’s some truth to it. However, it’s also not that surprising to see Russell voicing these types of frustrations given how the beginning of this year has played out. The Lakers have lost a lot of games and he’s had his role jerked around, so tensions are running a bit high.