D'Angelo Russell benched for 'trying to take over'

"I love the fact that he has confidence," Lakers coach Byron Scott said of rookie D'Angelo Russell. "When it gets to the point where it's cockiness, then we've got a problem." Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES -- With 2:31 seconds left in the fourth quarter Tuesday at Staples Center, Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott benched his rookie point guard D'Angelo Russell.

At that point, the Lakers trailed the Dallas Mavericks by two points. On the Lakers' possession prior to making the substitution, Russell had missed a 3-point shot that would have given his team the lead.

Russell, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 draft, watched the rest of the game from the bench as the Mavericks went on to win 92-90, dropping the Lakers to 9-38.

After the loss, Scott explained why he benched the team's promising 19-year-old -- and the answer seemed a bit harsher than usual, which is saying something considering the harsh criticism Scott has given Russell all season.

"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."

In general, Scott said of Russell, "He's been more aggressive to score. I think sometimes he's taking what they're giving him, and I think there's other times where I think he's kind of forcing the issue. He has to find a happy medium. He's learning."

Russell finished with 12 points on 4-of-12 shooting to go along with two rebounds and no assists in nearly 25 minutes. Russell scored five points on 2-of-5 shooting in the fourth quarter before being benched, and he defended his play late in the game.

"We had four, five playmaking players out there," Russell said. "I feel like everybody was trying to [take over]. They're a veteran team. They rarely mess up. So when you catch them slipping a little bit, you've got to take advantage of it."

As Russell added, "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."

Russell is nothing if not confident, as evidenced by his fact that after he scored a career-high 27 points in a Jan. 7 road loss to the Sacramento Kings, he proclaimed, "Y'all ain't seen nothing yet. The world hasn't seen anything yet."

"I love the fact that he has confidence," Scott said. "When it gets to the point where it's cockiness, then we've got a problem."

Is he close to that point of cockiness where it becomes a problem?

"I think he's pretty close," Scott said. "I don't think he's there. I just think he feels right now that he's got a lot of confidence in himself. Like I said, that's a good thing. You don't get this far without having that. And sometimes you don't get this far without having a little cockiness, as well. But you don't want that to overshadow the confidence that he has.

"I think when you get cocky, you're thinking that there's nothing that you can't do. And if you think that, then you stop working."