Losses may have lasting effect on psyche of Lakers' young, promising core

LOS ANGELES -- There has been only one other instance in franchise history when the Los Angeles Lakers have lost in the manner that they're losing now.

That stretch came during the 1993-94 season, when the Lakers lost 10 straight games, a losing streak that this season's team has now matched after Sunday's 101-82 defeat to the Charlotte Hornets at Staples Center.

Lakers star Kobe Bryant has, of course, never faced losing quite like this in his 20-season career, and it's hard for the 37-year-old to even imagine facing a similar situation when he was a much younger player.

"I just know my personality," he said after scoring 23 points on Sunday. "I probably would've had an 80-point game at some point. Something's got to give."

But there's only so much Bryant could have done at such a young age as compared to what he could have done later in his career, right?

"That wasn't my mentality ever. Ever," Bryant said. "At 17 and 18, I had the same mentality I have now. I didn't understand I was 17 or 18. I thought I was just as good as everybody else."

That said, the current Lakers' roster is composed of many young players that the organization hopes are the building blocks of its future -- guards Jordan Clarkson and D'Angelo Russell, and forwards Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr.

And given that they are at what's considered to be a formative NBA age, there is always the risk that this onslaught of blowout defeats -- many of them coming by double digits -- will affect them down the road.

"I think the challenge for our young guys is to stay the course," said Lakers coach Byron Scott. "Continue to think positive. Continue to work their butts off and good things will happen. But if we can't figure it out from a mental standpoint at times too, then we're going to continue to struggle. And I think we've all talked about the lack of experience being a factor, and sometimes the game is a little too fast for some of our guys; and they've just got to step that part up, and it's going to take time."

While Scott said some players are lacking confidence and that "once they see it's starting to go south a little bit, they lose all hope and confidence," Russell maintained that he's still confident.

"We've just got to do something different," said the rookie point guard and the No. 2 overall draft pick. "Something's not working. We've got to do something different as a team. We just can't keep doing the same thing if it's not working."

Russell finished with 10 points, six rebounds and five turnovers, and he said the defeats sting.

"Losing hurts," he explained, "but we play every other day ... . At this point, you can't really keep up with how many you've won or lost. You just try to get prepared for the next one."

Can the Lakers learn from these blowout losses?

"Yeah, but there's been plenty of times where we've been in the same position like this and we didn't learn from it," Russell said. "I don't know."

Specifically, Russell pointed to the lack of communication.

"It starts in practice," he said. "We have trouble communicating in practice, or we'll do it in practice as a team and then just don't translate. It's more talking and not doing [it]. We might call out a switch and then don't switch. Or we'll call out, 'Go under [a screen], go under.' And we'll still go over top."

Lakers forward Ryan Kelly, who was aggressively booed by fans after missing several consecutive jumpers late in the third quarter, said that, for the most part, the Lakers are playing with effort.

"We're not making the right decisions on the floor, offensively and defensively, consistently," said Kelly, who finished with six points on 3-of-9 shooting. "I don't think it's for lack of effort or lack of buying in for any means. It hasn't started to click, and in this league, the talent level is too high for it not to click."

As Kelly later added, "We feel like we should be better at this point in the season."

Randle, the No. 7 overall pick in 2014, is trying to keep frustration at bay.

"I've never experienced anything like this," said the former Kentucky standout, who finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds. "I have no clue how to deal with it. I just take it a day at a time."

"Everybody is frustrated," Randle added, "but all you can do is put your head down and keep working, and come back the next game and give maximum effort. That's it."