EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Byron Scott knows a lot about losing. The Los Angeles Lakers' coach is in the midst of a 10-game skid, which ties for the franchise’s longest losing streak, but this is nothing compared to the then-record 26-game losing streak he faced during the 2010-11 season as coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
That skid was the longest losing streak in NBA history before the Philadelphia 76ers lost 28 straight games between the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.
Recalling that 26-game losing streak Monday after practice at the Lakers' facility, Scott said there was never a point during it that he felt “beaten down.”
“There was a point when I felt there wasn’t much more I could do,” Scott said. “I’m sure probably [our] players felt that way as well. That probably was [how they felt by] the 16th or 17th game that we lost. I had to endure for 10 more and try to figure it out. I would go home sometimes at night and just say, ‘I don’t know what else to do.’ Sometimes you get to that point.
“This [current] situation, after 10 [straight losses], I haven’t got there,” Scott said, “because the one thing that I haven’t seen on a consistent basis is that fight and that’s what I want to see first.”
With a loss Tuesday to the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center, the 9-41 Lakers would not only set a new record for longest losing streak in franchise history, but they would also ensure a losing record for the third straight season, a first in franchise history.
Were there any lessons that Scott learned during his 26-game losing streak that apply to the Lakers’ current skid?
“The lesson that I had there is the first thing with the guys that we had, they never stopped playing,” Scott said, referencing the Cavaliers. “They kept fighting. That’s what we have to do. Because it is a challenge. When you have a losing streak, it’s a challenge. It’s a challenge to you as a man. It’s a challenge to you as a basketball player. And our guys have to take that to heart and hopefully we will. You’ve got to find the silver lining through any negative situation that you’re going through and the one thing for me, it tells me who I want to be in a foxhole with. As a coach, who do you want? Who’s going to come every night and be ready to fight and battle? That’s what you want to find out.”
Has Scott learned that?
“I’m learning,” Scott said. “We’ve got 32 more left. We made a statement this morning in our meeting, hey, let’s come out these last 32 no matter what the situation is, but let’s come out and compete every single night for 48 minutes.”
Players again cited communication as a key issue.
“We do it in practice. We just don’t translate it over to the game,” Lakers rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell said.
“That’s what we’ve been talking about all year,” Scott said. “That’s the one thing I am browbeating them with is, we talk out here [in practice] all the time. But we get in the game and we act like we’re strangers. Somehow, it has to end. It has to stop. Somebody has to be in control out there to kind of tell everybody what is going on. It’s not that hard.
“We talk in practice. We talk on the bus. We talk on the plane. We get in the game and we act like we’re [unable to talk]. It surprises me and it’s mind-boggling to me and they do know that’s a problem, but they have to figure out a way where they can communicate a lot better on the basketball court. There’s nothing I can do about that. There’s no drills I can put them through or anything like that. It’s just as simple as, [a player is] going to set a screen and I’m letting him know it’s coming. It really is. And they’ve got to get better at it. And they know it.”
Scott also said players aren’t blocking out when opposing teams shoot, a point of emphasis during a film session Monday.
Lakers reserve guard Nick Young said the Lakers “need a little bit of everything” and mentioned a “mean streak.” Scott agreed, though he wasn’t sure how his players develop that.
“I talked to them a little bit and I don’t like to talk to them a lot about the ‘80s and how we approached the game and our attitude,” Scott said, referencing his playing days with the Lakers during the “Showtime” era, “but I did it today and about their responsibilities, just like mine.
“[Then-Lakers coach Pat Riley] would tell me my responsibilities on the offensive end was to get out and run the right lane, set a cross screen. I ran the right lane no matter where I was on the basketball court. James [Worthy] was to get on the left lane, we did that. And so what I was telling our guys is the same thing.
“'If I asked you guys to do it, I don’t think you could do it on a night-to-night basis, and that’s just taking what the coach gives you and putting it into play,’” Scott said he told his players. “I don’t know if these guys have the mean streak. I’m trying to find out all that as well. I think a couple of them do but I’m still trying to see if it manifests itself where I can see it on an night-to-night basis.”