Lakers Young Players to “Play in the 4th Quarter No Matter What”

Darius Soriano —  March 21, 2016

It only took 69 games*, but Byron Scott has uttered words that fans have been hoping to hear all season. When it comes to the team’s young players — specifically D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, and Julius Randle — Scott says they will be given a longer leash, especially when it comes to 4th quarter playing time. The OC Register’s Bill Oram has the story:

After a light practice on Sunday, Coach Byron Scott said he plans to play the young stars in the final period of the 13 remaining games “no matter what.”

“That’s my goal,” Scott said, “is allow them to be out there and play through the mistakes and play through when they’re playing badly. They have to figure out how to come together as a group.”

As Oram later notes, this comes on the heels of Scott saying the Lakers’ young trio had “gotten enough experience” closing out games with Scott sitting all three of them for nearly, if not all, of the entire fourth quarter in two of the team’s last three games.

This brings up some questions about whether Scott’s decision was of his own accord or if it was triggered by something else — like, say, a conversation with Mitch Kupchak and/or Jim Buss. I would not doubt a conversation was had between Scott and the front office about goals for the young players in the final 13 games, though that’s just me speculating.

For what it’s worth, Mitch Kupchak is on the record as saying he does not interfere with Scott’s coaching decisions. From a conversation with Mike Trudell back in December:

Kupchak: I don’t tell Byron what to do. I don’t tell him who to play. We do talk often: at practice, in my office, in his office. We talk by phone; updates, what I see, what he sees, what he’s thinking; who we’re sending down to the D-League; when they are coming up; how they played. There’s a lot of dialogue that goes on between Byron and myself. We try to keep each other in the loop. We’re working to improve wins. But you do want to develop young players. By and large, our future is the young players we have. But I don’t tell Byron what to do. He plays the players he feels gives him the best chance to win. Obviously we’re playing our rookies right now, and he thinks they’ll give us the best chance to win. Julius and D’Angelo and Larry Nance have been starting. The three of those have been getting a lot of minutes, and they’re basically rookies.

Again, that was back in December, so maybe things have changed. It could also be that, if a conversation did take place, Mitch (or Jim) didn’t so much as order a change, but instead had a discussion about what everyone hoped to achieve in this last stretch while providing their hopes (which, I would imagine, is seeing the young players more). Or maybe Byron did come up with this all by himself. I’m not going to pretend to know either way, but with the on the record comments from both sides, taking everyone’s word for what it is seems reasonable enough.

In any event, what we do know is that, moving forward, the Lakers’ young players will get fourth quarter minutes “no matter what”. Though, to be fair, that’s actually happened more than what we would really like to acknowledge. Per Harrison Faigen of Silver Screen & Roll, the young players have actually seen plenty of minutes in the final frame:

Randle has actually played in more fourth quarters than anyone else on the team (57) and averaged 7.5 minutes per fourth quarter appearance. Russell right there with him, making 56 appearances for an average of 8.3 minutes, while Clarkson has played in 50 fourth quarters for an average of 7 minutes.

It’s worth noting not many of these 4th quarters have been competitive, but that’s a product of multiple factors throughout the course of these games.

It’s also worth noting that the recent games where the bench did well to bring the team back from large deficits, the young guys didn’t get back in which can be frustrating for fans. Especially when the opposite has been true in previous games (where Russell, specifically, had played well in the 4th quarter, a game was within striking distance, but he was then pulled so a combination of Lou/Clarkson/Kobe could close the game).

Maybe none of that will be an issue going forward. I doubt it means all frustration disappears — the young guys will make mistakes which, in the moment, is tough to swallow — but at least we know where things stand. I’m guessing there’s more than a few who wished this would have been the case earlier, but we will all just have to take what we can when we get it.


Darius Soriano

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to Lakers Young Players to “Play in the 4th Quarter No Matter What”

  1. TempleOfJamesWorthy March 21, 2016 at 11:25 am

    C’mon! We all know what’s going on here.

    After a stretch of games where the Young Guns played well and produced some unexpectedly competitive games (and even a couple of victories), the Lakers’ second-worst record position was in jeopardy, so suddenly guys like MWP, Ryan Kelly, and Robert Sacre were given significant minutes. Now the Lakers are past the part of the schedule where they might have accidentally won another game or two and won’t face another truly winnable game until April 8 (at New Orleans).

    So it’s safe to put the young core back out there to take their lumps. The Lakers are more fully tanking than the oil refineries in the San Pedro/Wilmington area.


  2. For Jim to have any hope of keeping his job beyond next April the Lakers must keep this years’ pick. No, getting the pick doesn’t get us to the Conference Finals next year but it creates so much positive momentum that Jim could persuade Jeanie to let him stay on.

    Absent the pick, the 2016/17 season will be about losing games to get the highest pick possible in the 2017 draft.


  3. – Scott sounds like the NBAs version of Norman Bates. He truly believes anyone pays attention or believes what he says.


  4. TempleOfJamesWorthy,

    “Now the Lakers are past the part of the schedule where they might have accidentally won another game or two and won’t face another truly winnable game until April 8 (at New Orleans).”

    I beg to differ. The Lakers next 4 games are the most dangerously winnable contests they’ve faced in a row all season!!!!! The Schedule in order is: A BeatUp and reeling Memphis Grizzlies tomorrow, then AT the terrible Suns (though we are on 2nd of a B2B and they just beat us at home), home against the Nuggets and then home against the spiraling Wizards.

    All of these teams are Lottery Bound except for the Grizz who are living off of the WIN EQUITY they had built up before they lost all their impact players to injury. They are now playing like a lottery team for the most part.

    As far as the TANK is concerned, we are certainly not out of the woods YET imo!!!!

    Man, just when I was getting a little bit used to Ryan Kelly’s Man Bun too……….

    SIDENOTE: You just KNOW that Kelly’s Father In Law Coach Cowher has gotta LOVE that Man Bun……the Thanksgiving Table conversation probably centers on it!!! : )


  5. I think its time for the Lakers to get the flu bug and have various players miss 2 to 3 games apiece down the stretch.


  6. It’s all just reshuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic at this point in Byron’s tenure. At least I hope that’s the case…


  7. If the stealth tanking theories are to be believed, the Lakers have been using this strategy for years, even when the team was contending. Only a stealth tanker would choose MDA over Phil, or get rid of your long time scouts to hire Chaz, or get rid of Alex McKechnie. It can’t be good old fashioned ineptitude…. it must stealth tanking.


  8. My head wants to burst at this point after every Scott pronouncement.


  9. LT Mitchell,
    Its not stealth tanking. Chaz makes great martinis. What do long time scouts know about great martinis???? Jim knows that any average guy in a bar can build an NBA team. So he aimed high and hired the GUY BEHIND THE BAR!!!! Only the Best for the Lakers as Dr. Buss spins in his grave.

    BTW Chaz is supposed to be a very nice guy too.


  10. Guys, its not stealth tanking or anything like that. Byron is just that bad.


  11. Byron’s utterances are simply maddening.

    As the author in the article mentioned below accurately summarizes… “Scott’s lack of offensive vision, his inability to breathe fire into the team’s defense and his frequent tone-deaf harpings on players have run their course”

    Touché and Vasheed hell yeah!

    And although likely this latest course reversal (one of many) was dictated by the FO it does beg the question why Coach Scott continues his usual obstinate ways even when he must surely know his job is very squarely on the line.

    Take a look at this:

    Given the current state of the Lakers I would prefer to see either Scott Brooks or Kevin Ollie. NOTE: Ollie is not mentioned in the 5 possible coaching replacements article.

    But this over long screening of the Byron Scott show must be cancelled the second this dreadful season ends.


  12. Die: Would love any of those guys except for Mark Jackson. I just don’t like the guy on a personal level.


    • Anon~ agreed. And for that matter I don’t think Thibs is a good match for a team that has major development needs. But if the option came down to Thibs or Byron? Well that’s easy. The one that doesn’t include Scott.

      As I write this I see a headline come over that says Laker’s are investigating charges that Nick Young & Jordan Clarkson sexually harassed 2 women. Oh brother. What next? Hopefully it is without merit but considering this season anything is possible.


  13. Die Tryin – Nice link.

    Walton, Thibs or Messina.
    I think Thibs would be the perfect guy to teach this team how to play defense. But will the Laker FO hire another serious-minded coach right after letting Byron go? Side note: I wonder if Joakim Noah is a Thibs fan.

    I was one of the few fans of Walton as a player. I thought his passing was very, very good. He’d be a popular choice, but I’d caution against high expectations with Luke. His interim head-coaching record is understandably inflated, having been handed the reins to a team that was already rolling. If the Lakers make him an offer, does he leave the best team team in the league – where he’s a shoe-in to replace Kerr if Kerr goes down with injury again?

    Messina may be good too but I wonder why he left the Lakers since he assisted here previously.

    Either of these candidates adds a sorely-needed fresh face to our franchise and would surely add credibility to our FA hunt. As I’ve stated before, I’m of the opinion that retaining Byron will adversely affect our ability to attract free agents to a staggering degree.

    At the very least, a coaching change is a step in the right direction that a potential free agent may view in a positive light, and should effectively buy the Buss family some more time.

    Conversely, losing out on Thibs and/or Walton if they are both hired elsewhere, or failing to make any change at all, would be like, tragic.


  14. Totally unrelated to anything on the topic at hand, but the Stickum incident is one more piece of evidence in my happiness that the Lakers didn’t keep Howard.

    Yes, I know the Lakers have been bad since he left, but again, I’d rather watch players I enjoy — even if they/the team struggle — than I would watch players I can’t stand, and Howard is near the top of my All-Time Can’t Stand roster. Let the people in Houston (or his next team) deal with his nonsense.


  15. Uh oh. Never something we want to see, particularly surrounding our players.

    Sports Illustrated is reporting Nick Young and Clarkson were accused of sexually harassing two women Sunday night.


  16. In other news, Lebron unfollowed the Cavs on Twitter and Instagram. Shocking!

    Also: check this out.


  17. Wall O’Worry March 21, 2016 at 6:49 pm

    Good to see the vets in the Laker locker room showing the kids the “ropes”:

    per ESPN’s Baxter Holmes:

    Regardless of what really went down, in reading the particulars, this is another head-scratching moment, at least for me. Seems we know bizarro in Laker land really, really well these days…


  18. Warriors vs. Spurs should be this year’s NBA finals. I’m picking the Spurs.


  19. I can’t tell if Byron is just trolling fans. I applaud him for being willing to try different approaches, but the changes make me wonder if there’s an underlying objective or if he’s just throwing stuff up to see what sticks. It just seems haphazard, without purpose and reflective of an overall lack of strategy on how to improve team play.


  20. Looks like some young Lakers are going to be scrutinized for activities off the court….

    No rush to judgement here; let’s see how it unfolds.


  21. Yes to Luke and Messina. No to Brooks, Jackson and Thibodou, or is it Thiboudo? Or Ti-bo-dough? Tibodey-au; Tibo-dega; Tibourgeois; Tibourgeoisie; The bourgeoisie; Capitalism; Keynes, FDR, Truman, Truman Show, Lake Show? Lakers. Lakers! Go Lakers!

    I prefer Messina to Luke. We need someone from the San Antonio organization badly. He also has more experience than Luke and studied under Pop. He is the dream candidate.

    If we get a top three pick and Messina or Luke, watch out! For sure we make the playoffs next season. 1st round exit, of course. But progress nonetheless!