Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott has finally promised to give his younger players more playing time in the fourth quarter and will allow them to close out games in the final stretch of the season.
Scott has frustrated Lakers fans this campaign for his handling of the team's youngsters such as Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and most notably rookie D'Angelo Russell. With Kobe Bryant retiring at the end of the season, fans are eager to see their future stars get as many minutes as possible, especially in late game situations, but Scott has had other ideas.
For the second time in three games, Russell, Randle and Clarkson were all benched for the fourth quarter in their loss to the Phoenix Suns on Friday night.
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According to Bill Oram of the Orange County Register, Scott has changed his tune and will no longer bench his young players due to bad play and will play them in the fourth quarter "no matter what". That will begin with the visit of the Memphis Grizzlies to the Staples Center on Tuesday.
The Lakers have 13 games remaining and this new approach by Scott could well have an effect on his personal future with the team. With nothing to play for in the remaining games, it seems logical for the Lakers to continue to develop their young core and build for next season and this move by the head coach could be his way of proving to the front office that he's the man to lead them.
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“My goal is to allow them to be out there and play through the mistakes and play through when they’re playing badly," said Scott after a practice session on Sunday, via the Orange County Register.
"They have to figure out how to come together as a group."
Scott, however, doesn't have any regrets about not playing Russell, Randle and Clarkson and wanted them to sit and watch the team's veteran second unit and hopes that experience will stand them in good stead.
"I don't regret that. But this is the time to leave you out there," Scott said. "I've sat you for two or three of those games so you can watch how the second unit plays. We showed it on tape and will show it again. Hopefully, that visual of watching and sitting there will resonate a little bit more."
Scott also added that he still expects mistakes to be made but is willing to let them play through it as errors will no longer result in reduced minutes.
“They absolutely have the responsibility to go out there, play hard and try to execute everything on the offensive and defensive end,” he said. “My responsibility to them is to put them in situations for where they have to go through learning how to play with each other and play together.”