Walton says Lakers lack ‘trust’ with each other at crucial times

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error PHOENIX >> The message has been fairly simple.Lakers coach Luke Walton wants his team to follow three guidelines: Pass the ball to the open man, take high-percentage shots and play with effort on offense and defense.It has become difficult, though, for the Lakers to deliver on that message. The Lakers (19-45) enter Thursday’s game against the Phoenix Suns (21-43) at Talking Stick Resort Arena with an eight-game losing streak, primarily because they stray from those parameters when opponents go on double-digit runs.“Any team that is looking for a rhythm, seeing us on their schedule is a bulls-eye,” Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. said. “I personally hate it. We all should. That’s what we’re working toward erasing.” Before allowing those comments to suggest he dislikes his players’ work habits, Walton clarified.“Our guys are putting in the work,” Walton said. “They’re committed to the gym. They come in early and stay after. They’re on the right path.”Walton has praised second-year guard D’Angelo Russell of late for developing a more consistent and disciplined routine. Walton noted that Randle has worked closely with Lakers assistant coach Jesse Mermuys, including detailed film sessions during which Mermuys offers brutally honest feedback. Walton also credits rookie forward Brandon Ingram for continuing daily workouts with assistant coach Brian Keefe.Recently, though, none of that work has translated into strong play when adversity strikes.“We have to cut the water off,” Randle said. “We have to be the aggressors from the beginning. That’s not always the case.”Deadline loomingThe Lakers have a decision to make, as Thursday’s game against Phoenix marks the final appearance for guard David Nwaba before his 10-day contract expires on Friday.Regardless of how Thursday’s game plays out, it sounds as if Walton will advocate for Nwaba. Though Nwaba has averaged just 2.3 points and 1.3 rebounds in 10.8 minutes through four games, Walton listed plenty of positive attributes.“He’s done, in my opinion, everything he can to deserve another 10-day (contract),” Walton said. “I like his defensive intensity. I like his character as a person. I like his work ethic. Those are types of qualities we want around our locker room.”Injury updateAlthough the Lakers listed Nance (sprained right wrist) and center Ivica Zubac (right quad contusion) as probable for Thursday’s game, Walton expects them to play.Nance practiced, though Walton noted Nance’s wrist “is hurting him pretty bad” as he mostly shot with his left hand. Walton said Zubac “looked like a brand new player” after running during Wednesday’s practice. Zubac sat out Tuesday’s game against Dallas, though he was available.center_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersIf only it were that simple.“Trust is a big part of it,” Walton said. “It’s important to continue to trust each other on both ends of the floor when things get tough. It’s natural to try to get it back yourself, whether you come down and shoot a 3-point shot right away or try to stop somebody by yourself without keeping in mind the team concept.”Walton conceded the team’s collective inexperience and youthful roster plays a part. It takes time, Walton noted, to shed poor defensive habits so many players develop while competing in games growing up. It takes time to foster chemistry.Repetition helps.“You can speed it up by getting in the gym and working more,” Walton said. “It’s easier to trust and rely on each other when you’re in the gym putting in those extra hours with each other and you see your teammates doing it.”last_img

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