The Los Angeles Lakers received a royal beatdown from the defending champion Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night, losing 111-77 in a game that did not even feel that close as Golden State extended their season opening win streak to an NBA record 16 games. Lakers rookie point guard D'Angelo Russell played 26 minutes in the loss, second most among Lakers starters, but did not play at all in the fourth quarter.
The reason for Russell not seeing the court in the fourth quarter? According to Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News, Scott told reporters after the loss that "there's really no reason" for Russell to play in the fourth quarter in a game where the lead was 89-55 entering the final frame. When asked if there was any value in Russell getting fourth quarter reps even in a blowout, Scott's response was "nah."
Russell himself disagreed with that assessment after the game:
D'Angelo told me he thought guys who played in 4th Q deserved the minutes. But Russell admitted that any reps will help his development— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) November 25, 2015
The game was indeed far out of reach for the Lakers, but it's hard not to think that Russell would still benefit from live game minutes against real NBA players, something that is hard for a team to simulate in practice during the season because of rest concerns. Scott had previously cited too big of a lead by the other team as a reason for not playing Russell in the fourth quarter earlier this season against the Miami Heat, so he has remained consistent on that. In recent games Scott has also played Russell down the stretch, so the rookie is beginning to see the late minutes he should be getting.
Could Russell have played more in the fourth quarter? Sure. Is it understandable that Scott did not reinsert him? Yes. Both men have points, but the bigger problem is that they are not on the same page on such an important issue.