Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton was thrown out in the opening quarter of the team’s 116-92 loss to the Sacramento Kings. He may have felt like the team quit for the first time this season when they rolled over to the Kings in the third quarter, but in his words and actions, he made it clear he’s not going to quit on his team.
“I felt like I needed to stand up for my guys,” Walton told Mark Medina of the Orange County Register of his decision to vociferously argue with the referees following a few non-calls where Julius Randle ended up on the floor courtesy of DeMarcus Cousins.
“What happened on the floor wasn’t right,” Walton continued. “My only concern is our guys in the locker room and my team. If I feel like something is not right, I’m going to stand up for my guys.”
His team loved it (via the O.C. Register):
“Luke was just looking out for us. They were calling some crazy (stuff),” Clarkson said. “So Coach has been trying to get a fair whistle. He was out there trying to fight for us.”
Randle appreciated it.
“Ahh, I love my coach, man,” Randle said. “That’s my guy. He backs me up with everything. He has all of our backs 100 percent.”
The Lakers have now lost seven straight games, and it would be all too easy for the team to start going their separate ways or begin to tune out the coaching staff given the lack of success they’re having.
The roster isn’t doing that, or at least they’re public comments suggest as much. The locker room doesn’t seem to be as dreary of a place as it was last season, either, when the specter of all of those losses seemed to hang over the place like a dark cloud.
The Lakers are still bought in, and their obvious love for their coach seems to be the main factor. It’s a major reason why this year’s situation doesn’t seem as hopeless as last year’s, even while the team struggles.
Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.