Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton took a measured tone after the team's latest loss, a 101-89 defeat at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks. Walton said the team is going to be fine, and that it may just take a few years for them to be good again. It was a subtle challenge to his young charges while also being a public acknowledgement of the youth on their roster.
With the Lakers going an NBA-worst 2-14 in the month of Decmber while falling prey to second half collapses nearly every night, reserve big man Thomas Robinson doesn't want to hear about that youth anymore.
"We can't use the excuse of being a young team and be like 'okay, cool, we're [12-24] because we're young," Robinson told Tania Ganguli of the L.A. Times following the Lakers' latest defeat. "Forget that. We're getting leads on teams. 20-point leads. 10-point leads. That don't mean nothing. We gotta mature earlier. We gotta take over these games and finish them."
Robinson's strong words come on the heels of him surpassing fellow reserve forward/center Tarik Black in the rotation, and it's a positive for the team that he's not satisfied and wants to see more from the Lakers. The team needs voices like that in the locker room so they can continue to believe despite their struggles.
That being said, there aren't a ton of easy fixes for the Lakers' issues right now. This is a young team, and while they need to show more discipline at times (especially defensively), young teams are going to be prone to lapses in that area. It's less an excuse than an acknowledgement of reality in the NBA.
The Lakers themselves just can't use it as an excuse. The only way they'll get better is if they continue to fight to overcome the odds stacked against them, and Robinson's words make it clear the team isn't giving up just yet.
Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.