An 0-4 start to the season is beginning to take its toll on the Los Angeles Lakers.
Coach Byron Scott revealed Wednesday that there was “a little bit of a verbal altercation" Tuesday evening toward the end of the team's 120-109 loss to the Denver Nuggets, per Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.
“That’s good,” Scott said. "They tell me that they care. I want to see more fight in our guys. We want to try to stop the bleeding as soon as possible.”
He also added, “A few guys discussed [the loss] in a very angry way. If they just sat on the bench with a smile on their face, I would’ve been much more concerned. I loved it. It tells me that guys care. If they were smiling or laughing, I would’ve been pissed.”
While Scott didn't name any players involved in the altercation, he did say that Kobe Bryant was not involved, while Julius Randle said he was in the game at the time of the incident.
Arguments between teammates are standard fare in professional sports and generally aren't a negative development in a competitive environment, where the stakes are so high. It is perhaps somewhat concerning, however, that the team's frustrations have mounted to the point that an argument broke out during a game this early in the season.
The Lakers were never likely to compete for a playoff spot this season, though their poor play has been incredibly discouraging. The team is giving up a league-worst 116.8 points per game and has lost winnable contests against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Sacramento Kings and the Nuggets. Kobe Bryant has struggled, shooting just 32.3 percent from the field, while first-round pick D'Angelo Russell was benched for much of the second half against the Nuggets.
Former Lakers star Magic Johnson probably summed up the state of the team best:
The Lakers have winnable upcoming games against the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks on the road before traveling to face the dangerous Miami Heat. They'll conclude their road trip against the Orlando Magic and Dallas Mavericks. If the Lakers return home to face the Detroit Pistons on Nov. 15 with an 0-9 record, well, it's safe to assume the reception they'll receiver from their home fans won't be friendly.
So yes, the pressure is already mounting for the Lakers to turn things around—and quickly. Clearly, the team is feeling it.