Byron Scott gives a great big 'nah' to handing rookie D'Angelo Russell big minutes

Ball Don't Lie
The cheese stands alone. (Getty Images)
The cheese stands alone. (Getty Images)

During Byron Scott’s last NBA season, all the way back in the Truman Administration 1996-97, the NBA had a rule that each of its seven 29 teams had to appear on national TV at least one time per year. This is back when the only options included TBS, TNT, and NBC, so it actually was a bit of a treat to take in the single time per season you could see Shareef Abdur-Rahim or Mitch Richmond, or some winsome rookie you hadn’t heard much of since last June’s draft.

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Times have changed, you don’t need to go out searching for Antonio Daniels updates prior to his lone national TV appearance, and even a lowly squad like the Los Angeles Lakers has a whopping eighteen nationally televised games (not counting NBA TV) this season. Still, Tuesday night was a healthy chunk of America’s best chance to see rookie guard D’Angelo Russell suit up for the Lakers in Los Angeles’ pairing with the red-hot Warriors, and considering that Russell’s team was down by 19 points in Golden State’s eventual win, there were plenty of practice minutes to dole out.

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So, with a 19-year old to develop, and much needed playing time on the ready, did Lakers coach Byron Scott squeeze every drop out of his rookie during sweet, sweet, Garbage Time?

Nah.

No fourth quarter minutes. Because Marcelo Huertas. Who is 32 years old.

Wouldn’t it be a good idea to try and play the rookie as much as possible, coach Scott, even against the defending champions’ reserves?

“Nah. There’s really no reason to. At that particular time we’re down 30 [points],” Scott said. “I wanted to get Ryan [Kelly] some time and Marcelo [Huertas] as well and some other guys that haven’t played a lot.”

Via Mark Medina at the Los Angeles Daily News. Here’s more:

Isn’t there value in Russell having game experience even in blowout losses?

“Nah,” Scott said.

So, 19-year old Rookie That Will Be Hitting His Prime When Kobe Bryant is Approaching Fifty, don’t you think playing in the fourth quarter would help your learning curve?

“That would be great,” Russell told Los Angeles News Group. “You’re only a rookie once. You get reps now and mess up now. So then next year when you’re not a rookie, you don’t have to worry about making rookie mistakes.”

Scott’s response?

“I’m not going to accept some of the mistakes we’re making, especially the ones that he makes over and over again. That’s up to him.”

Bloody hell, this guy.

Scott, as you’d know or probably just guess, has been through this before with Russell. The Lakers coach famously moved Kobe Bryant to small forward to begin the season to accommodate both Russell and second-year guard Jordan Clarkson, and yet in a game that was just about over by the time Draymond Green hit a three-pointer in the opening possession of the fourth quarter, Russell saw just 25 minutes of action.

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He managed eight points on 4-8 shooting, four rebounds, two assists, two steals and a turnover in that time. He hasn’t had a great rookie year, but for a 19-year old that has to play alongside Kobe Bryant, 10 points on 40 percent shooting alongside 4.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists (with Clarkson and, um, Kobe, there, Russell mainly plays off the ball) in 26 minutes a game isn’t all that bad.

Russell, as you guessed, was outstripped by a minute by Kobe in the Laker blowout loss. Bryant missed 13 of 14 shots against Golden State, referred to both his shot selection and the Laker offense by a dirty word, and came through with the sort of math the Los Angeles Laker franchise has been famous for since passing over Phil Jackson in 2012:

“I could've scored 80 tonight. It wouldn't have made a damn difference.”

Kobe scored four points in the loss. Had he added 76 points to that total, all things remaining the same, the Lakers would have won by 42.

Then again:

Bryant is now hitting for 31 percent on the season, but because his NBA debut came when D’Angelo Russell was nine months old, he’s allowed to shoot 16 times a game (Bryant, by the way, shot 41 percent to Russell’s 40 percent at the same age). Kobe is fifth in the NBA in three-pointers attempted per game and he makes one-fifth of his three-pointers. Byron Scott plays him five times the minutes he should and affords him five times the shots he should be given.

But:

And rookie D’Angelo Russell played 25 minutes in a nationally televised loss on Tuesday, because Byron Scott wanted to get Marcelo Huertas some much needed minutes in the face of Turner Sports’ klieg light glare.

Where have you gone, Antonio Daniels? And can you coach?

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Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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