Frustration is boiling over for Kobe Bryant and Byron Scott after the Los Angeles Lakers’ miserable start, and a lack of effort on the defensive end has been the primary culprit.
That’s hardly the end of the floor where Nick Young has been known to excel, but the Lakers will take any help they can get.
Young may make his season debut as the Lakers begin a daunting three-game road trip Tuesday night against an Atlanta Hawks team that’s still perfect at home.
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Only Philadelphia allowed more points than Los Angeles (1-9) last season, and the Lakers have had far and away the league’s lowest-ranked defense (112.1 points per game) while getting off to the worst start in franchise history.
The Lakers’ woes went to another level in Sunday’s 136-115 loss to Golden State. Los Angeles gave up 115 points in the first three quarters, and that 36-point deficit after 36 minutes was enough to keep Bryant and his 44 points on the bench for the final period.
"Patience is running thin," said Scott, who admitted he’s on the verge of scrapping his entire defensive philosophy. "And it has nothing to do with execution. … You can only execute if you’re going through it hard, if you’re giving that energy and that effort every single time.
"I’m not worried about the offensive end, I’m really not. Don’t even care about it right now."
Two days after going 1 for 14 in a loss to the Spurs, Bryant took 34 shots in just 31 minutes – something no player has done since at least 1985-86. He’s attempted 244 field goals, 26 more than anyone in the league.
"I’m just trying to keep us in the game," said Bryant, who’s shooting 37.7 percent. "I’d rather not have to do that, but you can’t just sit back and watch crime happen right in front of you."
Bryant might not have to worry quite as much about keeping the Lakers’ offense afloat with Young on the verge of making his debut. Young, who tore a thumb ligament in early October, could play Tuesday after returning to full participation in practice. He averaged 17.9 points in just over 28 minutes a game last season.
Los Angeles, however, will be without Ryan Kelly for a while after he tore his right hamstring Sunday.
The Lakers’ road trip concludes with stops at Houston and Dallas – those teams are a combined 8-2 at home – but they’ll first visit Philips Arena, where the Hawks are 4-0.
Los Angeles isn’t the only team coming off a humiliating loss. Atlanta (5-4) gave up 41 first-quarter points in Saturday’s 127-94 defeat at Cleveland as the Cavaliers hit their first 11 3s and wound up 19 of 31 from long distance.
"Nobody likes losing and not in that fashion, in blowout fashion, so we’ve got to use it as motivation," guard Jeff Teague said. "It was just a rough game, but you’ve just got to throw this one away and bounce back."
That should be easier at home. Atlanta has shot 49.5 percent – 40.0 percent from 3-point range – and averaged 104.8 points on its own floor. Kyle Korver, who went scoreless in 14 minutes Saturday, has averaged 16.3 points and hit 16 of 24 3s at home.
Forward DeMarre Carroll, who would figure to draw the assignment of defending Bryant, is questionable after missing the last three games due to a groin injury.
The Lakers beat the Hawks in Los Angeles last season and lost in Atlanta, with the latter one of the six games Bryant played in 2013-14. He had eight points and five turnovers in 32 minutes.