As Lakers-Celtics rivalry slips, Byron Scott wants changes
BOSTON – Everyone else wanted to talk about Kobe Bryant’s and Rajon Rondo’s breakfast.
Byron Scott wanted to talk about how much Magic Johnson and Larry Bird hated each other.
Many of the familiar faces of the great Lakers-Celtics rivalry were still on hand last night – Scott coaches Los Angeles, and Danny Ainge is Boston’s general manager – but, to Scott, the terms have changed.
“I’m still real old school,” Scott said. “I don’t have breakfast with Danny and all those guys.”
Scott sees this inter-team fraternization taking away from competitiveness.
“How can it not?” Scott said. “You do have to have, I think, a certain dislike for your opponent to go out there and try to kill him and beat him. If you’re friends with a guy, that’s hard to develop that on the court.
“That’s why you don’t have the type of rivalries like we had.”
Another reason this particular rivalry has fallen flat recently: The teams stink.
Scott plans to do something about his.
After the Los Angeles’ 113-96 loss to Boson last night, Scott – who said he has a distinct memory from every Lakers-Celtics game he has participated in – revealed how he’ll recall this one.
“Just sitting in there talking with my coaches, the memory will be of how many changes I make in our starting lineup,” Scott said.
Jeremy Lin, Kobe Bryant, Wesley Johnson, Carlos Boozer and Jordan Hill have played more minutes together than any lineup in the NBA. But they’ve been outscored by 15 points per 100 possessions, a net rating lower than the 76ers’. None of the other 30 most-used lineups have fared worse.
“It’s been time enough,” Scott said.
Scott declined to reveal whom he’d bench, but he said the starters will change when the Lakers host the Pelicans tomorrow. Lin and Boozer, who sat the entire fourth quarter against Boston, could be on the outs. So could Johnson, who shot 0-for-5.
“It really just kind of looked like we were disinterested in playing,” said Scott, who called the development “surprising and disappointing to say the least.”
Scott also spoke positively of Hill, and of course, Kobe – who said he’d support whatever lineup changes his coach made – is in no danger of losing his starting spot.
Nobody is questioning the competitiveness of Kobe (or Rondo, for that matter) despite them sharing a meal.
Rondo said he grew to appreciate Kobe when the Lakers star complimented him last season by calling him “an asshole, like me.” So, when in town, Kobe asked where to grab a bite, and they discussed the challenge of leading a strugglin teams.
“Just two assholes having breakfast,” Rondo said.
There was plenty to commiserate about.
With the Lakers 5-15 and Celtics 6-11, these teams are on pace for their worst combined record ever. Yes, even worse than last season, when the Lakers went 27-55 and the Celtics 25-57 as both teams missed playoffs in the same year for just the second time since both entered the league. (1993-94 was the other.)
So, a clearly irritated Scott is doing what he can to restore his team’s standing. After weeks of considering it, he’s holding his starters accountable for their lack of competitiveness.
During Scott’s postgame press conference, where he announced his plan to change his lineup, Ainge strolled by and offered a fist bump.
“Go to breakfast in the morning?” Ainge asked.
“When you come to L.A., Danny, we’ll go to breakfast,” Scott said.
The rivalry sure has changed.