As he attempts to change the culture in Los Angeles with a handful of youngsters learning how to play in the NBA, Lakers first-year head coach Luke Walton has done some experimenting. He’s participated in 5-on-5 in practice with his players. He’s roughed them up in the post. And now he’s making sure his young players show proper appreciation for their teammates when they come off the floor.
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Early in the Lakers’ win over the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday night, point guard D’Angelo Russell rose up and splashed a 3, prompting Brooklyn to call a timeout. As Russell jogged back to the bench, he went to high-five the reserves when Walton called for his attention. Without saying a word, Walton pointed to Russell’s teammates who were trailing him off the floor. Russell turned around and made sure he high-fived each of them first.
“It didn’t feel like the way we’ve been playing, sharing the ball and having fun and making the extra pass.” Walton said of the game against the Nets. “So I was trying to manipulate in whatever way I could to get us back to playing a certain way.”
The Lakers won by seven, but Walton’s focus appears to be less on wins and losses and more on team unity and having fun, which has the Lakers riding high at 7-5.