L.A. opened the season in Portland just over two weeks ago and has been on a roller-coaster ride ever since, starting 0-3, winning two in a row, then losing two in a row, prompting the Johnson-Walton session after seven games. The Lakers then had to survive a late-game scare from the Mavericks on Halloween as Dallas almost overcame a 19-point deficit. But any objective observer would have to conclude the team is getting better.
Walton was asked if he has expressed the challenges the Lakers coaching staff has faced with the new pieces, suspensions and constant search for chemistry with a shortened training camp and preseason.
If James ends up being similarly disgruntled with Walton, it's hard to see Johnson pushing back on the superstar's demands. Unsurprisingly, the Lakers have struggled to win games this season despite being competitive in all of them.
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As the team left Portland feeling good before they host the Toronto Raptors on Sunday at Staples Center, Walton said being scrutinized earlier in the week didn't necessarily make the victory more gratifying for him. "We know this is going to happen".
"It just shows that what we're doing is working", Walton said of beating the Blazers for the first time since March 3, 2014. "The numbers say we're 11th but it doesn't feel like it, but we are. It's our choice either to hang on to those, or it's our choice to stay present and focus our energy and time on what we can do to get better".
"LeBron closed them out over the final three minutes", Walton said of James.
"I like Tyson Chandler", Stotts said.
"The first and third quarters defensively we were pretty good and then we had two very bad quarters".