LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — After the Lakers dropped their eighth consecutive game Tuesday night in a loss to the Mavericks, head coach Luke Walton leveled a criticism sure to catch the attention of his players.
In postgame comments, Walton said opposing teams view the Lakers as a “soft” opponent, and that opponents view a matchup against the Lakers as an opportunity to pad their offensive stats.
The Lakers rank next-to-last in NBA.com’s defensive rankings.
“Teams feel like when they play us right now, we’re kind of a soft team that they can come in to get their offensive numbers against,” Walton said, according to ESPN. “That’s got to be up to us to change that.”
The last time a Lakers coach called the team soft was in 2015, when Byron Scott repeatedly used the word after a loss to the Clippers.
Power forward Julius Randle disputed Walton’s characterization.
“It pisses me off, ’cause we’re not soft,” Randle reportedly said. “But, we’re not the aggressor. When we’re the aggressive team, we give ourselves a chance to win and the soft stuff is out the window.”
The Lakers are currently last in the Western Conference, with a 19-45 record on the season.
Still, there is a silver lining: the Lakers’ odds of landing a top-3 draft pick this year increases with each loss.
If the Lakers’ pick falls outside of the top three, it goes to the 76ers, per the terms of a 2015 multi-team deal that brought Steve Nash to Los Angeles.