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Friday, January 17, 2014
Lakers 'fine' after team meeting

By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com

BOSTON -- The Los Angeles Lakers held a team meeting Friday to address Nick Young's ejection in a 121-114 loss to the Phoenix Suns as well as postgame comments by Young and other players that painted a picture of a divided group.

"They're fine," coach Mike D'Antoni said after shootaround in preparation for the team's game against the Boston Celtics. "We talked about it. It's just, we need to be more aggressive. Not, per se, in fighting, but being more aggressive in playing. It really just kind of showed that we don't have enough fight in the dog right now."

Young, who received a one-game suspension for throwing a punch at Phoenix's Goran Dragic while retaliating to a hard foul from Suns rookie center Alex Len, said after the Suns game Wednesday that he was upset with his teammates for making him feel like it was "1-on-5" and not coming to his side when he was confronted by several Phoenix players.

"I think we all know what to do now in situations like that," Young said. "Once we talked, we aired it out and we're all good."

Young said the Lakers resolved to "get in there" in the future if a teammate is in a shoving match with opponents.

"You don't have to fight, you just got to step in between," Young said. "Nobody really wants to fight. Nobody wants to get beat up on national TV."

Point guard Kendall Marshall was critical of Young for putting the undermanned Lakers in jeopardy by being ejected, saying that "I don't know if that was the smartest play." He added that "Nick kind of saw what he wanted to see" when responding to Young's claim that none of his teammates stepped in. Marshall changed his tune Friday.

"I take full blame, being that I was on the court and being that I'm a point guard, I should have been the first one to run over there and pull him out of whatever was going on regardless of what I thought was happening," Marshall said. "He had every right to get upset. It's our job as teammates to be there for each other. I went up to him, I squashed it. I told him it will never happen again. So, we're good now."

Marshall said he was aware of the Internet image that went viral that shows him standing near the 3-point line with his hands on his hips as Young is involved in the Phoenix fracas with the caption: "Don't worry Nick, Kendall got your back."

"I thought it was hilarious," Marshall said. "You look at it and it does look really bad."

Young, who will lose $10,063 in salary for his one-game ban, thought the suspension was fair. Len was fined $15,000, and Suns player Marcus Morris was fined $25,000 for his involvement.

"I knew I was going to get at least one game," Young said. "I'm happy it wasn't more than that. My pockets couldn't stand too many games."

The Lakers' depleted backcourt likely couldn't stand too many games without the team's leading scorer in Young, either.

The team signed guard Manny Harris to a 10-day contract Thursday, hoping the reigning D-League player of the week could help fill the void with Young unavailable for the Celtics game.

"Other people have to step up," D'Antoni said. "Manny Harris is in, so he'll play some minutes. We'll throw him right into the fire."

Harris had seven points in 22 minutes in the Lakers' 107-104 win over the Celtics. He had averaged 43 points on 60 percent shooting in his previous three games for the L.A. D-Fenders.

"It was just confidence, everything clicking in my game, and I was just basically doing anything for the team to win and it just happened that I got it going," Harris said of his D-League performance.

D-Fenders coach Bob McKinnon runs an identical offensive system as the Lakers, according to D'Antoni, and the two coaches are in contact daily.

"It's mostly the same," Harris said after going through his first on-court session with the Lakers at Friday's shootaround. "It's little different vocabulary, a little tiny bit, but it's mostly the same."

The Lakers (now 15-25), who went into the Celtics game having lost six in a row and 12 of their previous 13, also used Friday's meeting to try to put a stop to what's plaguing them on the court.

"We all know that we just got to get a little more gritty out there, get a little more tougher on everything we do," Young said. "Not just getting in brawls. I'm talking about fast-break [defense], rebounding, second-chance buckets. We got to box people out and just get more gritty."