Defense the key for Lakers rebuild, says new coach Scott

Tue Jul 29, 2014 5:23pm EDT
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - With three Los Angeles Lakers greats looking on, newly appointed head coach Byron Scott pledged Tuesday to make defense his top priority as he bids to revive the flagging fortunes of one of the NBA's most storied franchises.

Scott, a three-time NBA champion with the Lakers during their triumphant 'Showtime' era in the 1980s, also said he would look to the past as he strives to develop a "winning" mindset for a team that ended last season with a dismal 27-55 record.

"I am going to do everything in my power ... everything I can to bring this team back to where we know it should it be," Scott, 53, told reporters after being formally introduced as coach at the Lakers' training facility in El Segundo.

"This organization is all about championships, period. We don't look at Western Conference Finals, Western Conference championships. We look at (NBA) championships.

"We know we have some work ahead of us but I am excited, just thrilled to death, I am eager and just ready to get to work. I know it's going to be a challenge but I look forward to it."

Scott, who coached the New Jersey Nets to consecutive NBA Finals appearances in 2002 and 2003, fills the gap left by Mike D'Antoni, who ended an unhappy two-season tenure with the Lakers when he resigned as head coach in late April.

Well aware that he faces a daunting task in trying to restore the 16-time NBA champions to the giddy heights their players and fans once took for granted, Scott spelled out his initial agenda.

"The main thing I have to do right away is establish ourselves as a defensive basketball team," said Scott, who was introduced by the team's general manager Mitch Kupchak after former Lakers greats Earvin 'Magic' Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jamaal Wilkes had all paid him lavish tribute.

"The first thing that Magic taught me when I got into this league is that we win championships by defending every single night. That's the one thing that we can control. Offenses are going to come and go.   Continued...

Jul 29, 2014; El Segundo, CA, USA; Byron Scott (left) is embraced by Magic Johnson at a press conference to introduce Scott as Los Angeles Lakers coach at Toyota Sports Center. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports