Entering the season, several executives and coaches around the league told ESPN that Walton had perhaps the most challenging job in the National Basketball Association and wondered how he would make a roster of one-year veterans with strong personalities and a young developing core work best around LeBron James. Listen, coaching staff put us in a position to win and it's up to us to go out and execute.
"Luke can care less about what's going on outside". We could as well. I'm the last person to ask about scrutiny or anything of that nature. So if I'm talking, I'm going to explain myself no matter what the situation is. "All that matters is what goes on in this locker room both home and away".
Walton, meanwhile, reiterated that despite the fanfare surrounding the arrival of James, rebuilding the Lakers after years of mediocrity - they have not reached the playoffs since 2013 - would take time.
Following practice on Friday, Walton was asked about his standing with the Lakers and he was very confident about his status as the team's head coach.
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"It just shows that what we're doing is working", Walton said of beating the Blazers for the first time since March 3, 2014.
"They don't understand if you have a guy that's your second pick and you have the best player in the world, then don't take him out of the game, leave him in the game and rotate the three other guys around him - that's how you get victories if you want to win". They got out in transition, hit a few threes, got to the rim, got to the line. "To beat Portland, you can't just come in and win without playing really hard and really well".
"It actually never even gets to me really, so it's not a big deal for us", James continued.
The Lakers (4-5) will face the Raptors (8-1) with tip-off slated for 9:30 p.m. ET. Johnson cited James' slow starts when he first joined the Miami Heat and returned to Cleveland and said he told Walton not to worry if there was a rocky start in Los Angeles. "Unless you hold a team to 80 or 90 you'll always find things you have to get better at". While they can chalk up several of their close losses to randomness, there is no substitute for winning.