Despite incredible efforts from Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball, the Los Angeles Lakers were unable to defeat the Sacramento Kings and lost, 117-116, on a buzzer-beater by Bogdan Bogdanovic over Tyson Chandler’s outstretched arm.
The Lakers were up by 15 points with just over six minutes remaining in the game, but mental mistakes plagued them. It’s easy to cite the fact that their two leaders, LeBron James and Rajon Rondo, were sidelined with injuries, causing the Lakers to lose focus once they pulled comfortably ahead.
However, Kuzma knows that there’s no use in talking about James and Rondo, and instead focused on the mistakes that allowed the Kings to get back in the game. Overall, Kuzma says a loss of composure is what did it, which he put on his shoulders, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“We were a little out of composed. I’ll take [blame] for that. Fouling a three-point shooter, we probably never would’ve been in that situation if I didn’t do that. But it’s a learning lesson. We’ve got to do a better job closing out games and just being composed.”
Kuzma’s foul on a Justin Jackson 3-pointer allowed the Kings to tie the game at 112 with under a minute left. Meanwhile, Brandon Ingram had two turnovers in the fourth quarter as well as missing a free throw that would’ve put the Lakers up by three with 4.5 seconds left.
Instead, they were only up two, allowing Bogdanovich’s 3-pointer to be for the win. Since Rondo will now be out at least one month after having surgery, and it’s unclear when James will return from his groin strain, it will be up to Ingram, Kuzma and Ball to keep the Lakers in games and be leaders.
Thursday night was just one game, but the loss dropped the Lakers from fourth to fifth place in the Western Conference standings. And only one game separates the Lakers from the ninth-place San Antonio Spurs.
In the crowded West, every night matters, and the Lakers will need to string together some wins with James out if they want to be in the playoffs in April.
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