As the Los Angeles Lakers look to remain afloat while LeBron James continues to recover from a strained groin, more has been expected of the team’s young core. Particularly Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, who have combined to handle more playmaking responsibilities.
They were each criticized by Lakers head coach Luke Walton following a deflating loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. It led to Ball and Ingram speaking with one another in effort to channel the energy and focus necessary to lead the team.
Behind all-around performances from the former No. 2 overall draft picks, the Lakers notched consecutive wins. They were in prime position to create some separation from the ninth-place Utah Jazz but fell to an undermanned team on Friday night.
The Jazz led by double-digits for much of their wire-to-wire victory, though the Lakers mounted a charge in the third quarter that was spearheaded by Ball. The 21-year-old discussed the focus he had during that stretch after some frustration early on, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“I had to sit out the whole second quarter, so I just wanted to bring as much energy as I could in the third. Try to get back in it. I think we cut it to 10, but we never really got over that hump.”
Ball picked up his third foul less than three minutes into the second quarter. Walton initially left his young point guard in the game but substituted for him two minutes later.
Ball played 10 minutes in the third quarter, scoring 5 points to go along with 6 rebounds and 2 assists. He was part of a small-ball lineup that cut into the deficit as it forced the Jazz to take Rudy Gobert off the floor for matchup purposes.
But as Ball noted, the Lakers failed to get any closer, went into the fourth quarter trailing by 15 points and only saw their deficit grow before it was clear they would not pull off a comeback win.
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