While more has been expected from the Los Angeles Lakers as a whole since LeBron James and Rajon Rondo have been out, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram have faced intense scrutiny. It even came in the form of criticism from head coach Luke Walton after a loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The young Lakers responded with all-around performances against the Dallas Mavericks and Detroit Pistons, which coincided with back-to-back wins. Kyle Kuzma aided their efforts in the second victory by torching his hometown team for a career-high 41 points.
But more uneven play from Ball and Ingram followed, and the Lakers suffered losses to the Utah Jazz and Cleveland Cavaliers. They again bounced back Tuesday night, each flirting with a triple-double in a 107-100 win over the Chicago Bulls.
Ball scored 11 straight points in the third quarter and was a driving force for much of the night. “It was kind of like I had to. I knew it was a must-win today. I knew I had to pick up whatever I could,” he said. “Last game, I didn’t get it done for us, so this time, I tried to.”
Ingram agreed with Ball’s sentiment of it being a ‘must-win’ game for the Lakers, and he pointed to their play in the second half as proof. “I think we just had to be more connected, come together,” Ingram said.
“With us swinging the ball around and getting the best shot for our guys and the best shot for our team and guys having the confidence and knocking shots down, I think it felt really good to the guys.”
The Lakers are now 4-7 without James as they enter a treacherous stretch in their schedule. While James is due to be re-evaluated Wednesday, the expectation is he will not travel with the Lakers for games against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets.
They then return to Staples Center for a matchup with the Golden State Warriors on Monday.
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