The Los Angeles Lakers suffered yet another deflating loss in the absence of their star forward LeBron James, this time falling to the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers, 101-95, at Staples Center.
The Cavaliers had been mired in a 12-game losing streak prior to defeating Los Angeles. They’re just 9-35 on the season and currently own the NBA’s worst record. The Lakers again got off to another slow start, struggled from the free throw line and shot poorly overall.
“Just coming out, not hitting shots, for one,” Ball identified as reasons for the Lakers’ sluggish play in the first quarter. “For two, not getting the stops we need to get. People are scoring way too many points out there, like in the first quarter, and that’s going to put us in a hole early.”
As Ball points out, the Lakers again got off to a slow start and were outscored, 32-24, by the Cavaliers in the first quarter. They trailed by as many as 15 points. Falling behind early has been a reoccurring theme with James and veteran guard Rajon Rondo sidelined with respective injuries.
Ball can’t quite pinpoint why the Lakers have lacked energy without their vocal leaders on the court. “I can’t explain it,” he said. “I mean, we’re losing games, so I don’t know why the energy isn’t there. We can’t keep getting in holes like that.”
Ball believes the Lakers’ woes can be corrected with more aggression on defense. “With energy,” he added. “We can’t control making every shot but we can control getting stops. Just have to be on a string and get out to the shooters.”
Even in the midst of trying times, Ball and the rest of his Lakers teammates are staying optimistic. “We’re 3-7 (without LeBron James and Rajon Rondo), losing record,” he noted. “We want to turn it around as soon as possible.”
The first step to a potential turnaround may come in the form of a lineup change. Lakers head coach Luke Walton is considering such after Sunday’s loss to the Cavaliers.
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