Lak­ers fall to NBA’s worst

James can only watch as his for­mer team ends 12-game los­ing streak on L.A.’s floor.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - Brod­er­ick Turner


The high level of frus­tra­tion the Lak­ers had been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing didn’t stop them from los­ing to a Cleve­land Cava­liers team that en­tered Sun­day night’s game at Sta­ples Cen­ter with the worst record in the NBA at 8-35.

The game they stressed was “very im­por­tant” didn’t stop them from los­ing to a team that had lost 12 con­sec­u­tive games.

They were warned by Lak­ers coach Luke Wal­ton on Satur­day and by as­so­ci­ate head coach Brian Shaw on Sun­day about the dan­gers of over­look­ing a team that had been strug­gling might­ily all sea­son.

But all the Lak­ers did was in­crease their lev­els of frus­tra­tion after an em­bar­rass­ing 101-95 de­feat.

Their ef­fort drew boos at times from the crowd of 18,997.

When it was over, Wal­ton talked about per­haps chang­ing his start­ing lineup in or­der to get a bet­ter jump start in games.

The Lak­ers are 3-7 since LeBron James went down with a strained left groin. Ra­jon Rondo joined him on the in­jured list after hav­ing

surgery on his right ring fin­ger.

Asked about the level of frus­tra­tion with his group, Wal­ton couldn’t pro­vide a num­ber.

“Hope­fully it’s pretty high,” Wal­ton said.

“It’s a game we knew was very im­por­tant to us. It should be . ... I can’t give you a num­ber, but it should be pretty high.

“Hope­fully it’s an anger that stays with us for at least the next few days.”

Even so, James won’t be back when the Lak­ers play Tues­day night against the Chicago Bulls, who are tied for the sec­ond-worst record in the NBA with the New York Knicks (10-33) and have lost seven con­sec­u­tive games.

James is due to be reeval­u­ated Wed­nes­day.

The Lak­ers’ sched­ule gets tougher after the Bulls game, with matchups against Ok­la­homa City and Hous­ton.

“As a team, we need to be more en­gaged in the sense of have an ef­fort,” said Kyle Kuzma, who had 29 points on 11-for-23 shoot­ing from the field, in­clud­ing two of seven from three-point range. “And that starts with me. I played like crap to­day.

“Not bring­ing that en­ergy. That’s what we need to do as a team in or­der to com­pete and play in all these games. No mat­ter a team comes in here with one of the worst records, no dis­re­spect to the Cavs, but they still are an NBA team. But for us we can’t take noth­ing lightly, es­pe­cially in this league, ’cause we’re all pro­fes­sion­als. You can lose on any given night. Not bring­ing the ef­fort . ... That’s what hap­pened tonight.”

The Lak­ers fell be­hind by 15 points in the first quar­ter but man­aged to pull within one point in the third. But the Cava­liers still man­aged to have a 10-point lead en­ter­ing the fourth quar­ter.

“It’s hard for us to come in here and say the losses don’t mat­ter, be­cause they do,” said Bran­don In­gram, who had 22 points. “We come in here ev­ery sin­gle day and just try to stick to the game plan, try to stay con­fi­dent in what we do, try to stay con­nected and I think we just have to go back and look at film.

“We have to all just have a talk and just think about what we do just ev­ery time we go out on the bas­ket­ball floor that’s go­ing to help our games out.”

The Lak­ers had lost to a Knicks team that was on an eight-game los­ing streak when it came here more than a week ago.

It ap­pears as if the Lak­ers didn’t learn a les­son from that at all.

After they gave up 32 points in the first quar­ter, Wal­ton was think­ing about mak­ing some changes.

“We might have to do some­thing to the start­ing lineup right now,” he said.

“Ev­ery game feels like we’re giv­ing up 30 pointsplus in the first quar­ter, so we’ll take a closer look at that. …We’ll take a look and pos­si­bly make a change be­fore Tues­day.”

Wally Skalij Los An­ge­les Times

LONZO BALL of the Lak­ers tries to get rid of the ball amid de­fen­sive pres­sure by Cava­liers de­fend­ers Sun­day night. Ball fin­ished with 13 points and eight as­sists.

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