Brandon Ingram jockeys for a loose ball against the Sacramento Kings on Oct. 8, 2017.
(Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Cutting Down on Turnovers Key for Lakers

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

During the Lakers’ five-game losing streak, their glaring issue has been an inability to protect the ball.

Throughout this slide, they have committed at least 16 giveaways in each contest, prompting coach Luke Walton to implement ball-control drills in practice that players have joked are from back in high school.

He elaborated after Tuesday’s practice that players had to run suicides for each turnover they committed in order to hammer the importance of maintaining possession.

With an upcoming four-game Eastern Conference road trip approaching, Walton hopes the added emphasis will help the Lakers water down their league-high 17.5 turnovers per game.

“Limiting our turnovers will give us the best chance as far as just one thing to change,” Walton said. “It’s tough, especially when you go on the road, to turn the ball over the way we’ve been doing it.

“If I had a magic wand, that would be the one thing I’d fix.”

Oddly, the Lakers have zero players among the NBA’s 25 most-frequent turnover-committers.

Instead, it has been a case of many players contributing to the total, with four Lakers — Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle and Kyle Kuzma — averaging between two and three giveaways.

Ball and Ingram have seen an uptick in their turnovers recently, which makes sense considering the ball has been in their hands more often.

Ingram has been given more freedom to attack with his dribble lately, averaging 19.1 points in his last nine games. Ball’s ability to push the pace has been central to the team’s identity, with the Lakers averaging the second-most fast-break points (15.3).

His production has also far out-weighed his turnovers, as he is seventh in the NBA in assists (7.0) and allows the second-fewest takeaways (2.7) of anyone in the top 10.

But while Ball and the Lakers often thrive on fast-breaks, defenses have also shown capable of hunting his outlet passes.

The Lakers commit a turnover on 18.1 percent of transition possessions — second-highest in the league. Ball’s 27.9 percent turnover rate is highest among individual players.

But as long as the players are making smart plays and not committing careless turnovers, Walton is OK with mistakes here and there.

“The ones where they’re trying to do the right thing, push the pace and make the extra pass for their teammates — those are the ones, for now, we’re still willing to live with,” Walton said.

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