Julius Randle attempts a shot against the Charlotte Hornets on Jan. 5, 2018.
(Ty Nowell/Lakers.com)

Lakers' Defense Leads to Loss Versus Charlotte

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

For the majority of the season, defense has been the calling card of this Lakers club.

But, in the midst of a nine-game losing streak, that side of the ball has suddenly become its biggest problem, as seen in a 108-94 loss to Charlotte.

The Hornets (15-23) ran past L.A. early, scoring 63 points by halftime before tacking on 30 more in the third quarter.

“We let the fact that we missed shots early in the game impact our energy,” coach Luke Walton said. “It slowly felt like we started to lose that, and we got more concerned with the offensive end than the defensive end.”

Even with starting point guard Lonzo Ball back in the lineup after an 11-day injury absence, the Lakers (11-27) simply couldn’t hit shots to begin the game, which bled into their defense.

Ball put up 11 points, five assists, three 3-pointers and one turnover, but his team shot just 40.4 percent from the field and 9-of-36 on triples.

It was a rough night from the field for most of the roster, particularly Kyle Kuzma (2-of-14), Jordan Clarkson (3-of-10) and Josh Hart (1-of-6).

But the biggest issue was defensively, where the Hornets ran wild for three quarters behind Kemba Walker (19 points, four steals), Marvin Williams (16 points) and Dwight Howard (15 points, 10 rebounds).

Lack of communication stung the Lakers on that side, as did waning effort.

Walton said that he pulled Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (zero points in 20 minutes) early on because of an uncharacteristically poor attention to defense.

“That’s how we’re going to win games,” Ball said. “We’re not going to shoot well every night, but you can always play good defense.”

It was a night when only Brandon Ingram (22 points, career-high 14 rebounds, four assists) had much going offensively.

Charlotte even held the Lakers’ high-paced offense to nine fast-break points.

But the focus moving forward is all on one side of the ball.

“We’re going to get back to being a good defensive team no matter what it takes,” Walton said.

Julius Randle had a 15-point, 10-rebound double-double. … Ball threw down a highlight slam after a crossover on Walker. … A sold-out crowd, including Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez, filled Staples Center.

@zo with a monster one-handed slam

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