Josh Hart, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram
(L-R) Josh Hart, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram watch from the bench during the Lakers' preseason game against Golden State on Oct. 12, 2018.
(Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images)

Walton Mulls Starting Lineup Change

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

On the heels of his team’s loss to the NBA’s last-place team, coach Luke Walton is considering making a change to his opening five.

The Lakers trailed by as many as 15 points in the first quarter of Sunday’s defeat against Cleveland, which hasn’t exactly been a new trend.

L.A. has gone just 3-7 without LeBron James (strained groin), and have been outscored by 5.3 points per first quarter — the NBA’s third-worst mark during that stretch.

“We might have to do something to the starting lineup right now,” Walton said on Sunday. “Every game it feels like we’re giving up 30-plus points in that first quarter, so we’ll take a closer look a that.”

Walton said he would decide by Tuesday’s shootaround whether he’d continue with the current starting five of Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and JaVale McGee.

In seven games together that lineup has struggled, as it has been outscored by 39 points in 83 minutes.

“We’re getting out to slow starts,” Ball said at Monday’s practice. “Getting down early and using a lot of energy to get back into the game, and coming up short in the fourth.”

Better starts are a clear focus for the Lakers, who watched the entire first quarter together of the Cleveland loss at Monday’s practice.

The current starting lineup has struggled on both ends of the floor. Their defensive rating (112.4) is far from ideal, while their offensive rating (90.4) is a major red flag.

“Just lackadaisical play,” Ball said. “Sloppy turnovers, not boxing out guys, giving up open 3s. Just letting people get comfortable. Especially on our home court, we can’t do that.”

They will have another chance to protect home court on Tuesday, as they host the Chicago Bulls, who are on a seven-game losing streak.

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