Here’s what it has come to for the Lakers and their turnover problems: They are now doing drills so basic it reminds some players of their high school practices.
And still they can’t solve it.
“If I had the magic wand that’d be the one thing I would fix that would give us the best chance of getting a win,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said.
The Lakers committed 21 turnovers Sunday against the Houston Rockets after committing 21 Saturday against the Denver Nuggets. They have averaged 17.5 turnovers per game according to NBA.com, the most in the NBA. During their five-game losing streak, the Lakers have averaged 18.4 turnovers.
The high school-reminiscent drills preceded extra running as punishment for turnovers. On Tuesday that meant the units that committed the most turnovers in the Lakers’ scrimmage had to run suicide sprints for every turnover they committed.
“We only had one turnover, so we only ran one,” Lonzo Ball said of his group in the scrimmage.
Some turnovers irk Walton more than others. There are some he knows come with the style of play the Lakers encourage
“The careless ones, those are the ones we need to fix,” Walton said. “The ones where they’re trying to do the right thing and they’re trying to push the pace and make the extra pass to teammates, those are ones for now we’re still willing to live with. But it’s the careless ones, the ‘catch on top of the floor and take three steps before you dribble the ball’ turnovers that we’ve got to try to get rid of. Turnovers in transition that we have to get rid of.”
Said rookie Kyle Kuzma: “Sometimes we force a lot and also sometimes we try to make the right play and we just turn it over.”
Ball practiced Tuesday after the Lakers took Monday off, and his calves are feeling better.
“They’re getting there,” Ball said. “Still a little tight but we are still working on them.”
Ball’s left calf was tight before the Lakers played the uggets on Saturday. He played with a sleeve on his lower left leg. Then, during the course of the game, Ball’s right calf grew tight. He walked with a limp after the game, but that didn’t keep him from playing Sunday against the Rockets.
Although Ball wouldn’t attribute his poor shooting performance to the tightness — he missed all four of his shots including three from three-point range — he said his legs felt like there were rocks in them during Sunday’s game. Walton said Ball didn’t have the same bounce in his step he normally has.
“I don’t think it had too much to do with it,” Ball said. “Just went out there and had a bad game. Shake it off and come back next time.”
Back on the road
The Lakers are about to embark on their second multi-game trip of the season, not including a road game against the Clippers. This one will take them to Philadelphia, Charlotte, New York and Cleveland.
“I like road trips; this is a big one,” Kuzma said. “Hopefully we can pick up a couple of wins against some really good teams and get back to winning. … It’s tough to win on the road, you know ... at the end of the day it’s just tough to win on the road. We’ve just got to come out and be ready and just be locked in from the jump.”
Walton has warned his team about the difficulties ahead. Kuzma will take the lessons from the Lakers’ last trip into this one.
“It will be a little easier,” he said. “You know to expect on the road, to get your recovery in, and just the pace of what road trips are.”
Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli