Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram sidelined as Lakers lose to Kings
No excuses emerged from the Lakers’ locker room Sunday night after they fell to the bottom-dwelling Sacramento Kings.
“If you have a chance to take a game then you have to go take it, and I thought we had a couple chances tonight to go do that and we did not take advantage of it,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “So here we are and everyone’s mad and upset as they should be. But that’s on us for not playing well enough tonight.”
The Lakers, once again short-handed, lost 84-83. The Kings, who improved to 25-53 with the win, capitalized on two Lakers turnovers in the final seconds to pull away.
With 1:08 left in the game, Julius Randle — who had 12 free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter alone — made one of two from the line, tying the score at 80, but a transition dunk by Buddy Hield off a turnover gave the Kings a two-point lead.
Another Lakers turnover led to another basket with 32.6 seconds left, giving the Kings an 84-80 lead.
“They were the aggressor,” center Brook Lopez said.
“We gave them a chance for longer than we should have. Obviously they were a good enough team that’s gonna go either way down the stretch.”
The Lakers fell to 33-43. Randle and Hield led all scorers with 19 points each. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 16 points and Ivica Zubac grabbed 10 rebounds to go with his seven points.
Sunday’s game was the Lakers’ last chance to play a team with a losing record. Their next opponents will either be fighting for playoff position or trying to make the playoffs. And they’ll be facing these teams while slogging through another set of injuries.
But on Sunday, Lonzo Ball missed his second game in a row because of a left-knee bruise, the same knee in which a medial collateral ligament sprain caused him to miss six weeks starting in January.
Brandon Ingram was out because of a concussion he suffered Friday, likely after being hit in the neck during the third quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Ingram had been back for only two games since missing 12 because of a groin strain.
Even longtime announcer Lawrence Tanter, who hadn’t missed a game since 1997, wasn’t feeling well enough to participate. That led to one of the Lakers’ many call-ups of the night. Jason Barquero, who calls games for the South Bay Lakers, took Tanter’s place.
On the court, the Lakers also needed bodies.
Travis Wear caught a flight at 6 a.m. Sunday from Oklahoma, where he had been with the South Bay Lakers, to make it back to Los Angeles in time for the game.
Alex Caruso, scheduled for a red-eye flight to Oklahoma, got a call on his way to the airport. Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka told him not to get on the plane because the Lakers needed him. Caruso started at point guard and played 30 minutes.
Walton’s challenge through it all has been to avoid overplaying his young players and exposing them to fatigue-related injuries.
Kuzma didn’t get to 45, but he played a game-high 39 minutes, as did Caldwell-Pope.
In search of healthy bodies, facing some of the league’s best teams, those kinds of minutes will be hard to avoid.
Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli
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