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Lonzo Ball has not been the same since Rajon Rondo returned from his suspension

His struggles in the last two games have been so magnified that even Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball pondered why he hasn’t gotten himself more engaged in the two losses.

After the Lakers practiced Tuesday, Ball was asked how he can become more involved.

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“Aw, just getting into the flow more,” Ball said. “Like I said, get the rebound. That’s going to be big for me, getting the rebound and being able to push the ball like that. Hit open shots. Play defense.”

In the last two games he had a season-low six points at San Antonio on Saturday night only to reach a new low of four points at Minnesota on Monday night.

He shot only 28.5% from the field and 22.2% from three-point range during those two games, when he handed out four assists, collected three rebounds and had zero steals.

“Like I said for me, it’s going to start on defense,” Ball said. “Picking up, getting some steals, rebounding the ball. When I do that and my shot starts falling, I’ll just feel more into the game.”

Luke Walton was later questioned about Ball’s lack of focus and whether the coach has seen that in the past.

“Have I seen that before? Yeah,” Walton answered.

So what has the coaching staff done to keep Ball engaged?

“It’s different techniques,” Walton said. “We try them all, whether it’s being hard on him, encouraging him, running more plays for him. But we see it. He’s a young point guard and we’re going to continue to monitor and continue to work on it with him.”

Lakers guard Lonzo Ball battles Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge for the ball during their game Oct. 27
Lakers guard Lonzo Ball battles Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge for the ball during their game Oct. 27 (Ronald Cortes / Getty Images)

What’s interesting is that when Rajon Rondo was serving his three-game suspension for spitting on and fighting with Houston’s Chris Paul, Ball played his best basketball of the young season.

He averaged 12.6 points on 53.5% shooting from the field, including 40% from three-point range, during those three games as well as 6.3 rebounds, 6.6 assists and 2.6 steals, including five against Denver.

“It’s the professional responsibility to each player to bring what they bring to the table,” Walton said. “And then it’s our responsibility as a coaching staff to push them and put them in places to succeed.”

A little defense

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The Lakers are ranked next to last in the NBA in points allowed, giving up 122.3 a game. They rank 22nd in defensive efficiency at 111.8.

Opponents have shot 47.7 % from the field, ranking the Lakers 24th in field goal defense; they’re 23rd in three-point defense (37.4%).

“We have a goal of being a top-10 defensive team,” Walton said. “Looks like a far, far, far away goal right now. …

“A part of growing with a new team is learning strengths and weaknesses of each other. Part of it is we have to get better individually guarding our man. But then it’s also understanding where we might be getting beat and anticipating being there to help guys out. But it comes with time.”

Etc.

The Lakers made another lineup change against the Timberwolves, starting Ball and Brandon Ingram in the backcourt, Kyle Kuzma and LeBron James at forward, and JaVale McGee at center.

Walton was asked if he would stay with that lineup when the Lakers play Dallas on Wednesday night at Staples Center.

“I was happy with them for parts of the game,” Walton said. “We’ll evaluate that later.”

UP NEXT

VS DALLAS

When: 7:30 p.m., Wednesday.

On Air. TV: Spectrum SportsNet; Radio: 710, 1330.

UPDATE: Lakers center JaVale McGee is fourth in the NBA in shooting percentage (65.3%) and Dallas center DeAndre Jordan is fifth (64.9%). Jordan is third in the league in rebounds, averaging 15.1 a game. Dallas rookie Luka Doncic leads the Mavericks in scoring at 20.4 points a game.

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