The LeBron James-less Lakers continue to struggle, and coach Luke Walton has a plea for some of his young players.
Walton discussed the role of Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, who are both just 21 years old, with reporters after the team’s 108-86 loss to the Timberwolves on Sunday (Monday, Manila time).
“They’re trying, but they’re young,” Walton said, via ESPN . “At some point, we need more passion. We need more fight. And that’s not scoring more. That’s more diving for loose balls, communicating loudly, grabbing (rebounds).
“Brandon had some really nice crack-back rebounds tonight that we can get out and run (from). We need that all the time from him. So, it’s not just them, but until we get healthy again, you got to play in this league with some passion and fire. It’s hard to win in this league when you are healthy. So you need to double that effort when guys are down.”
Los Angeles has gone 1-5 without James (groin) this season and is lacking a veteran presence on the court. The Lakers are also playing without Rajon Rondo (finger) and Kyle Kuzma (lower back contusion).
The team’s most recent struggles manifested itself in Minnesota, where Los Angeles trailed by as many as 11 points midway through the first quarter.
Ball struggled throughout the night and finished without a single point on 0-for-4 shooting. He grabbed six rebounds and four assists in the Lakers’ losing efforts.
Ingram led the starters with 13 points on 5-for-16 shooting. He had five rebounds, one assist and two blocks.
“I also have all the belief in the world in them that they’ll figure it out and they’ll get it going,” Walton said. “So, they know that we need them, and they’ll get it going for us.”
The Lakers will continue their road trip with a stop in Dallas to face the Mavericks on Monday (Tuesday, Manila time). They’ll enter the contest with a 21-19 record.