Latest posts by Don McCormack (see all)
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As a rookie, Kyle Kuzma’s time as a Los Angeles Laker certainly has not been extensive.
However, after he and his teammates were run off the floor in a 133-96 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night at Staples Center, the 6-foot-9, 220-pound forward out of the University of Utah, didn’t hold back.
“That is not being a Laker,” Kuzma, the 27th overall selection by the Lakers in the 2017 draft, told reporters after the game. “I have only been a Laker for a couple of months, but that’s not it.”
Kuzma, who admitted he and his teammates, who have lost eight consecutive games, are 1-9 in their last 10 contests and possess the second-worst record in the NBA at 11-26, better than only Atlanta (10-27), said the white flag was raised.
“We gave up,” Kuzma, who scored a team-high 18 points in the loss, said. “You could see, they got basket after basket, we had no resistance on them on the defensive end and offensive end. When things got tough, we tried to do it individually, and you can’t do that in this league.
“They took a little lead, and we just went to being selfish on the floor. We didn’t compete on defense. They killed us. … To lose by [almost] 40, it is pretty embarrassing to be out there.”
Lakers coach Luke Walton, was not quite as quick to be so harsh in his assessment of the lopsided loss.
“It felt a little bit like we gave in or we felt sorry for ourselves a little bit, which isn’t who we are as a group,” Walton said. “I am going to have to check the tape to see why we completely stopped competing out there.
“Our fans deserve better than that, and our organization deserves better than that.”
Five of the last six losses for Los Angeles have come by an average 19.4 points per game. Injuries to second-year man Brandon Ingram (both quadriceps), rookie Lonzo Ball (shoulder) and veteran center Brook Lopez (ankle)– and a legal situation that prevents swingman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope from playing in games outside the state of California — have only served to grease the skids for the reeling Lakers.
“I think injuries have a little bit to do with it,” Walton said. “This is something we will fix. We are not going to start getting blown out now. We are not going to start feeling sorry for ourselves. We are going to get back in the gym, go to work, show film. I believe in the character of our team. We will fix it.”
“Except for the past two games, we have been competing and fighting in games,” Kuzma said. Before the 37-point drubbing by the Thunder on Wednesday night, the Lakers were felled by 18 by the Minnesota Timberwolves. “Today was five steps back. (It’s) something that we need to address, whatever, correct.
“Something has to change for sure.”
The Lakers’ next opportunity to do that will come Friday night when they welcome the 14-23 Charlotte Hornets to Staples Center.