On Friday night, the Los Angeles Lakers hit a new a low when they lost in blowout fashion, 108-94, to the Charlotte Hornets, a team that entered the night with a 4-13 road record and a 14-23 record overall.
The Lakers got a pregame boost when rookie point guard Lonzo Ball returned after six games out due to a sprained shoulder, but Ball could not spark the team back to winning ways, or even being competitive on this night. Still, his time on the court provided a positive view into the future of the season and beyond.
"It was really nice having Zo [Lonzo Ball] back, and even though, obviously, we didn't win the game, just what he brings to the group."
Ball finished the night with 11 points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals in 27 minutes on the court.
Friday night's game, though, was not competitive. LA trailed by as many as 25 points on the night and eventually lost by 14. Kemba Walker led the way for the visitors with 19 points, seven assists and two rebounds. Six different Hornets scored in double figures in the comfortable victory for Charlotte.
Brandon Ingram provided the Lakers a sliver of silver lining, as the forward had been struggling to make an impact in recent games. Against the Hornets, Ingram played an active game and finished the night with 22 points, 14 rebounds and four assists in 37 minutes, making 10 of his 18 field goal attempts.
Matching Ingram's double-double, Julius Randle finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds, as Walton tried a new starting lineup. On this night, Randle shifted to power forward in a new-look starting lineup that returned Brook Lopez to center, with Ingram at small forward, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at shooting guard and Ball at point guard. Lopez only managed 19 minutes on the court and scored 11 points and tabbed four assists in those minutes, but Caldwell-Pope struggled with zero points in only 20 minutes on the court.
After the game, Walton said he subbed out Caldwell-Pope for rookie Josh Hart because the veteran shooting guard seemed to be lacking the defensive intensity required. Walton continued to harp on the defensive deficiencies after the game.
"I think the biggest difference in right now and the past week or so has been defense," Walton said after the game, repeatedly harping on the team's sudden drop-off on that end of the court.
Walton added, "We're going to get back to being a good defensive team no matter what it takes."
The Lakers fell ot 11-26 on the season and will next play on Sunday night against the Atlanta Hawks at Staples Center.