DENVER – After the biggest collapse of the season at the Los Angeles Lakers, Lonzo Ball was the last player left in the Pepsi Center visitor locker room, walking cautiously with his calves stiff.
The only thing that fitted the calf muscles of the rookie was the tight implosion of the Lakers in the final 3:56 of a 115-100 loss to the Denver Nuggets. The Lakers have lost four consecutive games, but this defeat left them as frustrated as they have been throughout the season.
"The end of the quarter was probably as bad as we could have played," Lakers coach Luke Walton said. He said. "… We had three or four trips where the guys literally picked up the ball and took two steps before dribbling, which is absolutely unacceptable."
After finishing the game by being outscored by 15-0, all the Lakers can do is get away from this ugly ending and forget it when they return home to face the high octane Houston Rockets on Sunday. The Lakers hope to have Ball, whose calves will be reevaluated. Ball's left calf was tight before the game and he played with a sleeve, but his right calf tensed during Saturday's game. After the game, Ball walked notably through the locker room with a rigid strut similar to Frankenstein's.
"I should be out," Ball said of playing against the Rockets. "The left tensed, so we put the sleeve, and throughout the game the right began to increase."
Ball (nine points, nine rebounds, five badists and five turnovers) was one of the few players in the Lakers who tried to explain what happened to them in the section against a team that Nikola Jokic, Paul Millsap and Wilson Chandler due to injuries. A couple of Lakers players politely left the locker room without talking to the media, which is something they do not normally do. And really, who could blame them?
This was a final as abysmal as there is. The Lakers missed their last four shots, flipped the ball four times and committed six fouls. Ball even received his first technical foul so he said he was complaining about a call against Walton before head official Marc Davis heard him and handed him a coach with 2:24 left. The Lakers were completely falling apart at that point, going down six and sinking fast.
Lonzo Ball is penalized for a foul on Jamal Murray and then receives a technical call after being bocón with the officials.
"I do not think I deserved a technician for that," said the normally reserved Ball. "I was talking to Luke, [Davis] I heard it and he gave me a technician, I was very surprised".
"I just said it's BS for Luke and then [the ref] whistled the whistle."
Al Lakers credit, they have been in many games this season in which they probably did not have any business. If they wasted a 20-point lead or were left behind, the Lakers often still managed to be in those games and compete until the end. Most teams as young and inexperienced as the Lakers used to retire under those circumstances.
However, the Lakers disintegrated in Denver. They have lost many of their games this season, making enough mistakes to lose. Tonight was an avalanche of errors in the last four minutes.
Losses of sales have plagued the Lakers, and it was a big problem again. The Lakers can not stop turning the ball carelessly when they run in transition or midcourt when their offense slows down, and they committed 21 turnovers that lead to 28 points for the Nuggets (13-9). The 21 turnovers are not even high in their season, dropping one less than that.
|Latest 3:56 of 4 Q||Lakers||Nuggets|
|FGs||0/4 (0%)||3/5 (60.0%)|
|Threes||0/2 (0%)  1/1 (100.0%)|
|FTs||0/0 (-)||8/9 (88.9%)  LAL PG Lonzo Ball called for a technical foul with 2:24 to be played in the Last Quarter|
Brandon Ingram led the Lakers with 20 points after scoring the personal record of 32 in his overtime loss to Golden State. But his layup with 3:57 left to tie the game was the last basket of the night for Los Angeles (8-14).
"I think sometimes we get a little impatient at the end of the basketball game and I think we were trying to take it on ourselves a bit," Ingram said. "I know I had some turnovers at the end of the game that I could have taken care of the ball, but the sloppy turnovers I think put them to the edge."
"Just by insisting on taking care of the ball, I think it's by these games in this way will only make us improve and will make us value the ball even more, "Ingram continued. Of course, I think we had control of this game all the time, but we let that one slip. "
There are probably at least five games that the Lakers could have won at the end just to make the kind of costly mistakes that young teams like the Lakers often make to allow a veteran team to pull one in. This is all part of reconstruction for the Lakers, Walton and senior management understand that these are the necessary growth pains.
While time expires in the Nuggets victory over the Lakers, Jamal Murray dribbles the ball around Lonzo Ball, and Julius Randle does not like it.
But there was more frustration in the Lakers' locker room after that than in the whole season, now they are on the longest losing streak of the season, and Former Clipper Chris Paul returns to Los Angeles with James Harden at his side.
The Lakers' calendar becomes more brutal as the month progresses After Houston, the Lakers travel to play in Philadelphia, Cha rlotte, New York and Cleveland. They face Golden State twice, Houston twice, Portland, Minnesota, Memphis and the Clippers all over the New Year.
"We feel we are playing well enough to win games, that's a good thing," Ball said. "Negative is that we keep hitting, we feel like [that at least]."