Lakers lose ninth straight

LOS ANGELES — Lonzo Ball returned for the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night, but the losing didn’t go anywhere.

The Lakers (11-27) lost their ninth straight game, falling to the Hornets 108-94, behind a performance that saw them turn the ball over 16 times. The Hornets (15-23) made the most of those opportunities, scoring 24 points off Lakers’ miscues.

Charlotte had 15 turnovers of its own, but the Lakers only scored nine points off them.

Ball played well in his return from a shoulder injury, scoring 11 points and adding five assists and four rebounds in 27 minutes. The pace he brings to the team seemed to return in the early moments of the game, but the Lakers finished with only nine fast-break points to Charlotte’s 24.

But Ball didn’t seem to satisfied with the pace of the game.

“It wasn’t too good,” Ball said. “We didn’t win.”

Brandon Ingram led the Lakers with 22 points and a career-high 14 rebounds. Julius Randle started again and had 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Kemba Walker led the Hornets with 19 points, while Jeremy Lamb had 17 points off the bench. Michael Carter-Williams had 16 points and Dwight Howard added 15 points and 10 rebounds.

The Lakers fell behind by as many as 25 points in the fourth quarter. They shot 40.4% for the game.

Normally a breakneck team on the fast break, the Lakers were outscored 24-9 by the Hornets in that area.

Kyle Kuzma had a subpar game, scoring only four points on 2-of-14 shooting. He did not like his effort on Friday.

“I just need to focus on playing hard,” Kuzma said. “I think that was one of the main reasons why I struggled.”

Ball made two 3-pointers and Brook Lopez added one of his own to help cut Charlotte’s lead to nine early in the third quarter. But the Hornets responded, taking a 21-point lead on Nicolas Batum’s jumper with 2 minutes remaining.

The Hornets started the second quarter on a 10-2 run and took a 38-26 lead. Walker scored just before the halftime buzzer for a 63-48 lead.

The Lakers trailed by six in the early going, but came to within one after Clarkson connected on a jumper. The Hornets held a 28-24 lead after the first 12 minutes.

After the game, Walton’s message to the team was simple.

“It’s not easy, but we’re gonna fight our way through it,” Walton said.

UP NEXT

Hornets: Host the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday.

Lakers: Host the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday.

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