Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Playing without LeBron James and Rajon Rondo, then losing Kyle Kuzma to a lower back contusion, left the Los Angeles Lakers with little margin for error against the Oklahoma City Thunder. As has been the case throughout the season, free throw shooting ultimately came back to cost them.

The Lakers rallied and took a lead into the fourth quarter, only to allow the Thunder bench unit to mount a comeback. L.A. struggled to corral defensive rebounds and when they were on offense, couldn’t capitalize when sent to the free throw line.

Lonzo Ball missed three consecutive free throws during one crucial stretch and finished the night 1-for-5. “We’ve got to fix it,” Ball said of the team’s free throw woes.

“Especially if we want to win in the playoffs. We’re not going to win if we keep missing free throws as a whole. Myself, I’ve obviously got to make mine.”

The Lakers shot 59.4 percent at the line and missed 13 free throws in their 107-100 loss. They remained within striking distance throughout the night in part because of Russell Westbrook’s off shooting and the Thunder only going 20-for-31 (64.5 percent) at the charity stripe.

Nevertheless, it was a third loss in the past four games for the Lakers who have suddenly plummeted to eighth place in the Western Conference.

“We’ve got to play every game to win, especially in the West,” Ball said. “We keep slipping the more we lose, so we’ve got to turn it around.”

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