Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Without LeBron James who reportedly could miss ‘several’ games due to a groin strain, head coach Luke Walton and the Los Angeles Lakers relied on the young core against the Sacramento Kings.

For 3.5 quarters, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball embraced the challenge of playing without James as the Lakers led by as many as 15 points. Unfortunately, turnovers down the stretch and Ingram’s missed free throw led to Bogdan Bogdanovic’s game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Despite Ball’s near triple-double and 55 combined points from Ingram and Kuzma, the Lakers are now 20-15 and fifth place in the Western Conference.

For Walton, he was particularly disappointed with how the Lakers young core reacted to the officiating, via Spectrum SportsNet:

“I thought we played well enough to win that game. (But) we didn’t do enough. There’s a lot of plays we left out there on the table, as we continue to get better, especially with they injuries we have, that we need our young guys to step up and make. Whether it’s boxing out and coming up with rebounds when you get a stop, not complaining to referees when you think you get fouled. … We talk about don’t complain to the refs. ‘You play, I’ll talk to the refs. You get back.’ Kuz thought he got fouled, was slow getting back, and they got a transition bucket. The frustrating part is it’s things we can control and we’ve already gone through that. We should’ve learned from it but we had to pay the price tonight.”

Without James and Rajon Rondo, the Lakers did not maintain their composure in a hostile environment. As there was good ball movement through three quarters, they resorted to isolations and became frustrated when they did not get foul calls in their favor.

Fortunately for the Lakers, they return home and face the Clippers on the second night of a back-to-back situation. While Ball dealt with cramps at two different points of the game, he expects to be ready and will look to build on a strong individual performance.

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