Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Since LeBron James and Rajon Rondo suffered injuries a Christmas Day win against the Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Lakers have lost two consecutive games.

Despite double-digit leads in the second half against the Sacramento Kings and Clippers, the Lakers have been unable to close out either contest. While there is frustration, the young core of Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Kyle Kuzma, and Lonzo Ball are adjusting to increased roles.

Through the highs and lows, head coach Luke Walton expressed confidence in the Lakers as there is pressure to keep up in the extremely competitive Western Conference.

“I know we can get through it,” Walton said. “I know it’s not going to be easy, but I know and believe in the guys that we have. I thought at Sacramento we played a game on the road against a good team that we should’ve won.

“[Friday], we had a 10-point lead late in the third. I know that’s not winning, but I believe the team we have can get it done. We just have to do a couple things a little bit better.”

After back-to-back losses, the Lakers are now 20-16 and sixth in the conference. However, only 4.5 games separate them from Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans, who are 16-21 and 14th.

The Lakers will get a chance at redemption against the Kings on Sunday to close out 2018. After that the homestand continues with a matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday.

As Ball has played extremely well, the team as a whole needs to focus on the intangibles, especially in the second half. If they can maintain their ball movement and limit their turnovers, the young Lakers give themselves a chance to win games.

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