After a 108-86 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves dropped the Los Angeles Lakers to 1-5 without LeBron James this season, Lakers coach Luke Walton said he wants to see more fire from his team's two former lottery picks, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, as they try to make it through James' absence.
"They're trying, but they're young," Walton said of Ball and Ingram, both just 21 years old. "At some point, we need more passion. We need more fight. And that's not scoring more. That's more diving for loose balls, communicating loudly, grabbing [rebounds].
"Brandon had some really nice crack-back rebounds tonight that we can get out and run [from]. We need that all the time from him. So, it's not just them, but until we get healthy again, you got to play in this league with some passion and fire. It's hard to win in this league when you are healthy. So you need to double that effort when guys are down."
Aside from James, out with a groin injury, the Lakers were also missing Rajon Rondo (finger surgery) and Kyle Kuzma (lower-back bruise) and got off to a disastrous start, trailing 26-5 midway through the first quarter.
It didn't get much better for Ball, who finished without a point on 0-for-4 shooting, 6 rebounds and 4 assists, or for Ingram (13 points on 5-for-16 shooting, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks and 3 turnovers), as the Lakers never got closer than 12 points the rest of the way.
"I talk about it with them all the time," Walton said when asked whether he's been able to connect with the former No. 2 picks when they are disengaged. "There's no secret to it. As far as finding that way, I can find it with a lot of people. I don't have the exact answer on those ones yet. But I also have all the belief in the world in them that they'll figure it out and they'll get it going. So, they know that we need them, and they'll get it going for us."
Ball did not disagree with his coach's critique.