Lonzo Ball returned from a six-game absence Friday night, but the Los Angeles Lakers continued to be plagued by defensive woes in a 108-94 loss to the Charlotte Hornets at Staples Center.
The Lakers have now lost nine games in a row and 12 of their last 13 overall.
Ball, who had been out since Christmas Day with a sprained left shoulder, finished with 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting, five assists and four rebounds in 27 minutes.
Included in his effort was a slick crossover of Hornets point guard Kemba Walker that was punctuated by an emphatic finish at the rim:
Ball was also aggressive from deep and drilled 3-of-7 threes, although he wasn't immune to a couple air balls as he tried to shoot the Lakers back into a game they largely trailed by double digits.
The big issue for the Lakers was on the other end of the floor, where they failed to fix a defense head coach Luke Walton described as "pretty tragic recently" before tipoff, according to Southern California News Group's Bill Oram.
That description was apt again as the Hornets shot 42.4 percent from the field, 36.4 percent from three and turned 16 Lakers turnovers into 24 points. Charlotte also boasted six double-figure scorers, including Walker, who finished with a team-high 19 points.
As Bleacher Report's Dave Schilling observed, the Lakers are in a rut that won't be easy to snap out of:
Ball and Co. will continue their five-game homestand Sunday when the Atlanta Hawks come to town.
After that cross-conference tilt, the Lakers will host the Sacramento Kings and San Antonio Spurs before setting out on a three-game road trip.
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