Published: Sat, January 06, 2018
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Charlotte Hornets - 1/5/18 NBA Pick, Odds, and Prediction

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Charlotte Hornets - 1/5/18 NBA Pick, Odds, and Prediction

Charlotte came away with a win after beating the Sacramento Kings, 131 - 111; Batum: 21 points; Howard: 20 pts, 8 reb. With some winnable games on their home-stand, this losing streak should be coming to an end soon.

Los Angeles, despite its 11-26 record, has been competitive in most of the games that it has lost, but the Lakers have suffered large defeats in their past two games, falling by 37 to the Thunder and by 18 to the Minnesota Timberwolves. His presence alone revamped Steve Alford's UCLA offense a year ago as a team that ran a run-and-gun offense, and that play style has carried over naturally to the Lakers. While they have had some tough competition during the eight-game stretch, the team is getting outmatched.

This is concerning for Laker fans who had high hopes of making the eighth seed for the postseason. Oklahoma City's 8.5 turnover percentage was their largest advantage over Los Angeles, who had a rate of 14.7. The Lakers came into the night as the worst free throw shooting team in the National Basketball Association.

But they won't be this bad, this is just a bad stretch. Rookie point guards usually don't shoot well to begin with, and shooting percentages are less an indication of a player's actual shooting prowess than a representation of their tendencies on the court. This may be Lonzo Ball's first game back after injuring his shoulder almost two weeks ago.

Lonzo Ball (shoulder) was practiced fully on Thursday and is questionable for Friday's game vs. Charlotte. It'll be interesting to see how much playing time he'll get. His defense is missed, his playmaking ability is missed, the overall change in culture that he brings to the table is missed.

Walton's team is finally starting to get healthier. The 27th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft is averaging 17.5 points per game on 47 percent shooting through the first 36 games of his career. So far, he has averaged 11.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.1 assists in 22.9 minutes per game and a win share of 2.5. Add in Jayson Tatum, Donovan Mitchell, Lauri Markannen, and even Ball's mercurial teammate Kyle Kuzma, and Ball might not even sniff a vote in this year's ROY contest come June. No one player on the team dominates ball possession, and every player is a legitimate threat to score.

Lonzo Ball returned to practice on Thursday, participating fully for the first time since spraining his left shoulder on December 23.

While it is at the expense of his team losing eight games, this skid is exactly what Ball needed for his image. "All positive signs from him today". Perhaps it's time we give Ball the recognition he's due. If he does not come back soon, the Lakers may fall in a hole that is inescapable when he does return.

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