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Kyle Kuzma on “embarrassing” Lakers’ loss: “We really gave up”

Kyle Kuzma

Los Angeles Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma celebrates after making a basket against the Memphis Grizzlies during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)


LOS ANGELES — The Lakers have lost eight in a row, the most recent of those was a thrashing at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder Wednesday night, 133-96. After a slow first quarter, the Thunder got whatever shot they wanted on the Lakers’ defense, and Los Angeles couldn’t string together consistent buckets. It was a horrible sales pitch to Paul George.

All of those issues are a familiar sight to Lakers fans — in those eight losses the Lakers have a bottom four offense and defense compared to the league.

Rookie Kyle Kuzma’s frustration bubbled over postgame.

“Today was five steps back in my opinion, so something that we need to address, I don’t know, pray, something needs to change for sure...” Kuzma said, sounding like the kind of young leader this team could use (and playing like one more than most, scoring 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting).

“You could see, they got basket after basket, we had no resistance on them on the defensive end and offensive end. When things got tough, we tried to do it individually, and you can’t do that in this league.

“We just flat-out gave out... they took a little lead, and we just went to being selfish on the floor. We didn’t compete on defense. They killed us. ... To lose by [nearly] 40, it is pretty embarrassing to be out there.”

Welcome to the roller coaster of rebuilding. The Lakers started playing fast and better than expected defense to start the season — Los Angeles showed real grit — but opponents adapted, offenses adjusted, the Lakers had a few injuries, and the trade rumors around the young team got in their heads. This is not out of the ordinary, Lakers fans just aren’t used to seeing it with their team.

“We have to have grit, whether things are going for us (or not),” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “We have to have grit whether we are missing shots or making shots, that shouldn’t change...

“As a team, coaching staff included, our fans deserve better than that and our organization deserves better than that.”

That’s the right thing to say. Fixing the issues is a lot harder.