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Lonzo Ball thinks Luke Walton was right to challenge him, Brandon Ingram

The Los Angeles Lakers have played without superstar LeBron James and point guard Rajon Rondo for the last nine games. The team has had to ask their young core, particularly Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, to lead the way in the absence of the two veterans, but so far, they haven’t been able to deliver.

Lakers head coach Luke Walton recently called out Ball and Ingram for their lack of effort and aggressiveness, and rightfully so. They have lost six of their last nine games and are in danger of falling out of the West’s top eight teams.

Since Walton’s remarks, the pair of former second overall picks decided to have a one-on-one conversation in order to figure out how to play without two of their best players. According to Sam Amico of The Athletic, Ball  said that his coach’s approach did work.

“He’s a very, very chill coach, you know what I mean?” Ball would later tell me. “He kind of gives players the freedom to do what they want to do. And this year, we’ve just got a lot of new players, obviously, and my role changed, and I’m fine with that. I just want to do what I can to help (them) win, and I think Luke wants the same.“(But) that comment challenged us. And we’ve been playing better ever since, so obviously he made the right choice.”

With the Lakers facing the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls in their next two games, it’s important for Ball, Ingram, and guys like Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart to find their rhythm on both ends of the floor. With rumors circulating that both James and Rondo won’t be returning until February, they will have to find ways to get as many wins as they can.

It won’t be easy though, with the Lakers’ upcoming scheduling featuring games against the Golden State Warriors, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Houston Rockets.