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Lonzo Ball continues to struggle with his shot in Lakers' 111-95 loss to the Wizards

Tania Ganguli, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Basketball

WASHINGTON -- There will be no magic salve for Lonzo Ball's shooting, just as there hasn't been for hundreds of players who came before him. It will take time, it will take work and while he works on getting there, he will be hounded constantly about what is wrong and how he can fix it.

On Thursday night after the Lakers lost to the Washington Wizards, 111-95, Ball was asked if he ever wishes he had room to grow, or if he knows he never will.

"I already know; I live in reality," Ball said, then he pursed his lips and nodded the way he does to close most answers.

In the 12th game of his NBA career, Lonzo Ball neared a triple-double with 10 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. He also made only three of 12 shots and was one for seven on 3-pointers. Fans at Capital One Arena jeered and laughed when Ball missed shots, but after the game his teammates offered the kind of patience and understanding he isn't getting from the outside.

"Every time you turn on any sports show, all they talk about is his shot," Lakers coach Luke Walton said. "He's already playing for the Lakers so he's got a lot more pressure on him than anyone has in a long time that has come out in college.

"I am thrilled he is on our team and he is going to start making those shots. It is just a matter of time. But he makes our team so much better when he is on the floor. Even when that shot is not going in, the way he can push the ball, the way he can make plays on the defensive end, the way he comes in and rebounds from a guard position is incredible. Is it extra pressure? 100 percent. He is a rookie, as you put it, dissected by everybody and that is what it is and that probably will not change. So we will keep working with him and encourage him to make plays and get better and he will."

In November, Ball has made 13 of 57 shots. The month began with an 0-for-2 performance against the Portland Trail Blazers that led Walton to ask for more aggression from the point guard. Then he made three of 15 shots against the Brooklyn Nets, three of 13 against the Memphis Grizzlies and four of 15 against the Boston Celtics.

After the Lakers lost to the Celtics, Ball revealed that Walton and Magic Johnson, the Lakers president of basketball operations, had talked with him about correcting his footwork to improve his balance. While the Lakers have said they won't tinker with his unorthodox shooting motion, the balance is part of what Ball works on with assistant coaches Miles Simon and Brian Shaw.

On Thursday, the Lakers were facing a hungry team that lost to them in overtime last month. In the first quarter, they gave up 37 points to the Wizards, who made 60 percent of their shots. But they kept pace largely because of their own strong shooting. After one quarter the Lakers trailed by three.

The Wizards outscored the Lakers by 10 in the second quarter and led by as many as 16 points. The Wizards finished with three players scoring 20 or more points -- Otto Porter Jr., Bradley Beal and John Wall. They made 51.8 percent of their shots and scored 27 points off 19 turnovers.

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