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Kyle Kuzma: Lakers 'Gave Up' vs. Thunder; Was 'Embarrassing to Be Out There'

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJanuary 4, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 01: Kyle Kuzma #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers dribbles the ball against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the game on January 1, 2018 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Following a 133-96 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder at home Wednesday night, Los Angeles Lakers rookie Kyle Kuzma ripped his team's effort.

According to ESPN.com's Ohm Youngmisuk, Kuzma expressed his belief that the Lakers quit on the game:

"We gave up. 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. ... 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."

Kuzma paced the Lakers with 18 points in the loss, while rookie guard Lonzo Ball missed his sixth straight game due to a shoulder injury.

L.A. has now lost eight consecutive games and 11 of its past 12 contests, placing it last in the Western Conference at 11-26.

Kuzma has continued to be one of the team's few bright spots, but he believes the competitive fire in the team as a whole has been lacking lately: "Except for the past two games, we have been competing and fighting in games. Today was five steps back. [It is] something that we need to address, whatever, correct. Something has to change for sure. That is not being a Laker. I have only been a Laker for a couple of months, but that's not it."

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Much of the hype surrounding the Lakers entering the 2017-18 season focused on Ball, but Kuzma has shown more superstar potential.

The No. 27 overall draft pick out of Utah is averaging a team-high 17.5 points per game to go along with 6.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists.

Lakers head coach Luke Walton mentioned injuries as a possible culprit for the Lakers' recent struggles as a whole. However, Brandon Ingram, Brook Lopez and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope all played Wednesday after each previously missed games.

To make matters worse, Wednesday's loss occurred against Thunder forward Paul George, who is in line to be a prized free agent during the offseason.

The Lakers have promising young pieces who could help lure big names to Los Angeles during the offseason, but their recent play suggests they are far away from returning to the franchise's glory days.

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