Ham vows turnaround: Didn’t come to L.A. to lose

SALT LAKE CITY — An undermanned Los Angeles Lakers team dropped to 2-8 on the season with a 139-116 loss to the Utah Jazz on Monday. It was their third straight loss, all by 14 points or more.

And in each of those losses, L.A. looked progressively ineffective on the defensive end after showing some signs of life on that end at the outset of season.

Yet, as bleak as things might seem, ranked 14th out of 15 teams in the Western Conference through 10 games played, Lakers coach Darvin Ham vowed a turnaround is on the way.

“I would say this, man. And write it, quote it, however,” Ham told reporters, beginning an impassioned diatribe about the state of the Lakers. “This may be happening now at the outset of what we’re trying to force to be a culture change in terms of getting us back to being highly competitive on a highly consistent basis, but it’s not going to always be like this.

“We’re going to turn the corner. I didn’t come here to lose. They didn’t bring me here to lose.”

With LeBron James sidelined because of discomfort in his left foot and L.A. down two other starters because of a (non-COVID) illness that’s swept through the locker room in Lonnie Walker and Patrick Beverley, the upstart Jazz controlled the action from the start.

Ham said the rocky start was to be expected for a team experiencing so much turnover from a year ago, and some injury misfortunate, thus far.

“There is a process involved where we have to go through tough times,” Ham continued. “Like, I want to bottle this up. I want to embrace it. I want to have it and store it so when things are turned around and we get too comfortable and we start complaining about some problems that are not even necessarily problems — problems that winning teams go through — I want to be able to reflect on these times.”

Without James, Anthony Davis led the Lakers with 29 points on 11-for-18 shooting and Russell Westbrook went 8-for-14 for 22 points off the bench.

Davis took accountability for his play on the defensive end by pointing out how he was saddled by early foul trouble and didn’t do enough to stop Lauri Markkanen on drives to the hoop. He said the team’s failure came in the third quarter, when the Lakers were outscored 39-27.

“It’s like we just stopped communicating in the third quarter, stopped helping one another,” Davis said. “We can’t afford that.”

And he lamented the state of the team.

“S—, 2-8 is a hard pill for me to swallow,” Davis said. “Obviously, it can change around. I think New Orleans was 1-12 or something last year, come back and go on a run. We’ve got to put it together. Offense has found its rhythm. It seems like we’ve lost all our defensive intensity. And that’s what’s killing us.”

Ham specifically said he was not aiming his postgame comments at Davis — “That’s not directed at AD,” he said — but remained steadfast in his optimism in the Lakers’ situation.

“I don’t want anyone around me with a defeatist mentality,” Ham said. “I don’t want anyone around me that’s not competitive. I don’t want anyone around me that’s selfish. We got to be on the same page at all times, through the good, bad and indifferent. And that’s all I can say about that. …

“I’ve always seen the glass half full, regardless of the circumstance. And it’s damn sure not going to stop now. We’re going to push through this and we’re going to be better for it.”

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