(Photo By: Ty Nowell/Lakers.com)
Lakers vs. Rockets: 3 Things to Know (12/3/17)
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers return to Los Angeles to face the Houston Rockets.
1) B.I. has shown plenty of potential
The Lakers’ leading scorer in back-to-back games, Brandon Ingram has hit the 20-point mark in consecutive contests for the first time in his career.
The 20-year-old has made significant progress in his game just one month into the season, particularly when it comes to attacking the paint.
He has dusted defenders with his long strides, finished at the rim at crazy angles with his giant wingspan, and forced opponents to send him to the foul line much more often.
Ingram has scored double figures in eight straight games, averaging 19.3 points and 5.6 free throw attempts while shooting 50.4 percent from the field.
Coach Luke Walton has said that he wants to see Ingram use his driving to open up slash-and-kick opportunities for teammates.
While the sophomore has only four assists in his last three appearances combined, he has flashed a fair amount of vision, with seven individual games of that many dimes this season.
Plays like the one below show both Ingram’s talent and potential to improve.
Jordan Clarkson makes the hustle save to keep the ball inbounds and relocates to the corner, where he is wide open for 3. Ingram should make the pass to one of the Lakers’ best shooters, but instead drives in for a tough layup.
The fact that Ingram can make such a shot in crunch time is outstanding, and he will take his game to a higher level when able to consistently make those split-second decisions like finding Clarkson here.
2) Lakers need to cut down on the turnovers
In Saturday’s game at Denver, the Lakers tied it up at 100 with four minutes remaining. Then they coughed up four turnovers over their next six possessions, rapidly turning a competitive game into a 15-point loss.
In that contest, the Lakers tied their season-high by committing 21 giveaways for the fifth time this year. While a lack of shooting has been L.A.’s most glaring weakness thus far, turnovers have been just as problematic.
The Lakers are currently just 2-10 when committing 17 turnovers or more, and 6-4 when finishing below that threshold.
Though the purple and gold average the NBA’s second-most giveaways, it’s not like there is one player dragging down the whole team, as they do not have anyone among the top 30 in individual turnovers.
The problem stems more from several players committing a few a game, which all add up to a high total. It’s an issue common among young teams, but nonetheless frustrating for a club looking to prove itself ready to compete every night.
3) The Rockets are legitimate contenders
The Lakers are up against a red-hot Rockets team that boasts the NBA’s second-ranked offense and fifth-ranked defense.
With such stellar play on both sides of the ball, Houston has won 12 of its last 13 games. At the heart of it all is the MVP-caliber play of James Harden.
The L.A. native has been volcanic this season, leading the NBA in scoring (31.5) and assists (9.8). Capable of splashing from outside and slashing inside, the Beard is also tops in the league in made 3-pointers (4.5) and free throws (8.0).
With Harden playing at such a dynamic level, it’s almost unfair to have so much talent around him. Future Hall of Famer Chris Paul is dishing out 10.3 assists per game. Pick-and-roll savant Clint Capela leads the NBA in field goal percentage (67.0) and ranks fifth in blocks (1.71) and sixth in rebounds (11.3).
Plus, Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon and Trevor Ariza are capable of raining triples for a team averaging 16.2 3-pointers — a mark that would beat the current NBA record by nearly two a game.
Lakers: Kyle Kuzma (back spasms) is probable.
Rockets: Zhou Qi (sore left calf), Troy Williams (right knee MCL sprain) and Chinanu Onuaku (G League assignment) are out.
Tip-Off: 6:30 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes in L.A. NBA TV nationally
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Location: STAPLES Center — Los Angeles, California