Lakers Prepare In Milwaukee for Meeting With Bucks

After a burning hot victory over New York and a freezing cold loss to Detroit, head coach Luke Walton is waiting to see what kind of temperature his team has in Friday’s game against Milwaukee.

After Thursday’s practice at the Bucks’ Bradley Center, Walton said that the Lakers didn’t have the “fire and energy that we want” when they were outscored by 15 in the second half of Wednesday’s 121-102 loss to the Pistons.

Walton critiqued Los Angeles’ performance on both sides of the ball, highlighting the lack of extra passes and inability to clog the paint.

“We weren’t mentally prepare to play a road NBA game, honestly,” Walton said. “It’s what it looked like to me. Whether that’s fatigue, being young or (that) the All-Star break is a week away — I don’t know.

“But we weren’t as locked in or as focused as we were going into Madison Square Garden.”

One of the few highlights of the loss to Detroit was the play of second-overall pick Brandon Ingram.

The rookie shot 6-of-10 from the field to reach 15 points, five assists and three 3-pointers.

With the Bucks looming, Walton acknowledged similarities between Ingram’s potential and the current play of Milwaukee superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Both players are lanky with all-encompassing wingspans and have the unique handling ability to shift from their natural small forward position to point guard.

“We don’t want him to be just a scorer or just a playmaker,” Walton said of Ingram. “We wanted him to be one of those guys who, literally by being on the court, winds up with blocks, steals, rebounds, points and assists.

“Just being all over the floor. That’s our mission for what he’s going to be.”

Still, Ingram clearly has plenty of work ahead of him before reaching the level of Antetokounmpo, who will start in next week’s All-Star Game.

The “Greek Freak” currently leads his team in every major statistical category: points (23.2), rebounds (8.7), assists (5.4), steals (1.7) and blocks (2.0).

But what impresses Walton most is how he is able to use his long strides to attack the rim.

“How easily he gets the ball and gets to the basket is insane,” Walton said. “Whether it’s a quick defensive breakdown in the half court or going coast-to-coast — it’s impressive to watch.”