(Photo By: Ty Nowell/Lakers.com)
Lakers at Hornets: 3 Things to Know (12/9/17)
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers continue their road trip against the Charlotte Hornets.
1) The Lakers are coming off their strongest finish of the season
The last four minutes of Lakers Basketball were probably the most impressive of the season, as the purple and gold closed out a last-second victory over Philadelphia.
In a rematch between two of the NBA’s top young cores, Julius Randle, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram made the winning plays necessary to exact revenge on the Sixers.
Randle was the engine at the end, getting two big stops on Joel Embiid and providing eight points in those final four minutes, including three pick-and-roll scores. Ball fed Randle for two of those P&Rs, but saved his final dime for Ingram in the biggest moment.
After Randle successfully defended Embiid at the rim, Ball snagged the long rebound and immediately pushed ahead, causing the Sixers’ defense to scramble.
That confusion allowed him a path to the hoop, which led to all five defenders converging upon him. Ball’s gravitational pull left Ingram wide open on the wing, where he buried his clutch shot with 0.8 seconds left for a Lakers victory.
An absolutely clutch sequence by three young Lakers.— Joey Ramirez (@JoeyARamirez) December 8, 2017
• Julius stops the NBA's best post-up player
• Lonzo pushes the break, causing defensive confusion
• Zo drives, drawing all 5 defenders toward him
: https://t.co/WnvrbLyUTd pic.twitter.com/RzXMQ3wfxS
2) B.I. returns to NC
The last time Ingram played in his home state of North Carolina, he was a teenager struggling to find a rhythm through the first 30 games of his career. That feels like much more than just a year ago.
The 20-year-old is currently averaging 16.3 points, tying Kyle Kuzma for the most on the team this season.
As Mike Trudell noted, that compares favorably to the scoring of all-star wings Giannis Antetokounmpo (12.7 ppg) and Paul George (7.8) when they were Ingram’s age.
Ingram’s production has soared over his last 10 games, in which he has put up 19.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 6.1 free throw attempts while shooting 47.4 percent from the field.
The sophomore’s key to this success has undoubtedly been his talent for slashing through the defense and finishing at the rim with his 7-foot-3 wingspan. During his current surge, he has shot an unconscious 26-of-35 on drives (74.3 percent).
That ability to carve his way to the hoop unfolds the rest of his game. His bump in assists has largely stemmed from slash-and-kick opportunities, and defenses are so worried about his drives that they have allowed cleaner looks from mid-range, where he has shot an improved 14-of-33.
Brandon Ingram scores 21 points, and hits a game winner in Philadelphia pic.twitter.com/Po6oWbTn0p— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 8, 2017
3) The Hornets are hurting for a win
The Lakers are catching a Charlotte squad that is 24 hours removed from falling to the four-win Bulls. Plus, the Hornets have lost six of their last seven games.
The offense has cratered during this slump, in which they are averaging only 100.0 points on a league-low 40.5 field goal percentage. They would like nothing more than to snap this skid on the one night the Lakers are in town.
To avoid this, the Lakers will need to play formidable pick-and-roll defense against a team that often thrives by letting Kemba Walker (22.6 ppg) yo-yo his way to a layup or pull-up jumper.
Walker’s penetration leads to Charlotte hitting the league’s most free throws, and Dwight Howard (Remember him?) paces a strong rebounding team with 15.5 points and 12.5 boards per night.
On a more Lakers-centric level, the purple and gold will also look to keep their turnovers in check after coughing up only 11 giveaways against the Sixers. Keeping that number low — a challenge for most of the season — will be crucial to capturing a second straight win.
Hornets: Frank Kaminsky (right ankle sprain) is day-to-day. Cody Zeller (left knee medial meniscus tear) is out.
Tip-Off: 4 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Location: Spectrum Center — Charlotte, North Carolina