Grizzlies Spoil Ingram's 23-Point Return
After missing the Lakers’ last two games, Brandon Ingram returned to the court in full stride, leading his team with 23 points against Memphis.
However, his teammates could not conjure up similar success, as the Lakers shot just 37.6 percent from the field in a 109-99 loss.
Ingram — who was out with a quad contusion and quad tendinitis — went right back to attacking the teeth of the defense, driving to the cup for the majority of his offense.
He also mixed in some mid-range shooting, including a pair of sweet fadeaway jumpers.
Ingram got to the line and made plays for others, but both of those areas were marred by mistakes. He shot just 5-of-11 on free throws and had four assists but five turnovers.
While they were certainly happy to have Ingram back, the Lakers (11-22) could have used Lonzo Ball, who missed his second straight game with a sprained shoulder.
As point guard, Ball is responsible for pushing the Lakers’ pace to the fastest in the NBA. However, with him out the game speed tilted toward Memphis’ league-slowest pace.
“Tonight we played a game of half-court (style), and that’s not our game,” Ingram said. “We push the pace, we average a lot of fast-break points in this league. I think that’s just what we’ve got to get back to.”
Coach Luke Walton also highlighted that the Grizzlies (11-24) were notably physical in the paint.
No player felt this more than Kyle Kuzma, who entered the night averaging 27.8 points in his last five games, but finished with only nine points on an unsightly 4-of-24 shooting with zero free throw attempts.
With former Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol patrolling the rim, Kuzma had five of his shots blocked in the paint.
And (after playing 40-plus minutes in four of his last five appearances), his legs appeared tired on his jumper, as he went just 1-of-11 from 3-point range.
Kuzma considered fatigue an “excuse,” while his coach spoke to the value of contributing in other ways when his shot isn’t falling.
“He’s obviously been shooting, playing, scoring lights out, and you’re going to have off nights,” Walton said. “It’s part of the reason I’m always trying to stay on him about how important the rest of the game is.
“Being a playmaker, being an offensive stopper so when you do have off nights, there are still positive ways you can affect your team and win ball games.”
Walton also felt that the Lakers didn’t make the extra pass often enough, as seen by their season-low 14 assists. Kuzma had a simpler explanation.
“We would’ve had a lot more assists if I had made some shots,” he said.
Despite those team-wide shooting struggles, the Lakers were able to hang around thanks to their presence on the glass, as they hauled in a season-high 22 offensive rebounds, including five apiece from Larry Nance Jr. and Andrew Bogut, and four from Josh Hart.
This helped the Lakers tie the game heading into the fourth quarter. But then Tyreke Evans provided Memphis 11 of his 35 points. The Grizzlies’ leading scorer had 14 points off free throws alone and added seven rebounds and seven assists.
Brandon Ingram leads the team in scoring with 23 points, but the Lakers drop this one to the Grizzlies, 99-109. pic.twitter.com/5p6PHA5fAX— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 28, 2017
The Lakers wore their Minneapolis throwback uniforms. … Jordan Clarkson scored 22 points, shooting well from 3-point range (5-of-9), but poorly on twos (2-of-8). … Jarell Martin had 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting for Memphis. … The Lakers shot just 5-of-20 in the first quarter. … An audience of 18,997 sold out STAPLES Center.