(Photo By: Ty Nowell/Lakers.com)
Lakers vs. Clippers: 3 Things to Know (12/29/17)
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers face the LA Clippers.
1) B.I. is making some noise
After missing two games due to injury, Brandon Ingram returned to his aggressive ways on Tuesday, leading the Lakers with 23 points. He even left some scoring on the table in that loss to Memphis, shooting just 5-of-11 at the foul line.
It has been a season of growth for Ingram, who plays with infinitely more confidence than his rookie year.
He is averaging about seven more points this season (16.3), has doubled his free throw attempt to 5.5 and boosted his assists by a dime a game (3.3).
This offensive success has bloomed from his ability to attack the basket, as he is currently averaging the NBA’s 10th-most points per game off drives (7.4).
But the 20-year-old has also flashed some improvement with his jumper, including a pair of slick turnaround fadeaways in his last outing.
2) Speed and sharing are the keys
The Lakers play at the NBA’s fastest pace (104.1 possessions per game), but their last two contests have been among their five slowest of the season. The common thread: the absence of Lonzo Ball.
The Lakers’ point guard is out with a sprained shoulder, and the team will need to find a way to replicate his pace-pushing ways.
Another hallmark of Ball’s game has been his unselfish playmaking, as he ranks seventh in the NBA in assists (7.1). Meanwhile, the Lakers had a season-low 14 assists when their ball movement broke down in Wednesday’s loss to Memphis.
While players like Kyle Kuzma can occasionally simulate Lonzo’s full-court outlet passes (see below), it will take a team-wide effort to get back to the pace and passing that typically lead to better odds at victory.
3) The Lakers don’t want another intracity letdown
Having lost their first two meetings against the Clippers, the Lakers are looking for some revenge against a team that could be returning leading scorer Blake Griffin, who missed the last month due to injury.
With Griffin out, DeAndre Jordan’s rebounding production has swelled to 15.2 boards a game — on pace for the NBA’s best season average in seven years.
And former Laker Lou Williams has taken up the scoring mantle, dropping 30-plus points in two of his last three contests.
The Lakers have seen his damage up close, both for and against them.
Most recently, Williams went off for a season-high 42 points against the purple and gold last month. The Lakers will need to chase him off the 3-point arc and not fall for his foul-drawing tricks. But even that may not be enough against such a flammable scorer.
The Williams-Jordan pick-and-roll was an issue for the Lakers in their last meeting, so they will need to figure that out and play strong, communicative team defense to make sure Williams stays in check.
Lakers: Lonzo Ball (left shoulder sprain) and Brook Lopez (right ankle sprain) are out. Kyle Kuzma (quad contusion) is questionable.
Clippers: Blake Griffin (sprained left MCL) and Wesley Johnson (left foot soreness) are TBD. Danilo Gallinari (partial tear, right glute) and Patrick Beverley (torn meniscus) are out.
Tip-Off: 7:30 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Location: Staples Center — Los Angeles, California