Ingram, Defense Fuel Lakers' Third Straight Win
The crux of the Lakers’ half-court offense revolved around one man: a red-hot Brandon Ingram.
With the defensively elite San Antonio Spurs limiting the Lakers’ fast-break attack, Ingram carried the offense with 26 points toward a 93-81 victory — L.A.’s third in a row.
“He pretty much is the offense: We give him the ball and get out of the way,” Lonzo Ball said. “It’s going to be a bucket. He scores pretty easily. That’s his game.”
The Spurs — second in the NBA in defensive efficiency — were able to limit a Lakers squad that had scored 42 and 35 fast-break points in their last two games, respectively.
The purple and gold still managed 12 points on the break (around league average), but it wasn’t the type of burst that they had become accustomed to.
So with the pace slowed down, Ingram went to work flashing just about every weapon in his arsenal.
He hit 11 shots on the night: five on mid-range jumpers, four going to the basket and two 3-pointers.
He even included a slick, looping finger roll after putting his defender into the popcorn machine.
Pump fake into the finger roll. Brandon Ingram was scoring from everywhere tonight.— Joey Ramirez (@JoeyARamirez) January 12, 2018
5 buckets off mid-range jumpers, 4 going to the basket and a pair of 3-pointers, all toward 26 points. pic.twitter.com/s4oJoCEq5n
Aware of Ingram’s gifted slashing ability, the Spurs (28-15) placed emphasis on making it difficult for him to get to the rim. Instead, they offered him a handful of pull-up jumpers, and he gladly accepted.
“Just reading the defense, trying to be better off of instincts,” Ingram said. “Whether guys are far back or too close (so) I can drive around them, I’m just trying to read the defense and make the best play.”
While Ingram certainly provided plenty of his own offense, he also did more playmaking than his three assists would suggest.
The 20-year-old peppered in hockey assists and passes that led to misses on open looks or free throws — a welcome sign for coach Luke Walton.
“There’s some people that are straight scorers, (and) Brandon is not one of them,” Walton said. “He’s a player that can score a lot, but he’s also a very good playmaker.
“The way he can handle pick-and-rolls, his vision on the court — we want him taking what the defense gives him.”
Some nice playmaking from Brandon Ingram that won't go down as assists.— Joey Ramirez (@JoeyARamirez) January 12, 2018
Wide-open 3-point look, hockey assist and free throw assist. pic.twitter.com/UVIVJTJkYU
Grinding Out the W
While Ingram provided the firepower, Ball organized the troops.
The rookie point guard had another game of providing some of everything, finishing with 18 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and four steals.
Ball — whom Walton called “the guy that gets the whole thing moving” — also continued his hot shooting with four 3-pointers on seven attempts.
But for all of Ingram and Ball’s impact, the Lakers (14-27) also needed a third big performance due to cold nights by several of their most reliable scorers: Kyle Kuzma (3-of-12), Jordan Clarkson (2-of-8), Brook Lopez (1-of-5) and Julius Randle (0-of-6).
Enter Larry Nance Jr., who contributed on both ends of the floor with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Half of his boards came on the offensive side, where he also threw down a stadium-shaking alley-oop.
“Larry might have been our most valuable player today,” Walton said. “… From the first time he checked in to leaving him in for the entire rest of the second half, he was putting out fires on defense. He was guarding bigger players, just all over the place.”
Part of Nance’s workload included covering five-time all-star LaMarcus Aldridge, who was coming off back-to-back 30-point games.
Aldridge scored a team-high 20 points, but could not take over, shooting 6-of-15. He also didn’t have enough aid with Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker and Danny Green all out due to injuries.
As Nance led the way, the Lakers’ defense came away with 15 steals and held their visitors to 40.8 percent shooting.
San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich was unsurprisingly frustrated with his team’s “pathetic performance,” though he also dealt credit to the Lakers’ aggression.
“They were very physical — much more physical than we were,” Popovich said. “Their desire was at a totally different level than ours was.They sustained that effort, that physicality for the entire game.”
The Lakers held the Spurs to an opponent-season-low 15 points in the first quarter. … Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led L.A. with five steals. … The Lakers shot just 41.4 percent. … A crowd of 18,997, including Adam Levine and Kenley Jansen, sold out STAPLES Center.