Brandon Ingram handles the ball against the San Antonio Spurs on Jan. 11, 2018.
(Ty Nowell/Lakers.com)

Winning Plays: Ingram, Ball and Nance Step Up Versus Spurs

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

In the first two legs of the Lakers’ three-game win streak, the purple and gold dusted their opponents in transition, scoring 42 and 35 fast-break points.

But, against the San Antonio Spurs’ second-ranked defense, they were held to a much slower pace, scoring only 12 points on the break.

Nonetheless, the Lakers managed to turn one of their weaknesses, half-court scoring, into a strength in their 93-81 win.

Brandon Ingram was the focal point of this, scoring 26 points on 11-of-21 shooting.

What was most encouraging about the 20-year-old’s performance was his ability to score at all three levels, hitting five shots from mid-range, four attacking the rim and two 3-pointers.

“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.”

Knowing Ingram’s ability to attack the paint with his length, the Spurs dropped their defense back and gave him open looks at mid-range jumpers. He missed a handful of them, but largely made San Antonio pay, as he has shot 57.7 percent on pull-up J’s over his last 15 games.

“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.”

And when he sensed a path to the cup, Ingram attacked. His scoring moves included a slick hesitation dribble, vicious rip-through and rainbow finger roll — all advanced coursework for a second-year pro.

And while his assist total of three didn’t quite show it, Ingram also did a nice job creating opportunities for others, with a potential assist, hockey assist and free throw assist all in the first quarter.

But the chief distributor on the night was Lonzo Ball, who had 18 points and all six of his assists in the half court.

The rookie point guard continues to make spectacular feeds part of his routine.

For the second straight game, he set up for a jump shot to draw the defense before whipping the ball across the court to a teammate.

On another play he looked like a second baseman catching the ball with one hand and immediately zipping it to an open shooter.

That second play of Lonzo’s also showed why coach Luke Walton thought Larry Nance Jr. “might have been our most valuable player” against the Spurs.

Nance fought hard on the defense end while also putting in work offensively with a double-double that included five offensive rebounds, which were key in the Lakers’ 12-2 advantage in second-chance points.

The leaper used his superior athleticism, endurance and timing to earn the Lakers’ extra possessions that helped make the difference.

On one particular play, he essentially tossed San Antonio’s point guard aside, giving the Lakers a lead they would never surrender.

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