Brandon Ingram vs. Dallas
Brandon Ingram handles the ball against the Dallas Mavericks on Jan. 7, 2019.
(Ty Nowell/Los Angeles Lakers)

Ingram, Ball Respond to Walton's Challenge, Lead Lakers' Comeback

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

About 24 hours after their head coach called for “more fight” and “some passion and fire” out of them, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball gave their thunderous answer.

Both young players turned in one of the best games of the season, rallying the Lakers from a 15-point deficit to a 107-97 victory in Dallas.

“We’re competitors,” Ball said. “Obviously if your head coach expects more of you, you bring it to the table. And I thought we did pretty good tonight.”

An understated evaluation of an overwhelming night.

Ingram poured in a season-high 29 points with six assists, while Ball racked up 21 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

It was a needed response considering how the Lakers were blown out in Minnesota the game before. Ingram and Ball combined to shoot just 5-of-20, as L.A. fell by 22, prompting coach Luke Walton to challenge his pair of second-overall picks.

“That’s what we need to bring to the table every night,” Walton said. “And when they do, they’re really, really good at basketball.”

Ingram and Ball’s ascension was particularly key considering that the Lakers were playing their sixth straight game without LeBron James, and they had struggled mightily since he went down with a left groin strain.

“I don’t like losing,” Ball said. “We were 1-5 [without James] until this point. It was kind of like a must-win today. B.I. and I had a good talk last night, both came out ready.”

While Ingram admitted to wanting to keep their chat private, he was glad to dish about Ball’s night. After going scoreless the day before, Lonzo hit four 3-pointers and helped steer the team in the right direction on both sides of the floor.

“Our point guard’s our leader, and he makes everything happen,” Ingram said. “Tonight he did a really, really good job of pushing the pace, and he got us into all our sets. When he did that, I think guys followed.”

Ingram was another key to the Lakers’ fast-break attack, as half of his 12 buckets came in transition.

On one of the best slashing nights of his young career, he put his long strides and branch-like arms to good use attacking the basket, as he shot 10-of-11 in the restricted area.

“It starts with us, especially when Bron and [Rajon] Rondo are out,” Ball said. “If we don’t come out ready to play, the whole team’s gonna feed off that.”

It looked grim for a while, as the Lakers entered halftime down by 13 against a Mavericks squad with a 15-3 home record.

But L.A. (22-19) came storming back from there, overwhelming Dallas with a 32-13 third quarter.

The Lakers put the locks on their hosts in the second half. After scoring 67 points in the first half, the Mavericks (18-22) were held to 30 in the second.

Over those final two quarters, Dallas shot just 25.9 percent from the field and 2-of-19 on 3-pointers.

“Second half we got into them, [were] aggressive a little bit more,” Ball said.

Josh Hart was a key component of this. Not only did he pack the stat sheet with 14 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and a career-high five steals, he provided invaluable defense while sitting only four minutes of game time.

“We needed all those minutes from him,” Walton said.

Kyle Kuzma added that Hart was the Lakers’ “key to the game,” while praising the way that Ingram and Ball stepped up.

“Big-time response,” Kuzma said. “Basketball and life are all about how you respond to negative things or bad outings. They did an excellent job.”

Notes
Kuzma returned from a two-game absence due to a back contusion, but shot just 4-of-20 from the field. … Michael Beasley scored 13 points in nine minutes, on 5-of-6 shooting. … The Lakers had a 34-5 advantage in fast-break points. … Second-overall pick Luka Doncic led Dallas with 27 points and eight rebounds.

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