Lakers expect Ingram back vs. Grizzlies
LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Lakers are expected to have second-leading scorer Brandon Ingram back in the starting lineup at small forward when they host the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night at Staples Center.
Ingram, who is averaging 16 points a game, missed the past two games with a right quadriceps contusion and left quad tendinitis. He was listed as questionable on Tuesday, but he went through a full practice with no issues.
“I almost silly-fined him for looking so good and not playing last night,” Lakers coach Luke Walton told reporters after practice on Tuesday.
The Lakers lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves 121-104 on Monday night for their third straight defeat and sixth in the past seven games.
Los Angeles (11-21) will continue to be without two starters, rookie point guard Lonzo Ball and veteran center Brook Lopez.
The Lakers will be up against a Memphis team that lost 99-97 to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night. The game ended on a dunk by Tyson Chandler off an inbounds play with 0.4 second left.
Memphis leading scorer Marc Gasol (18.9) scored 18 points, but shot 4 for 16.
“They shrunk the floor,” Memphis coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “They did a really good job of putting bodies in the paint when he touched it, so we as a group have to do a better job of creating space for him.”
Ball injured his left shoulder against the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday, and an MRI revealed a sprain. He will be sidelined at least through this week. Lopez has missed the past four games with a sprained right ankle and is expected to remain out another two weeks.
Ball was enjoying his best stretch of the season when he was injured while trying to box out Portland 7-footer Jusuf Nurkic. He was averaging 17.2 points in the previous five games and shooting 47 percent to up season mark to 34.9.
The Grizzlies (10-24) continue to be without starting point guard Mike Conley (left heel), but starting power forward JaMychal Green and reserve forward Chandler Parsons should return after missing the loss in Phoenix on Tuesday.
Green, the team’s fourth-leading scorer at 9.7 points, sat out with knee soreness and Parsons, the fifth-leading scorer at 8.9 points, rested in the first game on back-to-back nights.
Another rookie in the Lakers’ starting lineup, versatile forward Kyle Kuzma, continues to elevate his play.
Kuzma is averaging 27.8 points in his past five games to lift his team-high average to 18.1. He also has shot 22-for-39 from 3-point range in those games. Kuzma already has won Western Conference Rookie of the Month honors for October and November and appears a lock for his third straight award.
“Kuzma’s competitive spirit is pretty awesome,” Walton said. “For us, and the way we want to play, we want it to come organically to him, so we’re not just running plays for him every time and things of that nature. Get within the flow of how we’re playing, how we’re pushing the ball, and I think he’s done a really nice job of that recently, making strides in that area. But for a rookie to kind of continue to play at the level he’s playing at against very good players, very good teams, playing big minutes, is impressive.”
Another rookie for the Lakers, guard Josh Hart, moved into the starting lineup in place of Ball and contributed 12 points and six rebounds in the loss to Minnesota on Monday night. Walton was particularly impressed with Hart’s aggressiveness on the boards.
“He was in there every time, just cracking people,” Walton said. “Jumping with players bigger than him and playing a physical brand of game.”