L.A.

Lakers show continued growth in loss to Jazz

Brandon Ingram
Harry How/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES —  The Los Angeles Lakers in their final home game of the preseason, fell short against the Utah Jazz 105-99 on Tuesday night.

Despite rookie point guard Lonzo Ball still sidelined with an injury, here are a few notable takeaways from the preseason action: 

Offensive Step Forward

Through much of the preseason, second-year Brandon Ingram has struggled to find a level of consistency on the offensive end of the floor. 

This had led him to admit prior to Tuesday’s game that he has been pressing quite a bit to get things going offensively. His hard work began to pay off as he put together an encouraging performance against the Jazz scoring 13 points on 5-of-13 shooting from the field.

Ingram looked more assertive in his approach offensively finding his spots on the floor to be most effective offensively that included a pair of pull-up jumpers while also using dribble penetration to get to the rim. However, he struggled during the final few minutes of the fourth quarter where he forced up in traffic with the game in the balance. 

In spite of that, Ingram voiced confidence after the game that he can make those shots with the more experience he gathers in those key moments of a close game. 

“I just rushed a few shots,” Ingram said. “A few shots I know I can make.”

Head coach Luke Walton also echoed a similar sentiment following the game with confidence that Ingram and the rest of the team can grow from that valuable late-game experience. 

“I thought his energy and effort were great tonight,” Walton said. “Late he was forcing. I thought the experience was great.”

Kuz Control

Kyle Kuzma has kept the ball rolling in the right direction throughout the entire preseason, which saw him add another productive outing against the Jazz on Tuesday night by finishing with a team-high 18 points off the bench on 5-of-14 shooting in 30 minutes played. 

The 22-year-old has continued to show poise on the offensive end of the floor with his assertiveness when he has the ball in his hand. This was no more evident on a spin move near the top of the key in transition that allowed him to swiftly get past the defender for a wide-open lane to the rim. 

He struggled with his shot in the first making just two of his seven shot attempts but did pick it up in the final two quarters of play notching 11 pts that included a pair of 3-pointers. This has pushed up his averages in the preseason to 19.2 points with 4.0 rebounds and 1.2 assists per contest. This includes scoring in double figures while making at least five field goals in each of the first five preseason games and leads all players with 95 points scored. 

With one more preseason game left on the docket, Kuzma is hoping he can continue to tread in the right direction ahead of the start of the regular season.

“I just hope to head forward and stay diligent with my work ethic,” Kuzma said. “Continue to work hard and continue to get better.”

Defense Improving

One of the key issues that have plagued the Lakers over the last few seasons has been their play defensively, which had persisted through much of the preseason. 

However, there has been some steady improvement over the last two games in various areas on that end of the floor. Los Angeles had shown some positive signs on Tuesday night that saw them force Utah to shoot 26.9 percent from beyond the arc and commit 21 turnovers. 

The Lakers also compiled 13 total steals with Julius Randle racking up five of his own while both Jordan Clarkson and Ingram record a pair of thefts. Although there were some struggles on the end of the floor, Walton believes that these issues can be fixed internally. 

“I thought defensively we were really good tonight,” Walton said. “The things we messed up on are totally in our control. Our transition defense got bad again tonight. They took advantage of it. They hit a lot of threes and when we didn’t get back and we didn’t communicate, but that’s something that we can fix.
 
It wasn’t like they outplayed us and this and that. It was something we can fix from within and I thought we did a really good job again defensively.”

Los Angeles has one more game on the slate on Friday night against the Los Angeles Clippers to further work out the defensive kinks prior to the regular season. 

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Bob Garcia IV

Bob Garcia IV is a sports journalist from Southern California. He's currently the Los Angeles Lakers beat writer for Sports Out West. He was previously the beat writer for LA Rams Report for Scout.com, which is a website dedicated to covering the Rams. Lastly, he was a reporter for the award-winning newspaper, The Daily Sundial, at California State University, Northridge. You can follow him on Twitter, @BGarcia90.
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