LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Lakers grabbed their seventh straight home win on Tuesday night in a 112-93 win over the Phoenix Suns.
It was another complete team effort that saw Brandon Ingram lead the way offensively as the primary scorer with a game-high 26 points on an efficient 9-of-12 shooting from the field while drilling both his attempts from beyond the arc. This marked his 13th game this season where he has cracked more than 20 points.
Ingram had his fingerprints all over the game that saw him help turn the tided in the Lakers’ favor in the third quarter with 12 points in the period on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting from the field. It included a vicious one-hand dunk over Suns forward Marquese Chriss that set the tone for his play in the quarter.
However, it has been the passing part of the 20-year-old’s game that has helped him make a bigger impact on the floor. Ingram has been playing more of a pseudo point guard spot racking up five assists, which was the fifth time in the last six games that he has reached that mark with his first 10-assist output of the year.
He has picked up more of a facilitator’s role to help compensate for the absence of rookie point guard Lonzo Ball, who has been out of the lineup since Jan. 13. His all-around play offensively with the ball in his hands as of late is something that head coach Luke Walton believes Ingram has embraced and excelled in much sooner than he expected.
“I told him my vision for him as a player is that every time he has the ball, he needs to put pressure on the other team’s defense. defense when he has the ball,” Walton said. “That doesn’t mean scoring and shooting 37 shots. He should be getting into the paint and we shouldn’t have to run any plays. He should get in the paint and we should get 3s from him kicking out.
“He has embraced that and done a much better job of it. I knew he could do this job. I just didn’t know he would do it so quickly when asked to take that added responsibility.”
The improvement in Ingram’s play has been noticeable for his teammates like veteran center Brook Lopez, who has also been impressed by his performance on the court.
“It’s been impressive just watching him learn as he goes,” Lopez said. “The transition has been surprisingly seamless and smooth. He’s such a talented player and he has such an unselfish mentality. I guess when you look at it that way it’s not that surprising. He’s just done so much for us lately leading us on the floor in that position.”
With there still not being a timetable for Ball’s return as he’s still experiencing pain in his knee from a sprained MCL, Ingram could be seeing much more time ahead in this increased role. There could provide him plenty more time to show his growth and give even more reason for optimism for his and the Lakers’ future ahead.