Brandon Ingram coming back from a four-game suspension forced Luke Walton to make an interesting adjustment to the starting lineup. Walton went with Ingram and Kyle Kuzma along with Lonzo Ball, JaVale McGee and LeBron James, with Josh Hart going back to the bench as the Lakers lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minneapolis, 124-120.
The game was a close affair throughout. Butler got insanely hot from deep in the fourth and the Lakers weren’t able to create enough offense to keep up, struggling to find the balance of relying on James (who admittedly didn’t play well down the stretch) and creating enough egalitarian flow in their offense.
Ingram looked good in his return to the lineup, but continued a theme that dates back all the way to preseason, where almost all of his production came when he and James weren’t sharing the floor.
Ingram finished with 24 points, 3 blocks and 5 rebounds on 8-17 shooting — including his first three 3-pointers of the year — but this is starting to become a theme we can’t ignore. Here’s a snapshot of what I’m talking about, via our own Coach Svete.
Brandon Ingram in the First Half— Laker Film Room (@LakerFilmRoom) October 30, 2018
6:22 with LeBron on the court = 0 points
7:03 with LeBron off the court = 17 points
Walton can always stagger Ingram and James’ minutes, but you probably want to have your two best players able to play at the same time. Ingram also dealt with foul trouble for much of the game, though that probably has a lot to do with having to defend Jimmy Butler.
Lonzo Ball had his second-straight disappointing game. It’s one thing to watch his shot come and go, but when he just floats around the court, he actively hurts what the Lakers try to do with him on the court. They rely heavily on the chaos he creates (especially defensively) and when he isn’t out there disrupting the opposing team, the Lakers struggle to get enough stops to play with the pace they’ve been trying to this year. He finished as a team-worst -11.
Hart is also worth keeping an eye on so long as the Lakers roll with the starting lineup Walton trotted out there Monday night. He finished with 24 minutes, but he is one of the few Lakers who really fit naturally next to LeBron. He needs to spend as much time with James as possible, and if he isn’t starting, figuring out the math to make that work can get complicated.
The Lakers play Wednesday night against the Dallas Mavericks for a Halloween event at Staples Center. Tipoff for that game is 7:30 PM.