Here is what you need to know before the Lakers matinee against the Dallas Mavericks.
1) Ingram is cookin’
It’s been a steamy week for Brandon Ingram, who has scored 20-plus points in three of four games, averaging 20.8 in this stretch.
The 20-year-old has hit a blistering 60.0 percent of his shots over this stretch, and has done so by thriving at all three scoring levels.
Ingram has used his trademark length and finishing ability to shoot 10-of-14 on layups. He has taken advantage when defenses surrender the mid-range, hitting 8-of-11 pull-up jumpers. And his stroke from deep has been hot, going 7-of-11 on 3-pointers after missing all of his previous nine attempts.
And all the while, the small forward has made strides as a secondary playmaker, averaging 4.8 assists over the past week.
Ingram thrived at the beginning of the season almost exclusively because of his gift for driving to the hoop. As defenses have adjusted to his game, developing his jumper and passing as counters will be crucial.
And if the last four games are a preview of what’s to come, he is going to be a problem for defenses for years.
2) Nance is putting in work
The starting frontcourt of Julius Randle and Brook Lopez has been an overall success for the Lakers, but when as duo shot just 1-of-11 from the field against San Antonio on Thursday, L.A. turned to Larry Nance Jr.
Like Ingram, Nance has hit his stride recently, putting up 12.3 points and 8.7 rebounds over his last three games while shooting 16-of-21 from the field — mostly by waiting for playmakers to find him cutting to the hoop.
He put forth one of his best efforts yet in the win over the Spurs, notching a double-double while anchoring a defense that largely kept a red-hot LaMarcus Aldridge in check (20 points on 6-of-15 shooting).
Yet Nance’s chief contribution may have been his ability to extend possessions by battling on the offensive glass. The Lakers scored on each of his five offensive rebounds, giving L.A. an extra 11 points in a win by a dozen.
Oh, and he also had his teammates raising the roof after jet-packing up for a monster fast-break alley-oop.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 12, 2018
3) Lakers are looking to get the Mavs off their backs
For whatever combination of reasons, the Lakers have not been able to figure out the Mavericks over the last four years, losing 14 in a row to Dallas.
At first glance, the Lakers — winners of three straight — should have a good shot against the 15-28 Mavs, but their hosts have also been hot lately.
Dallas has won six of their last nine games thanks to an electric offense that has the league’s second-best offensive rating over this stretch (113.3).
The formula has good playmaking, few turnovers and a ton of 3-pointers.
Harrison Barnes is steadily good for 20-plus points a night. Wesley Matthews and Yogi Ferrell have been bombarding from deep. Dwight Powell is the league’s most efficient pick-and-roll big.
Longtime Lakers nuisance J.J. Barea has been effective driving the offense as the backup point guard, but the x-factor is starter Dennis Smith Jr.
The rookie hasn’t been efficient with his shot (or layups) this season, but has been grooving recently on a seven-game streak of double-digit scoring.
Mavericks: Seth Curry (stress reaction, left tibia), Dorian Finney-Smith (left knee quadriceps tendinitis) and Nerlens Noel (left thumb surgery) are out.
Tip-Off: 11 a.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Location: American Airlines Center — Dallas, Texas