On Wednesday night, the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Dallas Mavericks, 103-93, behind 20 points and 10 rebounds from Julius Randle, while Lonzo Ball went down injured with a knee contusion and did not return to finish the game.
After nearly a month on the sidelines, Brandon Ingram returned to the starting lineup, and the forward looked a tad bit rusty, which should have been expected considering the 20-year-old hadn't played since Mar. 1 in Miami. Ingram committed three turnovers in 12 first half minutes, though the versatile forward made three of his four shots and drained his only three-point attempt before going to the locker room.
"He looked really good," Lakers coach Luke Walton said about Ingram after the game. "It was nice having him back out there. I thought his timing was a little off in the first half, but I thought the second half was good."
Ingram eventually finished the night with 13 points, six rebounds and four assists, and the Kinston, North Carolina native did not commit any turnovers in the second half.
Brook Lopez led the way for the home team early on, as the veteran center tabbed 17 points to lead all scorers in the first half. Eventually, Lopez finished with a game-high 22 points.
For the Mavs, Dennis Smith Jr. scored 14 points prior to the intermission, and the Lakers trailed by a point at the break, 56-55.
In the third quarter, the Lakers fell behind by 13 points and looked to be losing their grip on the game. As LA made a run to stay in the game, Ball hobbled off with a left knee contusion for his last action of the night.
"I think it's just a bruise on the back of the leg, and I think I should be okay," Ball said after the game, though a precautionary MRI was planned for Thursday.
When Ball exited the contest, the Lakers trailed by eight points. Three minutes later, they led by one with Randle leading the comeback charge and putting together an impressive stretch of play.
In that final period, Walton looked to Ingram to play as more of a point guard with Ball not available. Meanwhile, the Mavericks opted not to play any starters in the fourth quarter and even went away from recognizable bench players like Yogi Ferrell, Nerlens Noel and Doug McDermott down the stretch.
As a reminder, the Mavericks are incentivized to lose games due to the NBA's draft lottery system. Dallas holds the fifth worst record in the NBA, so the Mavericks playing the fourth quarter exclusively with backups should not have come as a shock.
Consequently, Dallas only scored 12 points in the fourth quarter and lost the game by 10 points. Everyone in attendance received a voucher for two free tacos, and Lakers coach Luke Walton celebrated his 38th birthday with a win.
Next, the Lakers host the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night.