With LeBron James and Rajon Rondo sidelined for Thursday's game against the Sacramento Kings — and possibly for more games in the near future — Brandon Ingram says it's time for him to resume the type of role he played last season for the Los Angeles Lakers.
"It's an opportunity," Ingram said after shootaround Thursday, leading up to the game against the Kings. "It's an opportunity for me to go out there and play my game a little bit more. I think I'm going to be a little bit more ball-dominant, cutting off the basketball. I have to play even better defense and be on the help side on the defensive end. So it's a chance for me to just up my game a little bit."
Ingram, 21, is averaging 15.5 points, 4 rebounds and 2.2 assists in the 23 games he has played this season. He missed 11 games because of a sprained ankle and the suspension he served for his role in a melee versus the Houston Rockets.
Last season, as a second-year player, he averaged 16.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists while shooting 39 percent from 3-point range, compared to just 31 percent from 3 this season.
Yet last season the Lakers didn't win their 20th game until Feb. 2. This season, they secured it Christmas Day with a rousing 127-101 victory over the Golden State Warriors. That is to say, if Ingram's personal stats have suffered at all, it has come in the service of winning games.