Here is what you need to know before the Lakers aim to beat Phoenix for the third time this season.
1) Ingram regained his aggressiveness in a career night
Though the Lakers beat the Suns in the beginning of the week, Brandon Ingram wasn’t much of a factor, shooting just 2-of- from the field. While it was one of the quietest nights of the sophomore’s season, he bounced back in a huge way.
Ingram was much more assertive in Wednesday’s loss to Philadelphia, racking up 26 points and 11 rebounds for career-highs in both categories.
As with most of his top scoring nights, Ingram opened up his game by using his length to drive to the hoop. Once established, he started drilling mid-range jumpers — a development that could pay dividends if made consistent.
Ingram already has one big game against the Suns this season — a 25-point performance in Phoenix — and their bottom-three defense gives him a nice opportunity of repeating.
It was the 27th pick’s fifth 20-point night, tying him with Donovan Mitchell for most among rookies.
Like Ingram, Kuzma punished Philadelphia’s interior defense, as eight of his nine baskets came at or around the rim.
But it was hardly a surprising performance for the player considered by many to be the steal of the draft.
Kuzma is far outpacing the expectations of a late first-rounder, ranking third among rookies in scoring (15.5), fourth in rebounds (6.8) and second in double-doubles (four).
3) Phoenix is hurting for a win
It has been a rough fortnight for the Suns, who have lost seven of their last eight games, including to the Lakers on Monday.
Like L.A., Phoenix has been unable to hit 3-pointers, ranking among the NBA’s bottom five in made triples and percentage.
The difference is that the Lakers have competed on the defensive side of the floor (ranking fourth in the NBA) while the Suns have not (28th).
However, though Phoenix surrendered a historic 90-point first half to Houston last night, they still have the offensive firepower to give the Lakers some problems.
Devin Booker averaged 30.5 points in his first two games against L.A., can score from pretty much anywhere on the floor and is 15th in the NBA in points per game.
His backcourt mate, T.J. Warren, is one of the league’s best slashers, and Milwaukee import Greg Monroe had 20 points and 11 rebounds in his Suns debut yesterday.
Like the Lakers, Phoenix loves to get out and run, with the second-fastest pace in the NBA.
Between that tempo, Booker’s scoring and the team’s knack for getting to the foul line, the Suns may be slumping but are capable of making this a shootout.
Lakers: Larry Nance Jr. (fractured second metacarpal, left hand) is out.
Suns: Tyson Chandler (illness) is questionable. Jared Dudley (right knee contusion), Derrick Jones Jr. (G League assignment), Brandon Knight (left ACL tear), Alan Williams (right meniscus repair) and Davon Reed (left meniscus repair) are out.