Coming out of the All-Star break it was well known that the pressure would be on the Los Angeles Lakers to make a run at the playoffs. For the Lakers’ young core of Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart, it represented their first taste of games that truly matter.
With that came some concerns about whether they are capable of rising to the occasion. So far, Ingram and Kuzma have shown that they are not phased by the increased pressure in the least bit, both on and off the court.
“I can’t speak for my teammates but I think we just have to continue to worry about us,” Ingram said following the Lakers’ tough loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. “Continue to worry about our game, continue to stay connected throughout it all. I think if we stay connected we will be where we want to be at the end of the season.”
The chemistry and effort from the Lakers over the last couple of contests has certainly been better, even if the results haven’t always shown it. Though the odds aren’t great, the Lakers do still have a chance at the playoffs, and Ingram’s play is a big reason why.
In five games since the All-Star break, Ingram has looked like every bit of the potential All-Star the team believes he can be, averaging 28.4 points and 7.6 rebounds on 58 percent shooting, while also shooting 46.7 percent from deep and 75 percent at the free throw line.
For his part, Kuzma is averaging 18.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists over that same timespan. And to no one’s surprise, he completely dismissed the notion of feeling any pressure, let alone extra pressure right now.
“Not really. No. I don’t really believe in pressure,” Kuzma said. “For us, obviously we know we have to continue to win and make the right habits. The effort was there tonight, and at the end of the day that’s all you can ask for. The wins are going to come if we have the effort.”
The Lakers need those wins to come in a big way soon as they are three losses behind the Clippers and Spurs for those final two playoff spots. One thing that has been evident however, is that these young Lakers are thriving when it matters most.
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