With Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram out for the remainder of the season, LeBron James’ minutes being closely monitored, and Tyson Chandler and Lance Stephenson missing time of late, head coach Luke Walton and Los Angeles Lakers have been relied on players with minimal experience.
It’s led to extended opportunities for two-way player Alex Caruso, and Moritz Wagner and Johnathan Williams, both of whom saw more time with the South Bay Lakers in the G League prior to this recent stretch. Additionally, the Lakers signed Andre Ingram to a 10-day contract.
Caruso, Wagner and Williams were factors in the Lakers’ recent comeback bid against the Denver Nuggets, and they followed that up with inspired efforts of a loss to the Boston Celtics. Walton has made it clear he’s willing to call on players from deep on his bench if necessary.
He reiterated that stance after the Lakers’ loss to the Toronto Raptors, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“We’re trying to just keep groups going that are competing. I thought we had good groups, energy-wise, that were out there tonight. With the injuries we have and LeBron being on a minutes — watching his minutes — we’ve got to get creative with some of our lineups and making sure we have groups out there that give us a chance to win still. Ultimately, we’re trying to get a win each and every time out.”
Caruso finished with a career-high 16 points in the loss, as he played well alongside James. Caruso also shared the court with Josh Hart, Ingram and Williams during various stretches as Walton went with various lineup combinations.
Despite the unfamiliarity with some of the groupings, the Lakers were competitive throughout much of the game. Their downfalls arguably were going 7-for-31 behind the arc and failing to secure a defensive rebound on multiple key possessions.