As the Los Angeles Lakers have been mired in a six-year stretch of missing the playoffs, the team accumulated draft picks and completed trades that in some part led to adding Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart to the organization.
They formed what became affectionately known as the Lakers’ young core and were expected to be part of the franchise’s turnaround. However, their time together came to an end last summer when the Lakers packaged Ball, Ingram and Hart to the New Orleans Pelicans for Anthony Davis.
More than one month after Davis returned to New Orleans for the first time since the trade, Ball, Hart and Ingram faced the Lakers at Staples Center on Friday. Unlike the hostile environment Davis encountered at Smoothie King Arena, Ball and Ingram were largely cheered during lineup introductions.
Bit of a mixed reaction for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram received cheers. pic.twitter.com/s14mqYM1WU
— Matthew Moreno (@MMoreno1015) January 4, 2020
The duo, along with Hart, also received light applause when taking the court for pregame warmups. They returned to L.A. with the Pelicans in the midst of a season-best four-game winning streak.
“They do have to try to channel their emotions and try to think about just playing good solid basketball against a great basketball team,” Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry said his advice was to the former Lakers.
“You don’t want to try to get yourself outside the box. And they’ve [been focused]. I think Lonzo is playing exactly the way we anticipated him playing. Ingram has been great and Josh has been great off the bench.
“I think what they have to do is try to remember the way that they’ve played up to this point and not try to do anything other than maintaining what they’re doing and stay within what we’re trying to do.”
When the Lakers and Pelicans last met, Ingram struggled from the floor but finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Hart also provided a physical presence off the bench, which included colliding with Davis and causing him to go down and grab at his elbow in pain.