LeBron James, Lakers Destroy Grizzlies 111-88; Lonzo Ball Struggles

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistDecember 9, 2018

MEMPHIS, TN - DECEMBER 8: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots the ball against the Memphis Grizzlies on December 8, 2018 at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers bounced back from Friday's loss to the San Antonio Spurs with a 111-88 win over the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum on Saturday night.

LeBron James spearheaded L.A.'s effort with 20 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, while Lonzo Ball finished with four points (2-of-9 shooting), two assists and three turnovers.

The Lakers are now 16-10 overall, while the Grizzlies dropped to 15-10 as they saw their two-game winning streak snapped.

     

Josh Hart Deserves Full-Time Starting Job over Brandon Ingram

Relegating a top draft pick to the bench is always a tough sell simply based on the stigmas that accompany such drastic demotions.

But in the case of Brandon Ingram, the Lakers may be best-served shifting the former No. 2 overall selection to the bench once he returns from a sprained left ankle that is expected to sideline him at least a week, according to the Los Angeles Times' Tania Ganguli.

Saturday showed exactly why.

While Ingram hasn't done anything himself to facilitate the move, Josh Hart once again showcased that his ability to space the floor harbors tremendous value for a Lakers team that entered the night shooting a 21st-ranked 34.4 percent from deep.

All told, the former Villanova standout poured in 16 points on 5-of-10 shooting (4-of-7 from three) along with four rebounds and a team-high three steals.

But the case goes beyond those numbers.

Prior to Saturday's tilt, the unit comprised of Hart, Lonzo Ball, LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma and JaVale McGee owned the top net rating (plus-6.7 points per 100 possessions) of any Lakers lineup with at least 50 minutes played, according to NBA.com's lineup data.

Swap Ingram in for Hart, and that group has managed a paltry point differential of plus-0.2 points per 100 possessions.

Also consider Ingram is shooting 32.4 percent from three compared to Hart's 37.8 percent, and it's hardly an outlandish discussion.

The optics understandably wouldn't be ideal for Ingram, especially during what was supposed to be a breakout campaign. But with more responsibility running the second unit, it stands to reason he could have the freedom to finally flourish while Hart plays the ancillary role he was built for in the starting five.

     

What's Next?

Both squads will be back in action Monday. The Lakers will host the Miami Heat, while the Grizzlies are headed to Pepsi Center for a meeting with the Denver Nuggets.

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