Lakers forward Brandon Ingram gets ready to check into the game as he and Coach Luke Walton react to a play against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday. (Harry How / Getty Images)
Brandon Ingram wasn’t among the players who lacked energy and effort at the beginning of the Lakers’ 133-109 loss to the Clippers on Tuesday night.
But he was part of a starting lineup that did as a whole. Coach Luke Walton wasn’t interested in singling out anyone, so the whole group had to pay for their overall lethargy.
“That’s part of [his] responsibility to make sure everyone’s ready to play,” Walton said. “I thought he was really good last night. It’s unfair that it happens for him the way he was playing, but I thought it was important to keep the message. This is about team first and individual second.”
Walton benched his entire starting lineup for the start of the second half against the Clippers. With Ingram, D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Ivica Zubac and Julius Randle seated, David Nwaba, Tyler Ennis, Tarik Black, Corey Brewer and Thomas Robinson began the third quarter.
Ingram and Zubac both had 10 first-half points, but the Lakers trailed 70-40 at halftime.
“He told us that’s unacceptable to come out like that and I think it was embarrassing for us to be down like that,” Ingram said. “It’s just something that can’t happen.”
Ingram’s development isn’t just about what he does on the court. He has played well lately, having scored 10 or more points in nine consecutive games.
But as Walton works to develop his team, he’s also looking for a player who can become a dominant leader, one who has the credibility and willingness to rebuke his teammates for poor showings.
Part of his message to the soft-spoken Ingram Tuesday night had to do with that idea.
“That’s more of a way to get Brandon to be more vocal, which he has slowly been getting,” Walton said. “Embrace more of a leadership role. As a way to kind of say, look, even if you’re playing good yourself, we need more out of you. We need you grabbing someone by the jersey. We need you lifting your teammates up.”
Adjusting to minutes
Zubac played 35 minutes and 50 seconds Tuesday night. While that was far from a team high, it was his own personal season high for minutes.
He scored 17 points, making eight of 14 field goals with seven rebounds and three assists.
“Every player wants to play as much as he can,” the rookie said. “I’m ready for as many minutes Coach gives me. If it’s 30, if it’s 10, I’m going to be ready.”
Zubac has played 20 or more minutes in 11 games this season.
This month, he is averaging 13.0 points on 62% shooting, 5.5 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 1.4 assists per game.
Center Timofey Mozgov is used only in case of emergencies right now, but he might not even be available for that for Friday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Mozgov suffered a left ankle sprain toward the end of Wednesday’s practice. He is questionable for Friday’s game.
Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli