• The Lakers and Rockets engaged in a hard-fought battle Tuesday night with Los Angeles eventually falling 105-99.

    Los Angeles was once again without key players Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Isaiah Thomas. However, tonight was not about who didn’t take the court, but rather who did.

    Andre Ingram made his NBA debut after toiling in the developmental leagues for the past 10 years. After his emotional signing went viral yesterday, Laker fans were well aware of his story and greeted him with loud cheers as he entered the game. Ingram made an immediate impact, scoring 10 points in his first seven minutes, to the delight of the fans in attendance. He finished his inaugural game with 19 points, three rebounds, three blocks and one steal on 6-of-8 shooting from the field, 4-of-5 from 3-point range and 3-of-3 from the free throw line. His performance was so riveting that he earned MVP chants on one of his trips to the charity stripe.

    Josh Hart continued his stellar rookie season with 20 points, seven rebounds and two steals on 8-of-17 from the floor. He played a game-high 41 minutes and provided the team leadership, helping to keep the Lakers within striking distance throughout.

    Julius Randle played in his 81st game of the season, contributing 17 points, eight rebounds and two steals on 7-of-12 shooting. He was limited to only 18 minutes and was not afforded a late curtain call in his last home game before free agency, perhaps a sign that coach Luke Walton expects to have Randle back next season.

    Alex Caruso was outclassed all night by the Rockets’ guards but that didn’t dissuade him from playing his heart out — exemplified by his drawing a key charge with 90 seconds remaining in a meaningless game. His final stat line was indicative of his effort, chipping-in across the board with nine points, four rebounds, six assists, two steals and a plus-12 rating.

    Ivica Zubac had a rough night, chipping-in two points, five rebounds and one steal in his twenty minutes. Unfortunately, the young man was left on an island with Chris Paul on multiple occasions, getting badly embarrassed including a play when Paul dribbled between Zubac’s legs en route to a lay up.

    Paul tormented the Lakers’ guards as well, finishing with 22 points, six assists, three rebounds and one steal in only 27 minutes. He shot 9-of-14 from the field and 4-of-7 from 3-point range. He was able to dictate whatever he wanted, forcing unfavorable switches in the pick and roll, beating defenders one on one and generally looking completely unstoppable on the evening.

    Clint Capela added 10 points, 12 rebounds and one steal in his 21 minutes of action.

    Gerald Green was vital in securing the win, tallying 16 points, six rebounds and a plus-13 rating on 5-of-10 shooting from the field, 3-of-6 from 3-point range and 3-of-3 from the line.

    James Harden had a sub-par night by his standards, accruing 21 points, 10 assists, four rebounds, one steal and one block in his tenure on the court. However, he converted only 6-of-15 shots and committed six turnovers.

    This contest did not have the feel of a meaningless game; the stadium was buzzing with energy and the fans brought an intensity often reserved for playoff games. Coach Mike D’Antoni must have been influenced by the strong aura, opting to play his starters and key rotational players early into the fourth quarter, including 31 minutes for his MVP candidate Harden.

    The Rockets did suffer an injury in the game, losing important defender Luc Richard Mbah a Moute to a dislocated shoulder on a dunk attempt — he will undergo an MRI Wednesday. Houston was fortunate to avoid further injury in a game that had no bearing on their playoff standing.

    Houston is now 42-3 in games where Paul, Harden and Capela are all in the lineup.

    Key Stats and Observations

    -The Lakers amassed 35 fast break points compared to only nine for the Rockets. One factor that contributed to this disparity was the difference in steals with the Lakers holding a 14-9 edge over the Rockets.

    -Los Angeles continued their season-long dominance in the key, outscoring Houston 48-40 in the paint.

    -The key to the loss was the difference at the 3-point line where the Rockets converted 16-of-47 (34.0 percent) vs. 10-of-36 (27.8 percent) for the Lakers. The 18-point deficit for Los Angeles was the difference in a game that was otherwise statistically very close.

    -The two teams shot an almost identical percentage for the game with Houston knocking down 37-of-88 (42.0 percent) while the Lakers made 38-of-90 (42.2 percent).

    -The Lakers were unable to take advantage of 11 fourth quarter turnovers compared to five for Los Angeles — no small number. For the game, Los Angeles committed 17 miscues compared to 19 for Houston.

    Up Next

    The Lakers play their final game of the season on Wednesday at Staples Center, but this time as the road team against the Clippers.

    Ingram gets a second opportunity to shine against many of his peers as this game promises to feature each team’s second and third units extensively.

    The Lakers are not expected to get back any of their key players and the Clippers are expected to bench leading scorer Lou Williams. However, these two teams have developed a mini-rivalry and the Lakers have demonstrated that they will bring energy to every battle — this game promises to be a high intensity matchup regardless of who is on the court.

Fantasy News

  • Damian Lillard
    PG, Portland Trail Blazers

    Damian Lillard put forth a valiant effort with 29 points, seven rebounds, eight assists and two threes in Friday's 113-136 loss to the Lakers.

    Even as the Blazers continue to scuffle, Lillard is locked in as an elite fantasy talent. It's looking increasingly unlikely that the Blazers make the postseason this year but, A: Never count out Lillard and B: He doesn't seem like the kind to accept a shutdown. We're a long way off from that point, thankfully, and you can continue to enjoy first-round value in the meantime.

  • Hassan Whiteside
    C, Portland Trail Blazers

    Hassan Whiteside had another productive game with 17 points (8-for-12 shooting), 13 rebounds, three steals and a block in 32 minutes on Friday night.

    Whiteside is rolling along in fantasy land even as his on-court lapses continue to harm the Blazers. We wouldn't expect him to finish at his current top-35 standing so there's a bit of a sell-high window, though the numbers he's bringing back in blocks and rebounds might change the calculus since you probably won't be able to replace them in a trade.

  • Kent Bazemore
    SG, Portland Trail Blazers

    Kent Bazemore logged 25 minutes in Friday's loss to the Lakers, notching 10 points, two rebounds and a 3-pointer.

    Bazemore is staring at a much heavier workload with Rodney Hood now out for the season and Portland completely devoid of other viable wing options. He's been a top-100 guy in starter's minutes in the past, so he's a pickup in all competitive leagues.

  • Anthony Davis
    PF-C, Los Angeles Lakers

    Anthony Davis and LeBron James both torched the Blazers in Friday's road win.

    Davis put up 39 points (12-for-21 FG, 13-of-15 FT), nine rebounds, two steals, three blocks and a pair of 3-pointers while James had 31 points (11-of-23 FG, 5-for-7 FT), seven rebounds, eight assists, a block and four threes. They're alright at this.

  • Alex Caruso
    SG, Los Angeles Lakers

    Alex Caruso played 24 minutes on Friday night, posting eight points, three assists, a steal and a three.

    Caruso got some extra run with Rajon Rondo departing early because of hamstring tightness, and given the likelihood that he misses some time you can consider Caruso a potential pickup in deep leagues.

  • JaVale McGee
    C, Los Angeles Lakers

    JaVale McGee finished Friday's win with 13 points (6-of-7 shooting) and two blocks in 15 minutes.

    McGee isn't nearly as fun to rock with as he was last season but he's still blocking shots and boosting your field goal percentage enough to return late-round value in 12-teamers. Dwight Howard is doing the same thing with more boards and slightly fewer blocks, as he had five points, 10 rebounds and two steals tonight. Neither is a must-own in 12-team leagues.

  • Danny Green
    SG, Los Angeles Lakers

    Danny Green had a lackluster showing, to be polite about it, on Friday with a 3-pointer, five rebounds, a steal and a block in 21 minutes.

    Green is just a late-round guy and doesn't have a ton of upside given that he's only getting 25.5 mpg on the year. He's worth holding onto in general, but a drop won't hurt you that much. The same goes for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who had five points, five assists, a steal and a 3-pointer in 27 minutes.

  • Kevin Love
    PF, Cleveland Cavaliers

    Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Cavs are prepared to listen to trade talks involving Kevin Love.

    The Cavs simply have no use for Love, who can be a series-shifting player as a second or third option on a good team. Cleveland is predictably seeking young players and future draft picks, but it remains to be seen if they'll get much considering Love is still owed $90 million over the next three seasons. That's not inconsequential, and most teams in position to get pushed over the top by adding Love to the mix also don't have the ability to add such a big financial commitment to their books easily. While Love would be bumped down the pecking order on a better team, he might also end up playing more games. We won't go too much deeper than that until Love starts getting connected to specific suitors.

    Source: ESPN

  • DeMar DeRozan
    SG, San Antonio Spurs

    DeMar DeRozan's 3-point binge continued in Friday's 105-104 OT win over the Kings, as he hit three more triples on his way to 15 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and two steals.

    DeRozan has now hit five threes in his last four games after hitting zero in over a full year. That obviously won't keep up but DeRozan is back in the top-50 area after scuffling early in the year. He's about as reliable as they come.

  • Jakob Poeltl
    C, San Antonio Spurs

    Jakob Poeltl returned to the bench on Friday with LaMarcus Aldridge back but still delivered three blocks in 18 minutes.

    Poeltl also tallied 13 points on a perfect 5-of-5 from the field and a less-perfect 3-of-5 from the line. He's now climbed up to top-170 value on the year and should be on any rosters where fantasy GMs are short on blocks. In the past two weeks he's been a top-60 player.