Luke Walton says the Lakers will stagger Lonzo Ball, LeBron James if Brandon Ingram misses time – Silver Screen and Roll
The Los Angeles Lakers have won four games in a row after beating the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday, but unfortunately Brandon Ingram got hurt in the process. In the second quarter, Ingram suffered a sprained ankle and did not return for the second half. It’s unclear if Ingram will miss extended time, but if…
“We’re gonna have to start splitting LeBron and Zo a little more. Get one of them out a little earlier than we’d like,” Walton told reporters of how he’d handle Ingram’s absence from the rotation. “We’re gonna try and have LeBron or Zo on the court most of the game.”
Splitting up Ball and James would make sure the Lakers always have one capable ballhandler on the floor to run their offense, and while James and Ball have been playing well together and Walton said that Lance Stephenson and Svi Mykhailiuk might run some point, it’s still hard to argue the Lakers wouldn’t be better off with at least one of those players on the floor at all times.
Ingram has spent a good chunk of time playing point guard with second unit since Rajon Rondo fractured his hand last month. If Ingram is out, Ball will have to orchestrate the offense in the second unit as well.
While that’s a lot responsibility for the 21-year-old point guard, he said he’s willing to do whatever it takes to win.
“Wherever Luke puts me out there, I’m going to do what I can to help this team win,” Ball said. “I’d have the ball in my hands more initiating the offense, trying to get guys the ball in the right spots and make sure we don’t lose leads.”
Walton thinks Ball is ready for the challenge.
“Any time a young player is given more responsibility like Zo will have now with B.I. being out, it’s a great opportunity for them to get better,” Walton said. “To learn from that and take on that responsibility as a challenge. I think Zo will be up for it.”
However, there are certain things Ball can’t do that Ingram can.
Despite his struggles on offense, Ingram is a better three-level scorer than Ball, as evidenced by the 15.7 points per game he’s averaging this season. The Lakers will also miss his speed and length on defense.
While they’ve shown flashes this season, they’ve struggled to make an impact on either end of the floor with any consistency. If they can’t rise to the challenge, the second unit will struggle to score even with Ball running the show.
With their longest road trip of the season so far coming up, the Lakers can’t afford to go back on any progress they’ve made this season. It won’t be easy, but good teams respond to adversity.
You can follow this author on Twitter at @RadRivas.
Instant analysis: Three impressions from the Seahawks’ 26-23 loss to the San Francisco 49ers – Seattle Times
Doug Baldwin was resurgent in his return to the field, but the Seahawks’ secondary sorely missed injured safety Bradley McDougald. Seattle will have to wait another week to punch its playoff ticket. The Seahawks destroyed the San Francisco 49ers in Seattle two weeks ago. That wasn’t the case this time. Here are three impressions from…
Undrafted rookie quarterback Nick Mullens completed 20 of 29 passes (69 percent), throwing for 275 yards and a touchdown. That score went to tight end Garrett Celek, who was freed after Seahawks safety Tedric Thompson slipped and rumbled 41 yards into the end zone.
If this sounds somewhat familiar, that’s because Mullens also threw for 414 yards and two touchdowns against the Seahawks two weeks ago. Seattle continued to rotate multiple safeties on Sunday, as Thompson, Delano Hill and Shalom Luani all saw significant time. But regardless of who was playing, the 49ers consistently drove the football downfield.
The secondary wasn’t entirely to blame, however. The Seahawks were penalized 14 times for 148 yards in the loss. Those penalties deflated Seattle drives at the end of the fourth quarter and in overtime.
Doug Baldwin makes an immediate impact
Russell Wilson had perhaps his worst game as a Seahawk in the team’s Monday night win over Minnesota last week, completing just 10 of 20 passes for 72 yards and an interception. It was no coincidence that veteran wide receiver Doug Baldwin also missed the game with a hip injury.
The 30-year-old Baldwin — an eighth-year pro — was listed as questionable for Sunday’s game but confirmed following Friday’s walkthrough that he would play.
That he did.
Baldwin provided the entirety of the Seahawks’ first-half scoring, hauling in an over-the-shoulder 5-yard touchdown on the team’s opening drive before adding a spinning, diving 35-yard score late in the second quarter. He finished with four catches for 78 yards and two scores.
Second-year running back Chris Carson also turned in his fourth 100-yard rushing game of the season, chugging for 119 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. The most impactful yard came early in the fourth quarter, when Carson kept driving his legs and plowed through a crowd of 49ers into the end zone on fourth down.
Special teams highs and lows
It was a tale of two kickers for the Seahawks on Sunday.
Punter Michael Dickson continued to impress in a prolific rookie season, averaging 52.5 yards with seven punts. He knocked three of those punts inside the 20-yard line, including back-to-back punts in the first half to the 1- and 2-yard line, respectively. He also boomed a long of 65 yards.
On the other side, placekicker Sebastian Janikowski turned in a disastrous five-minute stretch. The 40-year-old 19th-year pro missed his third extra point of the season following the Seahawks’ first touchdown of the game, then immediately kicked off short of the end zone. Wide receiver Richie James Jr. returned the kick 97 yards for a score, with Janikowski making as feeble a tackle attempt as you’ll ever see along the way. He also rebounded in the fourth quarter, cranking a game-tying 48-yard field goal in the rain.
Cornerback Neiko Thorpe was also called for an unnecessary roughness penalty on punt coverage in the second half, adding to the special teams unit’s inconsistent day.
2018 NFL Week 15 takeaways and what we learned from games – NFL Nation – ESPN
The Vikings’ win put them closer to a playoff seat. Two NFC East teams were shut out. The Bears hung on to get to 10 wins, and the Ravens tallied their fourth victory in five Lamar Jackson starts.All that and more in Week 15’s biggest takeaways from NFL Nation.Jump to a matchup:GB-CHI | DAL-IND |…
Chicago has reached the postseason only six times since the Mike Ditka era ended after the 1992 season and not at all since 2010, but the Bears are headed to the playoffs in 2018 — and look like they’ll be there plenty in coming years. Under first-year head coach Matt Nagy, the Bears have a roster loaded with starters below the age of 28, including All-Pro pass-rusher Khalil Mack, who’s under contract through 2024. Every season presents unique challenges, but the Bears look set up for long-term success. — Jeff Dickerson
Tarik Cohen beats the Packers defense to the edge and reaches out for a touchdown.
When asked what changes are coming in the final two weeks now that the Packers are eliminated from playoff contention after Sunday’s loss to the Bears (combined with the Vikings’ win), interim coach Joe Philbin said, “Nothing.” That would seem to apply to quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who said several times that he expects to keep playing. “I’d like to be out there and lead us the last two weeks,” Rodgers said. — Rob Demovsky
The Colts beating a team with Andrew Luck throwing for less than 200 yards and not having a touchdown pass? It used to be out of the question. Oh how things have changed for the Colts. They ended Dallas’ five-game winning streak and got their first shutout since October 2014 by rushing for 178 yards and holding Dallas to 292 total yards of offense. More important, the Colts have won seven of their past eight games to remain right in the thick of the AFC playoff race, with a home game next week against the Giants. — Mike Wells
With a chance to win the NFC East on Sunday, the Cowboys came out listless in their loss to the Colts. With a victory next week against the Buccaneers, they can clinch the division title for the second time in three seasons. “Just the way we didn’t give ourselves a chance pisses me off, pisses everybody off,” quarterback Dak Prescott said. “We knew what was on the line and it’s been on the line. It will be on the line next week. We just got to go and get better this week in practice.” — Todd Archer
Lamar Jackson continued his winning ways, helping the Ravens keep hold of the final playoff spot in the AFC. Jackson, now 4-1 as a starter, tallied 226 yards of offense (131 passing, 95 rushing) against the NFL’s No. 27 defense. He will face his toughest test Saturday, when he goes against the Chargers; it will mark the first time he will face a defense ranked in the top half of the NFL (No. 8). — Jamison Hensley
John Harbaugh tells reporters he was happy that the Ravens were able to overcome adversity and pick up a win against the Buccaneers.
For the second consecutive week, the Buccaneers hung tough against a playoff team but struggled to overcome their second-half issues. Since Week 12, Tampa Bay has scored a total of 12 points in the second half of games. “We can’t seem to get out of our own way almost,” tight end Cameron Brate said. “You can’t really pinpoint one thing or one play, one player or anything like that. Until we find a way to either not make those critical errors or find a way to get over them, we’re gonna continue to struggle to win games.” — Jenna Laine
The Vikings scored season-high 41 points in Kevin Stefanski’s debut as interim offensive coordinator and maintained the sixth overall seed in the playoff picture, now sitting with a 73 percent chance to reach the postseason, according to ESPN’s live FPI projections. Minnesota accomplished what it’s been trying to do all season in sticking to the run, which resulted in Dalvin Cook notching a career-best 136 yards rushing and two touchdowns. The Vikings can take another step toward the playoffs next Sunday when they visit Detroit. — Courtney Cronin
Miami came into Sunday’s game needing a victory to keep pace with the three other teams tied for the AFC’s final playoff spot, but it laid an egg. Ryan Tannehill was sacked nine times, the offense produced only 193 yards and the defense gave up 41 points. The Dolphins can’t prepare for 2019 yet given that this season is still alive, but they have just a 3 percent chance to make the playoffs per FPI. — Cameron Wolfe
The Titans continued the theme of physical play on both sides of the ball as Derrick Henry‘s 170 rushing yards and two touchdowns was enough to beat the Giants. The formula is simple: Control the game, win field position and play stout defense. It has resulted in Tennessee dominating consecutive opponents with a 47-9 point advantage. Next up for the Titans is a struggling Redskins team as they continue to work toward a playoff berth in head coach Mike Vrabel’s rookie season. — Turron Davenport
The Giants’ offense might not be fixed after all. Shut out by Tennessee, Saquon Barkley was stymied (31 yards on 14 carries) and the offense couldn’t do anything in the heavy rain. It was the second time the Giants were shut out within a year and the seventh time in Eli Manning‘s career. There are still a lot of questions to be answered regarding the Giants’ offense, including making a long-term decision on Manning. — Jordan Raanan
Giants head coach Pat Shurmur vents his frustration after a shutout loss to the Titans.
The Falcons might not want to give up on Vic Beasley Jr. just yet despite critics believing it’s time to move on from the former No. 8 overall pick. Beasley has shown flashes here late in the season, including two batted passes — one that led to a pick-six for teammate Deion Jones — and a sack in the Falcons’ win over Arizona. Beasley aims to carry his momentum into the final two games, at Carolina and Tampa Bay, and maybe secure a future with the team. “Every game, my goal is to make a statement, to show the team, coaches, fans what I’m capable of,” Beasley said. — Vaughn McClure
The Cardinals strengthened their chances of securing the No. 1 draft pick with one of their worst showings of the season in a season full of them. After taking a 7-0 lead, they gave up 40 consecutive points for the second time in four games before scoring a garbage-time touchdown. Arizona showed Sunday its issues are widespread and will take a lot of moves to fix. — Josh Weinfuss
The Redskins kept their playoff hopes alive, but do not control their own fate. However, if they can win their final two games to finish 9-7, they could still end up either winning the division or sneaking in as a wild card. That would be quite an accomplishment for a team that was nearly done and buried early in the fourth quarter Sunday. The Redskins relied on grit to beat the Jaguars, but they will need more to beat both Tennessee and Philadelphia. — John Keim
Redskins head coach Jay Gruden speaks to the media after his team won on the road vs. Jacksonville 16-13.
The Jaguars’ offense has managed just one touchdown in the past three games and totaled only 192 total yards — just 20 passing — on Sunday against Washington. Cody Kessler was sacked six times and threw a crucial late-game interception that led to the Redskins’ winning points. Injuries forced the Jaguars to start nine players who are either backups or midseason additions on offense. The season can’t end soon enough for Jacksonville. — Mike DiRocco
The Bengals snapped a five-game losing streak, but interest in the team has waned in the past month, particularly with Marvin Lewis’ future in question. As a result, Paul Brown Stadium looked fairly empty for the final home game of the season. However, the future looks bright for Tyler Boyd, Joe Mixon and Sam Hubbard, who had two sacks and a forced fumble. Boyd hit 1,000 yards on the season, and Mixon is five yards away from his first 1,000-yard season. — Katherine Terrell
Derek Carr continued his efficient, if unspectacular, play for the Raiders, which bodes well for the future. Hey, we’re keeping it positive but real around these parts for a 3-11 team, right? Beside, Carr set a franchise record in not throwing an interception in his past 301 attempts, a streak running nine games. Up next? What promises to be a sublime Christmas Eve as the Raiders might be playing their final game ever in Oakland, against the rival Broncos. Buckle up. — Paul Gutierrez
Josh Allen rushed for only 16 yards after running for 335 over the previous three games, but he accomplished two goals in Sunday’s victory over the Lions: protecting his body and avoiding turnovers. Allen was not intercepted, improving his record to 3-0 in full games this season in which he has not been picked off. The rookie still took some chances as a runner and fumbled in the third quarter, but overall took a step in the right direction. — Mike Rodak
Detroit’s slim playoff chances ended in Buffalo with problems old (an unproductive offense with questionable playcalling) and new (Matt Prater‘s first missed fourth-quarter field goal in three years). No matter how it happened, the end result is a losing season for the Lions in Matt Patricia’s first season. — Michael Rothstein
The Texans remain in the hunt for a first-round playoff bye in the AFC thanks largely to great performances by DeAndre Hopkins and J.J. Watt. There are issues to fix, including pass-protection woes and third-down struggles on both sides of the ball, but Houston continues to quietly keep pressure on the AFC’s leaders. With the Eagles and Jaguars left on the schedule, the Texans likely will force the Patriots to win out to keep them from a bye. — Sarah Barshop
DeAndre Hopkins discusses his two touchdowns, saying Texans QB Deshaun Watson threw it up and gave him an opportunity on both. The receiver also addresses rolling his ankle.
Yes, the Jets stink, but at least there’s hope at quarterback. Sam Darnold has played two good games in a row, cutting down on his interceptions and creating plays outside the pocket. The next coach, whoever it is, will inherit a promising young talent. — Rich Cimini
As the Browns play the waiting game in the playoff hunt, four wins in their past five games means they can finish with a winning record. Victories over the Bengals and Ravens in the final two games would mean the Browns finish above .500 for the first time since 2007. — Pat McManamon
The Broncos sit at 6-8, poised for their third consecutive playoff miss, and they can blame their offseason free-agency work for their woes. Quarterback Case Keenum, who signed a two-year deal, was the centerpiece, but the Broncos have been unable to find consistency on offense. Denver’s 2018 draft class should be celebrated, but the free-agent signings have to be better or they’re simply using cap space for players who aren’t contributing. — Jeff Legwold
The Chargers clinched a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2013 while also elevating themselves into the conversation for the AFC West division title and a No. 1 seed in the conference. They also stopped a nine-game losing streak to the Chiefs with Thursday’s victory. If the Chargers win out and the Chiefs lose one of their two remaining games, the Bolts will be hosting a playoff game at the StubHub Center. — Eric D. Williams
The Chiefs won’t always be able to score enough to overcome their leaky defense. This might not be a problem the rest of the regular season, with the Seahawks and Raiders the remaining opponents, but it could be a big obstacle in the playoffs, when high-scoring opponents such as the Patriots and Chargers could be on the opposite side of the field. — Adam Teicher
Bills Defenders Force Timeout After Helmet And Jersey Won’t Stop Smooching – Deadspin
Bills rookie linebacker Tremaine Edmunds assisted in a stop at the line of scrimmage to force a fourth down and punt from the Lions in the first half today. His teammate Jerry Hughes also tried to help, but instead had his helmet stuck to the back of Edmunds’s jersey. Aw, they like each other.Hughes had…
Bills rookie linebacker Tremaine Edmunds assisted in a stop at the line of scrimmage to force a fourth down and punt from the Lions in the first half today. His teammate Jerry Hughes also tried to help, but instead had his helmet stuck to the back of Edmunds’s jersey. Aw, they like each other.
Hughes had to take off his helmet after getting dragged a couple feet by Edmunds, and Buffalo was forced to call a timeout so that the players could fix the uniform mishap.