It started with a moment of ferocity for Brandon Ingram.
Just two minutes into Sunday’s game, he sized up his defender before dusting him with a drive to the baseline.
From there, he took flight for a one-handed reverse dunk, contributing for the first of many times in the Lakers’ 107-102 win over Memphis.
Ingram dropped 20 points on the Grizzlies, including 14 in a second quarter that saw him singlehandedly take over the offense.
As with his last handful of games, the sophomore put his 7-foot-3 wingspan on display. Six of his seven baskets came on drives to the rack, even when challenged by former Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol.
Ingram finished through contact for a pair of and-1 buckets, and also contributed seven rebounds.
But the 20-year-old knows he has more to offer with his length.
“I think I’ve been doing an OK job of it right now, but I think I can be even better using my length, drawing fouls going toward the basket,” Ingram said. “(I’m) still working.”
Ingram’s success in the paint was mirrored by Kyle Kuzma, who once again shined in his second career start with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
While the rookie badgered yet another opponent with his drives and cuts to the hoop, he was hardly surprised by his third double-double in the first 10 games of his career.
“Not at all,” he said. “I play hard and I rebound. Of course I can score. That’s pretty natural.”
Ingram and Kuzma provided the Lakers (5-5) much of their inside scoring, while Brook Lopez lit it up from beyond the arc.
Two days after hitting six 3-pointers against Brooklyn, Lopez splashed four triples on the Grizzlies (6-4).
When not popping out for treys, he was busy collecting five assists, including an eye-popping, behind-the-back dime in transition to Kuzma for the reverse dunk.
Lopez was clearly the Lakers’ top deep threat, but it was Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope who used the long ball to give Los Angeles its largest lead of the night.
Halfway through the third quarter, Kuzma drained a triple before KCP added two more back-to-back, capping off a run of 12 unanswered points that pushed the Lakers’ lead to 82-60.
When the Grizzlies managed to claw back, Caldwell-Pope stepped up once again.
After a 9-0 run, Memphis trailed by just three with 42.5 seconds remaining. KCP put an end to the danger by stripping James Ennis’ layup attempt, and then iced the game moments after with a pull-up jumper over Gasol.
“(Memphis) did have a lot of momentum, but that play right there and the bucket on the other end slowed that momentum down,” Caldwell-Pope said. “And we finished the game up.”
Now back up to the .500 mark after winning for the third time in four games, head coach Luke Walton felt that this year’s solid start is more sustainable than when the Lakers began 10-10 last season.
The difference, he said, is his players’ willingness to prioritize defense each game. How quickly they’ve accepted that challenge has surprised even him.
“Every night we’re finding ways to compete and bring the energy level and defend,” Walton said. “Ten games in, I wouldn’t have thought honestly that we were ready to start doing that.”
Lonzo Ball had nine points, five rebounds and nine assists, while Jordan Clarkson scored 15 points. … Memphis was led by Tyreke Evans (26 points) and Mike Conley (23). … A sold-out crowd of 18,997 packed STAPLES Center, including Chris Bosh, Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig and rapper Kanye West.