"We're buying in to the fact that we can be into these games and that we can win these games," Ingram said. "I think the way we go in with the defensive pressure (determines) what the results will be. If we go in and hit first, battle as soon as we get on the floor, it's going to be a really good game for us."
Thursday's trade created expectations for next summer -- but with the way the Lakers are playing right now, fans might not need to wait. While it's not a finished product, it's certainly an improving one.
"It's a big jump ... as far as closing games from where we started the season out," Walton said. "We kind of needed other teams to miss shots or someone on our team to get really hot to win a game. Now, we can just consistently do the things, mainly defensively, to secure wins.
"It's huge progress for this group."
The Lakers don't have plans to buy out the remaining time on center Brook Lopez's contract, which would allow him to join another team in the push for the postseason. Lopez is in the final year of his contract and will be an unrestricted free agent after the season. ... Ball (knee) will travel with the team for Saturday's game in Dallas, but he will not play against the Mavericks.
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