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Brandon Ingram’s return helps fuel Lakers’ win over Mavericks

It had been nearly four full weeks since Brandon Ingram played in a real game, and he was eager for every opportunity he had Wednesday night.

That was to his detriment, he felt.

“I’ll try not to have another one like that,” Ingram said.

The Lakers defeated the Mavericks 103-93 in their first game at home since March 16. The Lakers improved to 33-41 while the Mavericks, who finished the game with a lineup that didn’t include a single player who was drafted, fell to 23-52.

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The Lakers, who have been eliminated from playoff contention, have eight games left this season.

Ingram scored 13 points with seven rebounds, four assists and a steal in his first game since March 1, when he suffered a groin strain against the Miami Heat.

Brook Lopez led all scorers with 22 points. Julius Randle (20) and Kyle Kuzma (18) also reached double figures for the Lakers.

Dirk Nowitzki scored 13 points in what could be the 39-year-old’s final game at Staples Center.

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For Ingram, the return was just the next step in a gradual process. It started with his playing two-on-two on Sunday in Detroit. Then he played three-on-three Tuesday in Los Angeles.

He was on a minutes restriction Wednesday night and played 23 minutes.

“I feel good physically,” Ingram said. “I think I was throwing temper tantrums every time I came out of the game for my minutes restriction.”

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Said Walton: “He looked really good. It was nice having him back out there. I thought his timing was a little off in the first half, but I thought the second half was good.”

A brief Lonzo scare

Lonzo Ball left the game in the fourth quarter with a left knee contusion. He will have an MRI on Thursday just in case, but Walton said doctors expected Ball’s knee to be fine.

Ball walked with a pronounced limp both as he left the game and in the locker room. The injury happened when he was kneed in the back of the leg, but Ball wasn’t too concerned because it was not in the same part of his knee as the sprain that caused him to miss six weeks starting in January.

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“It’s just pretty much a bruise,” Ball said. “Just gotta ice it and wait for it to go away.”

Hart close

The Lakers are hopeful Josh Hart will return Friday against the Milwaukee Bucks. Hart broke his left hand during a practice in Miami on Feb. 28. He wore a soft cast on it, then a brace in the early stages of the injury.

On Wednesday, Hart walked through Staples Center without anything restricting his hand. He participated in a three-on-three drill Tuesday and is expected to practice Thursday if the Lakers practice.

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Trainer on mend

As the Lakers have worked through a spate of injuries late in the season, they’ve done it at the direction of assistant trainer Nina Hsieh.

Head trainer Marco Nunez has been away from the team after having eye surgery.

Nunez became the team’s head trainer at the start of the 2016-17 season.

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tania.ganguli@latimes.com

Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli


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