With the Golden State Warriors in town on Sunday night, Los Angeles Lakers second-year forward Brandon Ingram made it clear he was more than ready for the challenge.
In a primetime matchup against All-Star forward Kevin Durant, who he has drawn plenty of comparisons to since entering the league, Ingram put together the best offensive performance posting a career-high 32 points on 12-of-21 shooting from the field with five rebounds, three steals, and two blocks.
Ingram was a huge factor in the first half scoring a game-best 14 points that helped the Lakers take a 54-50 lead at the half over the Warriors.
The 20-year-old remained aggressive in the second continually looking for his shot that helped Los Angeles trade baskets with Golden State in the final two quarters of play. This saw him notch 12 points in the second half alone and even had the opportunity to win the game at the buzzer on a layup attempt over three defenders that came up short.
“Just trying to attack. Trying to draw a foul,” Ingram said of the final play in regulation. “I think I probably could have gotten to the elbow and shot a jumper. Also, I might have had Julius on the back end. He might have been wide open but just trying to get to the rim, draw the foul and maybe get to the lin and just convert the shot.”
The Warriors pulled ahead in overtime were able to pull ahead, but Ingram provided his team a chance to be in the position to win by scoring six points in the period including a pair of free throws after a steal from Durant to pull his team within one point at 124-123 with 15.1 seconds remaining.
The Lakers were unable to capitalize on that even with Stephen Curry missing the second of a pair of free throws on the next possession as Golden State collected the rebound and the two-time MVP sealed the deal by knocking down two more from the charity stripe. Durant finished with a team-high 29 points with seven rebounds and five assists.
Despite suffering yet another close loss, head coach Luke Walton was impressed and encouraged by Ingram’s play against the defending NBA champions.
“I think there were a lot of learning moments out there for Brandon,” Walton said. “The confidence in himself and to be able to go against KD. KD is not only one of the best offensive players in the league, he’s really tough to score on, and Brandon was up for the challenge.He made some tough shots. Brandon was locked in all day today, you saw it at shootaround, so I think that’s good for him.”
It was a singular focus that Ingram believes he can continue to build off and hopefully carry that same approach on a daily basis moving forward.
“I just try to come in with the same focus every single day,” Ingram said. “Working on my routine with BK [Brian Keefe] and just continue to build confidence in myself. Whether it is a mid-range jumper, three-pointers, or getting to the basket. Just work on the same thing every day to build confidence on the basketball court.”
Ingram has taken some big strides forward in his second campaign being one of the most reliable offensive contributors on the team on a nightly basis averaging 15.7 points per game. He has now scored in double figures 17 of the 21 games played this season including the last seven straight contests.
Ultimately, it’s something that his teammates are confident he can build upon his stellar outing and bring to the table each night.
“I see him growing up, stepping up to the game,” Lonzo Ball said. “Thirty-two points, career high. He can do that for us nightly. When he is hitting his mid-range, he is very tough to guard.”