Coming out of Wednesday’s overtime win over the Washington Wizards, one of the main stories focused on Brandon Ingram’s clutch performance. Ingram stepped up in the fourth quarter and overtime, and head coach Luke Walton believes the catalyst was some trash talking between Ingram and Kelly Oubre Jr.
Walton believes that Ingram plays better when he’s angry and Wednesday’s game was proof of that. The second-year forward wants to be the Lakers’ closer, but hasn’t always shown the ability to raise his game when it matters most.
That wasn’t the case against the Wizards as Ingram was in different mindset that even he couldn’t really explain. “I don’t think I’m thinking at all, I’m just in the zone,” Ingram said.
“Just doing everything that I can do, trust my teammates, try to get a stop on defense…I want to block everything out, and only worry about what’s in between those lines.”
Now Walton wants Ingram to keep that mindset without having to be involved in any sort of altercation and he’s going to do whatever he has to in order to bring it out of him.
“Make it something that we point out when he’s not playing like that, and when he is playing like that,” Walton said. “For him to have the awareness and hopefully recognize it himself where he doesn’t need us to and then besides that, we can yell at him, we can pull him out of the game, make him pissed at us. There’s ways to manipulate situations to make players angry so if he doesn’t find that awareness, we’ll make him hate us until he does.”
Ingram has a ton of potential to be the next great Lakers superstar, and also has the desire and work ethic to take that role as well. It is Walton’s job to help Ingram reach that level and he sounds up to the task as well.
Ingram’s next step comes against another top Eastern Conference team as the Toronto Raptors come to Staples Center to face the Lakers.