Even though many are undoubtedly tired of moral victories, there were some silver linings in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 127-123 overtime loss to the Golden State Warriors. The biggest, without a doubt, was the play of second-year forward Brandon Ingram in a duel with Kevin Durant.
Ingram stepped up to the challenge of defending and going against the reigning NBA Finals MVP, setting a career high with 32 points. Ingram shot 12-of-21 from the field, hit six of his seven free throws and both of his 3-pointers. He added five rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks.
Head coach Luke Walton saw the breakout performance coming. “Brandon was locked in all day today, you saw it at shootaround,” Walton said.
“I think that’s good for him. … I thought it was nice for him to have a day where all day long he was focused, he was locked in, he came out and obviously had a great game.”
That Ingram’s stellar player coming against someone of the caliber Durant makes it that much more impressive and something to draw from. “I think there was a lot of learning moments out there for Brandon,” Walton added.
“The confidence in himself, to be able to go against K.D., who not only is one of the top offensive players in the league but he’s tough to score on. Brandon was up for the challenge and made some tough shots.”
The next step for Ingram, and the rest of the Lakers, is to bring this level of focus and energy every night. Ingram has the tools and the potential to be very special and this game was proof of that.
Despite missing a potential game-winning shot in regulation, Walton didn’t see any reason for his rising star to be discourage. “It’s how you get better, how you become great. It bothers you when you go home at night and then you come back to the gym and work on it,” Walton explained.
“They make commercials about it. How do you succeed? By failing. Kobe’s airballs early in his career, Jordan, and all those things. I’m not saying B.I. is Kobe or Jordan, but that’s the reality of how you get better. You try and you fail and it hurts, and you get your butt back in the gym.”
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