Brandon Ingram made his intentions clear from the very start: He was planning to score — a lot.
The 20-year-old provided the Lakers’ first nine points of the night and never relented, finishing with a career-high 32 points. The inferno allowed Los Angeles to take the defending champions into overtime, yet Golden State prevailed, 127-123.
Ingram flashed his jump shot as much as he has all year, hitting 5-of-10 from outside the paint, including a pair of corner 3-pointers.
That helped open up his trademark drives to the rim. Ingram thrived around the hoop, shooing 7-of-10 and mixing smooth strides with herky-jerky slashes.
“I’m just going in there with confidence,” Ingram said. “Trying to use my length over the bigs or the help-side (defenders).”
For as much as his 7-foot-3 wingspan benefitted him against the Warriors (16-6), so too did his ability to exploit less-mobile bigs.
Six of his baskets came when the Warriors switched defenders, and big men Zaza Pachulia and Jordan Bell were his most frequent victims.
Those two had little chance of keeping up with Ingram’s giant steps, as he often blew past them for a layup.
“He was getting downhill on us (and) getting to the rim, and he was very aggressive,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
Ingram’s most impressive plays of the night weren’t against lumbering bigs, but rather two of the NBA’s top wing defenders.
In overtime, he strode past both Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson for layups that kept the Lakers (8-13) in the game.
When Durant tried to back him down in the waning seconds of overtime, Ingram poked the ball away and pushed ahead in transition. He drew a foul from Durant at the rim and hit both free throw attempts to trim L.A.’s deficit to just one with 15 second left.
“KD’s not only one of the best offensive players in the league; he’s really tough to score on,” head coach Luke Walton said. “Brandon was up to the challenge. He made some tough shots.”
Durant was one of Ingram’s basketball idols growing up in Kinston, North Carolina. However, the sophomore kept his focus on his team during his breakout night.
“You put all the idol stuff away and try to compete to the best of your ability,” Ingram said. “There are 15 guys in here. I’m just trying to play for all of those guys.”
Lakers came out to play
It took much more than one player for the young Lakers to contend with the overwhelming title favorites.
Jordan Clarkson (21 points, eight assists) and Lonzo Ball (15 points, 10 assists) made plays for themselves and others. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (21 points) and Julius Randle (20 points) each had moments of electricity.
And, with Ingram leading the way, the Lakers posted 68 points in the paint.
Meanwhile, Walton said it was a point of emphasis to win the turnover battle, and the Lakers did just that by forcing 22 giveaways.
“They’re the Warriors,” Clarkson said. “If you ain’t playing hard, you’re gonna get blown out.”
An 18-4 run at the end of the second quarter gave the Lakers a four-point edge at halftime. But there was still plenty of action left in a game that included 17 ties and 14 lead changes.
Down by two with 1:31 left, Randle’s driving layup tied the game before Caldwell-Pope’s and-1 floater gave the Lakers a 109-106 lead with 56 seconds to go.
But Durant (29 points) immediately responded with a game-tying 3-pointer.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, they did not have Randle guarding him on that play, as he came up with two huge defensive stops on Curry and Durant in the final 71 seconds.
Instead, they had to settle for overtime after Ingram’s layup attempt missed at the buzzer.
Curry hit two triples to open up the extra period, but the Lakers held strong. Ingram personally whittled the gap down to a single point, though a missed rebound in the final seconds forfeited a chance at tying the game.
Kyle Kuzma (back spasms) was a late scratch. … Curry scored 28 points and Thompson added 20. … Ingram also had seven turnovers and five fouls. … A sold-out crowd of 18,997 — including actor Will Ferrell and singer Britney Spears — filled STAPLES Center.