Throughout the game, Brandon Ingram dazzled with his playmaking. With the contest on the line, he called his own number.
The 23-year-old was everywhere in Sunday’s win over Sacramento, tallying 21 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. And with his team trailing by four within the final four minutes, Ingram scored the game’s next seven points to put the Lakers ahead for good.
Just three days earlier, Ingram missed a key free throw that allowed the Kings to beat the Lakers at the buzzer. But he was clutch this time around, hitting three straight shots to seal victory.
“I kinda just put that away,” Ingram said of his missed foul shot. “Just going back to repetition, what I do in the gym. Just a repetition shot for me, stepping into that 3 and having the confidence to take it.”
And for as great as his scoring was in crunch time, his playmaking was even better throughout the night.
Ingram’s passing was even more impressive than his season-high nine assists would indicate, as he also had several potential dimes that his teammates simply missed.
“I think I just did a better job of getting my teammates involved,” Ingram said. “Know when they feel more comfortable on the basketball floor, it gives us a a better chance to win. At the end of the game I think they’re ready to take the shots.”
And, of course, Ingram was prepared to shoot as well, hitting 9-of-13 from the field. Ingram did a nice job getting to his spots, shooting 8-of-10 on two-pointers.
This included a couple of makes in the non-restricted paint, which is an area of the court typically inefficient for players. But Ingram has thrived there, shooting the NBA’s third-best percentage among players with at least 50 attempts.
And while Ingram had several impressive baskets — including his late flurry and a driving reverse finish — the biggest development of the night was his distributing.
That willingness to pass also made him more effective as a scorer, as evidenced from one of the best plays yet.
B.I. received the ball on a fast-break and faked Willie Cauley-Stein into the New Year by feigning the drop-off to JaVale McGee, instead taking it to the cup himself.
“I think it was the most comfortable I felt, for sure,” Ingram said. “Me just playing the game the right way. Looking for guys, seeing guys. … Just me getting into the lane, having guys to kick to and knock shots down.”
Ingram seems to have bought in on coach Luke Walton telling him that his best games come when he’s not focused on being a scorer or a passer, just making “the right play” on every possession.
That was for all to see on Sunday, as Ingram flirted with a triple-double, got his teammates involved and stepped up to provide his own scoring when the Lakers needed it.
“It’s the best way to play,” Ingram said. “I don’t think [anyone] wants to go in and just force shots, or put up 20, 30 shots and not have his teammates enjoy the win or whatever else we’ve got going on.”