(Glenn James/Getty Images)
Ingram Slashes His Way to New Season-High in Comeback
Like a boxer setting up a knockout blow, Brandon Ingram sized up his opponent before unleashing a flurry.
He pulled up in transition with a between-the-legs dribble and immediately crossed back the way he came, leaving his defender stuck in quicksand.
Then he drove at Dallas’ rim protector before changing course at the last instant with a Eurostep into an easy finger roll.
Nasty combination from Brandon Ingram.— Joey Ramirez (@JoeyARamirez) January 8, 2019
Between the legs crossover Eurostep finger roll pic.twitter.com/yrBM2b11HJ
It was a vicious series of moves from the 21-year-old, who made himself at home in the Mavericks’ paint. He finished the night with a season-high 29 points — mostly at the rim — and led the Lakers from a 13-point halftime deficit to a 10-point victory.
Ingram’s night was turbo-charged by the Lakers’ high-octane pace, as they scored 35 fast-break points — 29 more than Dallas.
Brandon Ingram scored a season-high 29 points in slasher mode.— Joey Ramirez (@JoeyARamirez) January 8, 2019
All of his buckets came in the paint, including this transition behind-the-back dribble into a fadeaway. pic.twitter.com/VfBs8mKO4z
Ingram scored 16 of those points. For context, teammate LeBron James leads the league with 5.4 fast-break points per game, while 23 entire teams average fewer than 16.
His long legs allowed him to stride down the court in a hurry, and his “Slenderman” arms are ideal for finishing at the rim.
Those limbs have also served him well on the defensive side, where Ingram has been excellent this season. One of his fast-break buckets came after he smothered Luka Doncic, forcing the second-overall pick to cough up the ball.
Ingram’s ability to streak down the floor was especially potent because it took Dallas’ rim protector, DeAndre Jordan, out of the equation. It’s a lot easier to score at the hoop when there isn’t a super-athletic 7-footer in the paint.
But that doesn’t mean that Ingram wasn’t providing in the half-court offense.
The same measurements that allowed him to thrive in transition also helped him knife to the bucket against a set defense.
In fact, Ingram shot a whopping 10-of-11 in the restricted area, as his herky-jerky slashes and crafty finishes helped him beat the Mavericks’ defense whether there was a rim protector or not.
Brandon Ingram lived at the rim against Dallas, shooting 10-of-11 in the restricted area.— Joey Ramirez (@JoeyARamirez) January 9, 2019
Here, Hart and Chandler set back-to-back screens, peeling off Ingram's defender and getting him downhill where he finishes the and-1 with his length.
: https://t.co/HYvxD26F67 pic.twitter.com/08hQwHPvkD
And Ingram iced the game by using his driving to set up scores for his teammates, particularly JaVale McGee.
Ingram had six assists on the night, including two to McGee in the final three minutes. Dallas had climbed back within seven points, and Ingram broke out identical plays on back-to-back possessions: beating his man, drawing the rim protector and feeding his own center for the slam.
Coach Luke Walton has long preached that Ingram is at his best when not worrying about scoring or passing, but simply making the right play in the moment.
He showed that against the Mavs, blending both individual and team offense in arguably his best game of the year.
And considering this performance came just one day Walton called for more “passion and fire” from Ingram and Lonzo Ball, it’s safe to say that both players came ready to deliver.