The Los Angeles Lakers played their most complete 48 minutes of basketball when they beat the Detroit Pistons Tuesday night, and it’s no surprise that Brandon Ingram had a fantastic game along the way.
The box score — 13 points, six assists, five rebounds and four steals — doesn’t necessarily leap out at you, but it was definitely an above-average game by the numbers for Ingram. Lakers head coach Luke Walton gushed about what he saw on the court from his young franchise player.
“Brandon, his help-side defense... he made a couple plays at the end of the Utah game in the second half, and then all night tonight his length was... he was using it. He was making plays, deflections, I think he ended with four steals tonight,” Walton said.
Ingram had a great defensive game, which remains one of the most difficult things to quantify in basketball. Sequences like this, however, show the clear impact he had against Detroit:
“Hopefully something clicked for him on that part of the game. I thought he also made a lot of really nice passes. Nice feel. We're not calling plays for him to be a playmaker, but just reading the defense and making passes,” Walton said.
Ingram definitely played with a flow to his game Tuesday night, putting his full toolkit on display. He made great decisions with the ball in his hands, took advantage of mismatches and time and time again simply made the right play.
It all starts with defense getting Brandon going.
“For me, I just try to bring the intensity and worry about the defensive end first. Of course I was locked in on that end and it led to easy baskets. Transition baskets, we moved the ball in our offense. We didn't care who shot the ball as long as it went in the hole,” Ingram said following the game.
It’s not realistic to expect the Lakers to execute at the level they did against the Pistons every night, but there’s a blueprint there for how Ingram can take over the game, even if the numbers in the box score aren’t gaudy.
“This is the way we want to play. This is kind of the identity we want to bring every single game, and going into the next practice, focus again. Mentally being locked in tomorrow in tomorrow's practice, and the next shootaround, and just try to come in and bring the same energy,” Ingram said of carrying the momentum forward.
Beating the Trail Blazers in Portland, with Ingram’s defense being one of the keys, would be a great follow-up performance to cement the fact that progress is indeed finally being made.