This game was of massive importance for both sides. On one end, the Pelicans were looking to snap a disappointing run. On the other, the Lakers looked to continue the momentum after emerging victorious in back-to-back contests.
All eyes were closely fixated on James as he hunts down Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the all-time scoring record. But in the end, it was actually Brandon Ingram who came out on top. So how did he do it?
Well, the first quarter didn’t quite go as planned for number 14. Picking up two early fouls after two minutes and exiting the game for the quarter. His closing stat line after one was zero points and two fouls on 0-2 shooting from the floor, with his Pelicans facing a two-point deficit.
The second quarter is when Ingram started to ramp it up, and boy, did he ever. His first bucket came with two and half minutes into the frame. It was a beautiful pass by Kira Lewis Jr. that initiated the sequence as Ingram proceeded to drive past Russell Westbrook, force a smaller Beverley to rotate over and help, and finish right over top of him (receiving an and-one in the process.) An efficient way for Ingram to get his first bucket.
Not even 40 seconds later, Pelicans fans were treated to trademark Brandon Ingram basketball. Ingram took advantage of matchups excellently all night. This time, he was focused on Beverley again, hitting an absurd midrange turnaround jumper. Nothing but net for the midrange mercenary.
The middy magician was at it again, hitting three more before the end of the half. His highlight, though, was a posterizing dunk over Rui Hachimura. Receiving the ball on the left wing, BI drove passed Westbrook (again) and threw the ball down viciously on the newly-acquired Hachimura. He ended the half with 16 points, all of which came in the second half.
Ingram continued to dig deeper into his midrange bag, pulling out 16, 17, and 18-foot midrange shots. Just ridiculous what the man was doing from just inside the 3-point line. My personal favorite shot of the third stanza was the 18-footer over The King for his 20th point on the evening.
On that play, Ingram gets the ball on the right side of the floor, isolates against James, then just rises over him and knocks it down. A true midrange masterclass through three quarters by the former second-overall pick. He finished the quarter with a total points tally of 27.
With the Pelicans down three with twelve minutes of regulation remaining, it was Ingram’s time to shine. He came back into the game with 6:21 left in the fourth, and nine seconds later, he was back to his old tricks. Posting up Troy Brown, Ingram faded baseline from 12 feet and connected. A tough shot, especially after just coming off the bench. No problem for BI.
Ingram culminated his spectacular performance with one last midrange dagger to put the Pelicans up six with a hair over a minute remaining in regulation.
He was the catalyst as New Orleans defeated the Lakers 131-126 and snapped their 10-game losing streak. Number 14 ended the night with a final box score line of 35 points, four assists, and five rebounds on 54% shooting from the floor. A true clinic from the team’s second-best player in only his fifth game back from the toe injury that kept him out for two months. A welcome sight indeed.