Moral victories may not show up in the standings, but Wednesday night a loud statement by the Lakers against the defending NBA champions was deafening at Staples Center. LA hung with the Golden State boys until falling in overtime 127-123 on the clutch 3-point shooting by Stephen Curry.
Curry, on an off night, made it count in the extra period, scoring 13 of his 28 points, three from behind the arc. The Warriors dodged a back-to-back defeat bullet with five seconds left in regulation when Brandon Ingram’s drive to the basket got an unfriendly bounce on the rim.
In a tough loss to his former team, Los Angeles coach Luke Walton had plenty to celebrate, specifically the performance of Lonzo Ball, who silenced his critics, at least momentarily, with 15 points, 10 game-high assists, and a diving attempt at a loose ball that drew blood above his left eye.
Early in the third quarter, Brandon Ingram boosted Ball’s confidence when the reluctant rookie passed on a 3-pointer, tossing the ball to the more seasoned small forward. Ingram selflessly gave it back and reaped the rewards of a 25-foot assist. Less than a minute later the duo repeated the drill and Ball drained another from 29-feet out.
Ingram had his own coming out party scoring a career-high 32 points with shots inside the paint, outside the arc and in the lane, dueling Kevin Durant (29 points) all night long. The tall, skinny, tatted Laker almost stole the show, stealing the ball from the two-time MVP with 16 seconds left in the game, he drove to the hoop, barely missing the basket as he was fouled.
After making both freebies, trailing 124-123 with 14 seconds remaining on the clock, Curry was intentionally fouled. He made the first, and missed the second but Ingram was at the wrong place at the wrong time as Draymond Green tipped the ball, which landed into the hands of teammate Andre Igoudala. Curry stepped to the line once again, hitting both free throws, making the four-point deficit too daunting to dig out of with six seconds to play.
Other high scorers for the Lakers were Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Jordan Clarkson with 21 points each, and Julius Randle’s contribution of 20. Despite the Warriors 22 turnovers, you have to give the Lakers kudos for how they played defensively. The way Golden State passively performed, it seemed as if they didn’t believe they had a tough opponent in the Lakers. I didn’t either. When prompted if I wanted to add the extended time on my DVR I shrugged, “What for?”