But in the split second Ball had to make the decision, he remembered how much time remained in the game and that his coach told him moments before that the Lakers wanted the last shot. So with the score tied, instead of shooting the open three-pointer he had in the corner, Ball drove to the basket and sucked several
Ingram lingered just outside the three-point arc, where Ball found him with no defender near him. His shot swished through the net with 0.8 seconds left in the game.
The man who wants to be the Lakers' closer did it Thursday night, giving them a 107-104 win over the 76ers.
The Lakers snapped a five-game losing streak to start their four-game trip. Ingram scored 21 points and made two three-pointers, including the winner.
"Brandon showed a lot of guts to be able to knock down that three there," Lakers coach Luke Walton said.
Ball finished with 10 points, eight rebounds, four blocked shots, three steals and eight assists. The last time the Lakers played the 76ers, Ball thought he played so poorly he never watched the tape again. This time, Ball was so aggressive he earned the praise of Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson on Twitter.
Philadelphia point guard Ben Simmons notched his third career triple-double, with 12 points, 15 assists and 13 rebounds. Philadelphia star
Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson each added 16 points off the bench for the Lakers.
The Lakers jumped on Philadelphia quickly and took a double-digit lead in the first quarter. The lead grew to 16 in the third quarter and the Lakers seemed poised for an easy victory. But very little is easy for the Lakers this season, and especially on the road where they'd only won two of their previous 10 games.
So, the 76ers stormed back. With a 13-2 run they cut the Lakers' lead to five in the third quarter. In the waning minutes of the fourth they got even closer. As they closed the gap, the crowd in Philadelphia began to roar. Embiid asked them to get even louder, lifting his arms in the air to encourage them.
But Embiid also gave the Lakers an opening late.
"Embiid had five fouls so we was gonna go to Ju and live and die with him going to the basket strong," Ball said.
Randle scored three consecutive baskets, made two free throws and notched a steal after entering the game with 3:47 left. He harangued Embiid into a critical turnover.
"When he gets challenged like that, he is pretty darn good," Walton said. "Embiid is probably as big, talented a player as there is in our league. The skill he has, the way he reads the floor, reads defenses and the soft touch… that combined with the fact that he loves the moment, it seems like, he is a handful. Julius did as good as anyone could as far as fighting down the stretch."
Embiid wasn't totally neutralized, though. As Randle kept scoring, the 76ers kept pushing back. Embiid made two free throws with 39.8 seconds left in the game to tie it.
Then Ingram's big moment crystallized. Ingram has had opportunities to close games before. He wants to be the Lakers' closer and they want him to take that role.
"He put in a lot of work this summer, so it's good to see it come together," Clarkson said. "That's my dog growing up right in front of my arms."
Against another young team that has found its footing, Ingram and the Lakers showed that they are getting closer to their goals.