The Los Angeles Lakers produced a gritty display against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night and almost pulled off a huge upset as they took them to overtime.
Unfortunately, their efforts proved to be in vain as Steph Curry took over in the additional period and guided the Dubs to a 127-123 win at Staples Center.
But despite the loss, there were hugely positive signs in regards to the future of the Lakers with some impressive performances by some of the young stars they're hoping to build the franchise around.
One player in a Purple and Gold uniform, in particular, who stole the show and made people stand up and take notice was Brandon Ingram.
The 20-year-old produced the best display of his young career as he finished with 32 points, five rebounds, three assists, three steals, and two blocks.
According to ESPN Stats and Info, he became just the fourth Laker to score 30 or more points before his 21st birthday.
Playing against the league's best team in a marquee national TV matchup helped to show a large audience just how much he's progressed in the last 12 months.
Ingram is averaging 15.7 points, 2.9 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game and is growing in confidence this season and it's clear to see he put a lot of work into his game during the offseason.
The lengthy small forward has often been compared to Warriors superstar Kevin Durant as they possess a similar frame and he embraced the challenge of squaring up against him during their encounter.
KD is familiar with the youngster's game having shared some time with him during Team USA workouts over the summer and noted one major difference in his game.
“Just confidence. Luke put the ball in his hands and let him make plays,” Durant said after the game.
“All night he made plays, finished over the top, made the [jumpers], made good decisions. As a player playing against him, I hate to see it.
"But if I was watching on TV, I’d be really excited for him. You can see he’s learning and getting better. He’s growing as a player, and his teammates and coaches believe in him.”
Ingram wasn't fazed by going up against one of the best players on the planet and looked extremely focused and determined to prove a point, which delighted his head coach Luke Walton.
“That’s what you want from your young players,” Walton said. “The first time around they normally get punked by the All-Stars.
"Then the second, third time, they get a little more comfortable then they’re excited about the challenge. I thought B.I. did a great job of accepting that challenge and performing tonight.”
Durant is happy to be a mentor for the former number two draft pick and he often texts him to provide two messages; be aggressive and play your game.
“It keeps giving me motivation,” Ingram told Bay Area News Group. “It keeps me going to try to be the best basketball player I can be.”
Ironically, his most aggressive night came against the reigning Finals MVP. It was definitely a breakout game for the former Duke product and he's showing the Lakers that they have a future star they can build around.
Los Angeles is expected to be among the most active teams in next summer's free agency as they aim to bring in a star player and improve their chances of competing.
But if Ingram continues at this rate, he will deserve to be among the centerpieces of the team in the years to come as he will only get better.