LAS VEGAS — Brandon Ingram had just missed a potential game-winning shot and fell to the floor, clutching his right leg.
A concerned Magic Johnson got out of his seat and held his breath hoping that Ingram’s wonderful night didn’t end on a disastrous note. But to the Lakers‘ relief, Ingram said he only suffered a cramp after scoring 26 points and looking every bit of the second overall pick that he was a year ago.
“It was just a cramp,” Ingram said. “I was ready to get back to play but looked back over to the sidelines and saw Magic [shoot a look that he was done for the night] … [the injury had] nothing to do with my ankle.”
While he remains thin, Ingram’s shoulders are noticeably broader compared to his rookie debut in summer league last year. He shot 9-for-17, made 7 of 8 free throws and had three steals and two blocks.
With the Lakers brass of Johnson, general manager Rob Pelinka and head coach Luke Walton looking on, the 6-foot-9 Ingram opened Friday’s game catching an alley-oop from Ball before displaying his ability to attack the basket and finish in traffic with his length, while also being able to back down a smaller defender and draining a turnaround jumper.
“He’s good,” Clippers Summer League coach Sam Cassell said. “He’s real good. He’s smooth. He’s tall. And he can play. I don’t think he growing no more. He better not grow no more.”
Ingram, who turns 20 in September, says he hears every year of how people think he is getting taller. He just wants his game to keep growing on the court.
“Just want to continue to work at the same pace and get even better than I was tonight, especially on the defensive end,” Ingram said. “Don’t stay complacent.”
Ingram wanted to return after the brief scare with his cramp, but Lakers Summer League coach Jud Buechler was informed that the forward’s night was over after 32 minutes of play. Johnson, the team’s president of basketball operations, made it clear.
“Brandon wanted to play,” Buechler said. “I didn’t see Magic [give a look that Ingram’s night was over] but five of my assistants did and that is fine to protect him.”
“I think he is fine,” Buechler added. “Just a cramp but obviously he played a ton of minutes and probably [was] a little dehydrated. He had a great game and I loved his leadership out there and loved what he did for us. He wanted to be in but we are playing it a little bit safe.”