For four quarters, Lonzo Ball outplayed Stephen Curry and Brandon Ingram outplayed Kevin Durant, as the Los Angeles Lakers looked like they may well beat the defending NBA champions on Wednesday night at Staples Center.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, Wednesday's game went to overtime.
Ingram's last second running shot to win at the end of regulation came up just short, and the exciting, evenly-matched contest required a five-minute overtime period to decide a victor.
Curry had been quiet and managed 15 points and missed six of his seven attempts in regulation, so he inevitably came to life and scored the first six points of the extra session. The Warriors' start point guard scored13 points in overtime to finish with 28 points for the game.
Ultimately, the Warriors claimed a 127-123 overtime win.
For a young Lakers' team, simply pushing the Warriors to overtime seemed like a victory, even if the win-loss totals at the end of the night disagreed. The Lakers' pair of 20-year-old no. 2 picks both seemed to take a major step forward.
Ball made three three-pointers in a game at Staples Center for the first time in his young career, and the rookie point guard outplayed his rather high-profile opposite number with a national audience watching for four quarters.
At the end of regulation, Curry had managed 15 points, seven assists and four assists on 1-7 shooting from three-point land and five turnovers to go along with it. Curry was legitimately shooting up air balls from three-point land. Meanwhile, Ball had put up 15 points on 5-11 shooting from the field, to go along with nine assists, two rebounds, a steal and only two turnovers. Eventually, Ball rearned his double-double with 15 points and 10 assists.
The overtime belonged to Curry, of course. For four quarters, though, Ball held his own against the two-time champion, and the rookie finally looked confident shooting from the type of range he comfortably attacked at UCLA.
Even more pronounced than Ball's positive performance on the night, Ingram put on a performance that should have opened eyes nationwide. The 20-year-old went head-to-head and arguably outplayed the player he is most often compared with: Durant.
Ingram scored a career-high 32 points on the night to lead all scorers and got his points more efficiently than Durant got his 29 points. Five rebounds, three assists, three steals and two block shots added to Ingram's memorable night, but seven turnovers seemed high for the 20-year-old. Durant's 29 points, seven rebounds, three assists, one steal also came with six turnovers, as the two lanky forwards cause problems for one another on both ends of the court.
After the game, Lakers coach Luke Walton said, "[Durant] is not only one of the best five offensive players in the league. He's really tough to score on. And Brandon was up for the challenge."
At one point in overtime, Ingram even stole the ball from Durant on one end and won the foot race to the opposite basket. Ingram even manged to draw a foul in the act of shooting by the former Oklahoma City Thunder forward. Had Ingram converted the shot, the Lakers could have potentially tied the game with 15.1 seconds remaining in the extra frame.
That singular play embodied Ingram's aggressiveness and focus on both ends and the floor. In front of a national audience and against the defending champions, the Lakers didn't play like a team incapable of beating the Warriors.
The Lakers' young talent has often been compared to the Warriors' model of building a champion, a comparison that leaped forward significantly after Walton left his assistant coaching job in Golden State to bring a similar playing philosophy to Los Angeles.
On Wednesday night, the Lakers looked closer to catching the Warriors than they had at any point in recent years.
For Golden State, all five starters scored in double figures, and Draymond Green came within one assist of a triple-double. The former Michigan State Spartan scored 15 points, pulled down 11 rebounds and assisted on nine baskets in the victory. The Lakers' version of Green, Julius Randle, made nine of his 13 shot attempts and finished with 20 points off the bench in a positive performance.
Jordan Clarkson also scored 19 points on 9-19 shooting from the field, while Klay Thompson scored 20 points on 6-12 shooting from the field for Golden State.
Apart from the players matching up pretty evenly, the similarities between the Warriors and Lakers were eerie. Both teams finished with 30 assists, converted 47 field goals and had 19 fast break points. After four quarters, both teams had 109 points, too.
Four quarters of basketball could not separate the Lakers and Warriors on Wednesday night, and even the overtime period required a rare miss at the free throw line from Curry, along with a botched rebound off the miss foul shot for the Lakers. Had the Lakers grabbed the rebound, they would have had a chance to tie the game or even win it with a three-point play--conventional or otherwise.
Instead, Curry got fouled again. This time, he hit both foul shots, and that made the game a two-possession contest with not enough time for the Lakers to get two useful possessions.
With the victory, the Warriors improved to 16-6, while the Lakers dropped to 8-13 with the defeat. Next, the Lakers travel to Denver on Saturday.