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Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball hooked up to break the 76ers' hearts

You can play it cool all you like, Brandon Ingram, but Larry Nance Jr. and Lonzo Ball are very excited you made that game-winning 3-pointer. (AP)

Eight nights ago, Brandon Ingram showed a national audience that he might be ready to start taking a step into the spotlight, going toe-to-toe with prototype design/reigning NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant in a game that the Golden State Warriors needed overtime to win … after Ingram missed a shot on the final play of the fourth quarter that would’ve clinched it before OT.

Eight nights ago, LaVar Ball made headlines — quelle surprise! — for telling ESPN that the Los Angeles Lakers blew their chance to knock off the defending champions when head coach Luke Walton called a timeout in the closing seconds of regulation. To hear the elder Ball tell it, had Walton let the play unfold and had power forward Julius Randle kicked the ball ahead, his son, point guard Lonzo Ball, would’ve been able to streak to the cup for a layup or drill an open 3-pointer in transition to give the Lakers the win.

On Thursday, Ingram, Walton and Lonzo all got another chance in the dying seconds of a hyped-up nationally televised game. They all made the most of it.

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After the Lakers’ Randle managed to get a stop in the post on Sixers behemoth Joel Embiid, Ball rebounded the miss and sent the Lakers off on the break with just over 10 seconds left and the score tied at 104. Despite Philly hustling back in transition and having a timeout in his pocket, Walton decided to let the Lakers play, and Ball pulled it back out, passing to a trailing Ingram on the right wing — who, realizing Ball could not have been more open, quickly kicked it to Lonzo in the far corner.

As Embiid raced out from the paint to close out on him — it’s easy to wonder why JoJo ran at a guy who’s having one of the worst shooting seasons by a rookie in a half-century, but guys are programmed not to want to give up open 3s — Ball drove the baseline, drawing attention from all five Sixers. That included Robert Covington, who had been guarding Ingram. Ball whipped a pass back out to Ingram, who set his feet, rose, fired and drilling a 3-pointer over Covington’s outstretched hand to put the Lakers up by three with 0.8 seconds remaining.

Was it the most aggressive play Lonzo could’ve made? No. No, it wasn’t.



It proved to be the right one, though. The Sixers’ attempt at an answer on the other end — a quick inbounds for a Richaun Holmes heave — didn’t even approach the rim, and the Lakers had sealed a 107-104 win and secured a measure of revenge after Embiid’s monster game in L.A. last month.

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The Lakers took control late in the first quarter, capitalizing on lackadaisical Sixers defense with Ball pushing the pace and aggressive takes by Ingram, Randle and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to take a 32-25 lead after 12 minutes.



Some highlight-reel exceptions aside from the likes of Embiid, Ben Simmons and Holmes …



… Philly continued to mostly sleepwalk through the second quarter, failing to take advantage of L.A. going cold from the floor (9-for-24 from the field) and heading into intermission down 57-49.

After the Lakers’ persistent defensive work had helped them build a 16-point lead with 3:50 to go in the third quarter, the Sixers finally woke up, ripping off a 13-2 run to get back within five points with 44 second left in the frame. Narcolepsy reared its ugly head again, though, with Simmons committing a pair of turnovers that turned into a pair of Laker buckets, including a wild chuck from Lakers center Andrew Bogut (that’s right: he’s on the Lakers!) just before quarter’s end to send L.A. into the fourth with a 79-70 advantage.

After a pair of quick 3s by reserve guards Jordan Clarkson and Josh Hart inflated the lead back to 15, the Sixers started to make a push, energized by a jumbo frontcourt of Embiid, Simmons and Holmes, a former second-round pick out of Bowling Green whose strides as a screener, dive man, 3-point pick-and-pop threat, shot-blocker, rebounder and attacker helped contribute to the steady recession of Jahlil Okafor from view in Philadelphia.



Embiid and Holmes combined for 27 of Philly’s 34 fourth-quarter points, punishing the smaller Lakers inside to chip away at the lead. Every time the Sixers got close, though, L.A. responded. More often than not, the answer came off the fingertips of Randle, a 6-foot-9 power forward masquerading as a center who just refused to be outgunned by the bigger Sixers.

The former Kentucky standout scored 10 of his 16 points in the fourth, including a tough layup on a beautiful twisting wraparound interior feed by Ingram to put the Lakers back on top 103-101 with just over two minutes to go:


He also stood tall against Embiid on the block, coming up with a steal to stifle a Philly possession with 1:45 to go and helping influence Embiid into a miss with 12 ticks left that set the stage for the game-winner. Randle helped get the Lakers to the finish line on Thursday night, and then Ingram and Ball got them through the tape.

Ingram led seven Lakers in double figures with 21 points (albeit on 7-for-21 shooting) to go with seven rebounds, six assists, one block, two turnovers and one pretty important post-game seal of approval from the front office:


Ball added 10 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, four blocks and three steals without a turnover in 38 minutes of strong work running the show for L.A., which improved to 9-15 with the win.

Embiid led the way for Philadelphia with 33 points on 11-for-17 shooting, seven rebounds, six assists, five blocks and a steal. Simmons posted his third triple-double of the season, with 12 points, 15 assists and 13 rebounds, while Covington added 19 points (4-for-6 from 3-point land) and six rebounds.

All three committed four turnovers, though, contributing to a night of unforced errors in which the Sixers coughed it up 18 times leading to 25 Laker points. Those miscues, combined with frequently unfocused defense and an inability to string together multiple positive plays in a row for most of the first 2 1/2 quarters of the game, allowed the Lakers to build an early lead and hold off the Sixers late, giving L.A.’s two highly touted 20-year-olds a chance to hook up on the final possession and send Philly fans home unhappy.

Even in victory, the young Lakers still had lessons to learn …


… and roastings to take …


… but Ingram and Ball might’ve taken a big step forward by stepping up when it mattered most.


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Dan Devine is a writer and editor for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@oath.com or follow him on Twitter!