LOS ANGELES (CBSLA/AP) — Andre Ingram waited 10 years for his shot, and when it finally came, he didn’t disappoint.
The 32-year-old rookie, who the Los Angeles Lakers signed Monday for the remaining two games of the season, put up an incredible 19 points Tuesday night against the Houston Rockets in his NBA debut.
Ingram, the 14th oldest rookie in league history, made his debut after playing 384 games — a full decade — in the developmental G League, including parts of the past six years with the Lakers’ own affiliate, the South Bay Lakers.
Ingram hit his very first shot, a 3-pointer, and finished 6-for-8 from the field and 4-for-5 on 3-pointers, along with three rebounds, three blocked shots and a steal. His fourth 3-pointer with 51 seconds left trimmed Houston’s lead to 102-99, but the Lakers still fell 105-99.
The former American University physics major is the career leader in 3-pointers in the G-League, where he has hit 713 threes at an accuracy of 46 percent. However, his slight stature kept him out of the NBA until now.
“It was excellent,” Ingram said with a broad grin. “Once we went out as a team for warmups, I just felt some electricity out there. It was amazing. The crowd, the lights, it was just once in a lifetime. It was awesome.”
Ingram’s 19 points were the most by a Lakers rookie debut since Nick Van Exel in 1993.
According to Basketball Reference, he also had the highest scoring NBA debut of anyone over age 30.
Ingram had flown his wife and two daughters in from Virginia to watch the culmination of their work.
“When he said he was being called up to the Lakers, I literally lost it, and started screaming,” his wife Marilee said.
Ingram played briefly in Australia, but mostly declined chances to play overseas because he was determined to earn an NBA shot through the minors.
“My story is endurance, the full story of it is,” Ingram told the TNT crew after the game. “But there were times, of course, it didn’t seem it would happen. I kept coming back because I genuinely felt I was close, like each year. And so I passed up a lot of overseas opportunities, I wanted to play in this league, I knew that from the start.”
He once tutored teammates in math to make extra cash in the offseason.
“I told him I heard about his story, and that grind is unbelievable,” the also 32-year-old Rockets All-Star point guard Chris Paul said. “I told him, ‘Much respect.’ I mean, 10 years grinding in the G League, to finally get an opportunity and to play like that, it’s pretty special.”
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)