ICE. IN. HIS. VEINS. Okay, recap over.
The Lakers LVSL squad improved to 2-0 with a sloppy, disastrous, invigorating, action-packed come from behind 70-69 victory over Philadelphia on Saturday night. With all the hype surrounding the match up of the top two picks in the draft, Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram, the Thomas & Mack Center gave off nearly a playoff game feel.
Through basically three quarters of basketball, the Lakers struggled mightily and were hard to watch. It was a back-to-back and that showed. Shots weren’t falling, the team had numerous careless turnovers, but the far more imperative thing was they never stopped fighting.
The team ended up shooting a meager 36.2 percent from the field and 31.8 percent from distance. Lazy passes were flying everywhere for both teams which accounted for most of the Lakers 18 turnovers (yikes).
The real momentum of the game shifted with one player – second year forward Larry Nance, Jr. He was absolutely everywhere on the court and the Lakers faithful that were on hand in Vegas took notice with multiple “LAR-RY” chants and even an “MVP” chant erupting in the arena.
Nance, Jr changed the game with a few dunks that could qualify as rim abuse during a 11-2 run to finish the third quarter. His stat line flawlessly resembled the impact on the game Nance had, as he poured in 13 points, eight rebounds, seven steals, and four blocked shots in 35 minutes of action.
Brandon Ingram was the player with all eyes on him in this game due to the matchup with number one pick Ben Simmons. Ingram struggled for most of the game with his shot (3-12 from the field) but found it down the stretch when it mattered most. After missing all of his field goal attempts and scoring only one point up until the final six minutes of the game, Ingram was able to knock down a few long two’s (shoutout to Byron) and tally seven points. Ingram defended well, altering shots at the rim throughout the night and was able to pull down four rebounds as well.
In his second game, Zach Auguste was a real force down low for the team alongside Larry Nance, Jr. The forward out of Notre Dame was relentless on the offensive and defensive glass totaling seven rebounds in just over 20 minutes of playing time. Auguste also added eight points on an efficient 4-6 from the field. With only a few roster spots left for the regular season, look for Auguste to be a name that might get a considerable look if he can continue his level of play.
After a terrific debut last night, 19-year-old Ivica Zubac was able to follow it up with a solid overall performance in the second game. Besides being on the receiving end of a vicious dunk by Jerami Grant, Zubac positioned himself nicely to contest countless shots inside the paint. ZuBlocka added seven points and eight rebounds in just over 22 minutes.
Fittingly, in closing, we get to D’Angelo Russell. On Friday night against the Pelicans he was far and away the best player on the court and showed it without much effort. This game was more of an up and down battle for Russell as he again struggled with his shot to start. Not only was his shooting off but he was having issues handling the pressure at times and threw too many lethargic passes that resulted in his six turnovers. Defensively he could have given more effort but its Summer League so we’ll just hope that changes come time for the regular season.
As mentioned, it was Larry Nance who kept the team in the game but Russell was the ultimate closer down the stretch. We saw this a few times last season but D’Angelo really likes to shine in the fourth quarter. Hitting big shot after big shot, the second year point guard dropped in 22 points (on 8-20 shooting), one game winner, and one “ice in my veins” celebration.
Russell had tied the game with under 10 seconds left on a deep jumper which had everyone at the T&M Center going wild. The Sixers wasted no time getting the ball in play and TJ McConnell was able to go the length of the court for a layup giving his team a 69-67 lead with 1.8 seconds left. Lakers LVSL Head Coach Jesse Mermuys called time out and drew up a play to give Russell a chance at the hoop, and Russell delivered.
There is an odd yet stimulating feeling surrounding this years team and that comes from the reality that they do not give up. Although its been just two games into Summer League, its certainly encouraging. When the shots weren’t going in, through the tired legs, lazy passes, and posters (RIP Zubac), the team was resilient. They seemed to know that if they hung around, things would start going their way eventually. And they did.
The team’s next summer league game is on Monday at 10:30 ET against the Golden State Warriors.