LAS VEGAS - The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Philadelphia 76ers, 70-69, thanks to a buzzer beating three-point game-winner by D'Angelo Russell.
"He has a chance to be special," Lakers summer league coach Jesse Mermuys said about Russell after the game. "These are the types of learning lessons that Summer League is about. He needs to feel what that's like and feel that situation, feel an ugly game and then come out with a win and hit a big shot."
Mermuys added, "That's part of his development."
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On a night when the focus was on the top two picks in the 2016 NBA Draft, Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram, going head-to-head, second year players Larry Nance Jr. and Russell stole the show in the second half.
Ingram failed to hit his first eight shot attempts and only had one point on the board after three quarters. However, the Lakers' rookie did hit three of his last four shots and played a vital role in the late comeback.
"I think that when you don't knock shots down, you've got to find a way to do something else and try to impact the game in another way," Ingram talked about how he continued to contribute during a tough outing.
Simmons, though, looked every bit as good as advertised. The top selection in the 2016 NBA Draft finished with eight points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, almost notching a triple-double. Simmons could have had more assists if his team had knocked down more of the open looks the talented forward created.
However, Simmons did also commit seven turnovers, which was a testament to Nance, who guarded the versatile forward for the vast majority of the contest. In truth, Ingram and Simmons never truly went head-to-head, and the for the handful of possessions the top two picks were matched up, a one-on-one scenario did not materialize.
Friday night's game was about redemption for the Lakers, who had looked far too sloppy in the first half. Nance and Russell committed nine of the Lakers' 13 first half giveaways, but the relatively experienced duo bounced back and led the comeback in the second half.
Nance finished with 13 points, seven steals, eight rebounds, four blocks and four assists. His high-flying dunks and defensive activity was appreciated by the pro-Lakers crowd at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. At one point, the crowd even began chanting "M-V-P" when Nance stepped up to the free throw line.
At the end of the night, though, Russell stole the show. The Lakers' no. 1 scored 11 of his game-high 22 points in the fourth quarter, including two supremely clutch shots: a long two-pointer to tie the game at 67 with 8.0 seconds remaining and a buzzer-beating three-pointer to win the game 70-69.
"There wasn't a doubt in my mind it was going in," Nance said about Russell's game winner. "You can tell when somebody's in that groove and he just had it."
Nance added, "He's got ice in his veins."