Number one and two draft picks Ben Simmons (25) and Brandon Ingram (14) battle for position during an NBA Summer League game at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas on Saturday, July 9, 2016. Brett Le Blanc/Las Vegas Review-Journal Follow @ ...and more »
For all but the final 1.8 seconds, the focus in the sold-out Thomas & Mack Center was on two rookies.But instead of taking center stage at the end, Ben Simmons, this yearâ€™s No. 1 overall NBA Draft pick, and Brandon Ingram, the No. 2 pick, found themselves watching Dâ€™Angelo Russell.The Los Angeles Lakersâ€™ second-year guard took Ingramâ€™s pass from beyond the 3-point arc and hit a shot as time was expiring to give the Lakers a 70-69 win over Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday in one of the more epic games in the 12-year history of the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.â€œCoach (Jesse Mermuys) drew up a great play,â€ Russell said. â€œWe ran that play in practice a few times. Executed it two times in a row, got what we wanted, and drew it up again and just finished. It was a great play. Great execution.â€Ingram said it was a basketball play he had done hundreds of times.â€œI just had faith,â€ he said. â€œThe game doesnâ€™t end until the clock is out. I just know Dâ€™Angelo is a good player, and he just knocked down a big shot.â€Ingram and Simmons struggled for much of the game. At halftime, Ingramâ€™s offense amounted to one made free throw, and Simmons had only three points.â€œItâ€™s a process,â€ Simmons said. â€œI know people were making a big deal out of that (1 vs. 2), but I didnâ€™t worry about that. I was trying to win.â€They finished with decent numbers. Ingram had seven points, four rebounds and three turnovers along with the one big assist in 28 minutes. Simmons played 31 minutes and finished with eight points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and seven turnovers.â€œI need to get better at everything,â€ said Simmons, clearly not satisfied with his stat line or that his team lost.Lloyd Pierce, the Sixersâ€™ summer league coach, said he loved how Simmons played in a game that took on a playoff-like atmosphere down the stretch.â€œBenâ€™s going to learn from this,â€ Pierce said. â€œI thought he did a lot of things well, and he was focused. He played hard. He battled. He was good with his teammates. I have no problem with what Ben did out there.â€œHe has things to work on, and heâ€™ll get better. Iâ€™d like to see him be more efficient, and to do that, he needs to make the efficient plays â€” when to shoot, when to pass.â€The Lakers are looking for similar things from Ingram.â€œWe want him to compete every day heâ€™s out there,â€ Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said. â€œHeâ€™s a gifted player with great skills. We want him working in the gym throughout the summer, get stronger, get comfortable with our system and be ready to go when training camp opens (in October).â€Russell said of Ingram: â€œI think he just needed to slow down a little bit. He didnâ€™t make the shots he knows he can make. But I feel like after a few more games, heâ€™ll figure it out that he doesnâ€™t need his shots to fall to get himself going. He can get a block, a steal, a jump ball, anything to just get himself going. I feel like the sooner he realizes that, the better he will be.â€The single-day attendance record of 12,472 â€” set last year when Russellâ€™s Lakers and Karl-Anthony Townsâ€™ Minnesota Timberwolves met â€” was shattered Saturday, as 16,208 attended the games, with the spotlight on Ingram and Simmons.â€œThere was a lot of hype coming into this game,â€ Ingram said. â€œYouâ€™re trying to get the jitters out and try to play the game, but I think there was a lot of energy in the building tonight.â€Contact Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow on Twitter: @stevecarprj.
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