Brandon Ingram was quiet. Ben Simmons refused to take jumpshots. Yet the first NBA matchup between this year’s top two overall picks ended in fireworks thanks to D’Angelo Russell.
The Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers played what was mostly a tedious game at the Las Vegas Summer League on Saturday night. In the waning moments, however, the game got close. Russell tied things up at 67-all before Philadelphia point guard T.J. McConnell went coast-to-coast for what could have been a game winner. Instead, with less than two seconds remaining, Russell once again showed that he has ice water in his veins, hitting a 3 to give the Lakers a win:
Now, given the close proximity of L.A. to Vegas, and given that this was such a heralded matchup of the NBA’s future, Lakers fans packed the Thomas & Mack Center. I’ve been going to LVSL for six years now, and I’ve never seen the arena so full.
The NBA announces today's 16,208 spectators is the Las Vegas Summer League's single-day attendance record.
They were vocal throughout the evening, often offering some not-so-kind words of encouragement to Russell. All was forgiven in the end; when he hit that game winner, the place erupted like it was Game 7 of the NBA Finals:
You have to hand it to Lakers fans. They know how to react in big moments. And, to be fair, there were quite a few Sixers fans in the audience. But they were outnumbered and, in the end, outdone by the Lakers. As for the high-profile rookies? Simmons finished with eight points (on 3-for-8 shooting), 10 rebounds and eight assists. He really did refuse to take any shots from outside; he also threw some ridiculous passes that showed why the Sixers are considering playing him at point guard. Ingram, meanwhile, finished with seven points, four rebounds, and an assists. He was 3-for-12 from the floor, including 0-for-3 from deep.
That game winner wasn’t the end of the fireworks for Russell, though. After the game, he let loose with a quick curse word, telling ESPN’s J.A. Adande, "I played like [expletive]." (The following clip is NSFW, naturally):
D'Angelo Russell really said he "played like s***" & "trust the process" in his postgame interview 😂 NSFWhttps://t.co/mLQZnfISce