Russell Shocks Summer Sixers at Buzzer

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

Los Angeles 70, Philadelphia 69 – Box Score

Saturday night’s Vegas Summer League clash between the Sixers and Lakers was billed as the battle of Ben Simmons vs. Brandon Ingram, the top-two picks in the 2016 NBA draft. Instead, it was the guy Sixers fans wish had fallen to them in the 2015 draft who ended up stealing the show, as D’Angelo Russell erased a would-have-been T.J. McConnell game-winner with this buzzer-beating three to win the game.

Russell finished with a game-high 22 points, and then dropped a “Trust the Process” in the post-game interview, which is some Ramsay Bolton-level of torture for Sixers fans.

As for the aforementioned matchup between #1 and #2, score this first meeting a decisive victory for Ben Simmons. Brandon Ingram shot just 3-12 from the field for 7 points, without doing much of anything else. Meanwhile, Simmons stuffed the stat sheet with 8 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks.

One major concern was that for the first time this summer, Simmons struggled to take care of the ball, committing 7 turnovers. Mostly that was due to some sloppiness on his part, not looking overwhelmed by the role or situation, so we can chalk that up to a rookie in his third summer league game.

Still, the passing was once again off-the-charts outstanding. Simmons operates at seemingly impossible angles and guys genuinely seem surprised at times when a ball arrives out of nowhere in their lap for an easy finish. I mean, really, who does this:

Through three game, Simmons has established a floor of incredibly entertaining playmaker. If he can figure out the scoring department, Philadelphia has a bonafide superstar on its hands.

Other Game Notes:

T.J. McConnell was very steady once again, leading the team in scoring with 12 points, tallying 6 assists and 4 steals, and finishing with a team-best +11 plus/minus. The man looks too polished for Summer League play, which I’m sure is exactly what the Sixers were hoping to see.

Upon his arrival in the Las Vegas desert, Richaun Holmes continued to show his newfound outstanding rim protection was no mirage, recording another 4 blocks to go along with 10 points. He’s also cementing a roster spot for himself, even amidst a crowded frontcourt.

After a rough outside shooting game in the Utah Summer League finale, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot bounced back to knock down 2 of his 3 triples.

For the first time this summer, the Christian Wood hype train went off the tracks, as the second-year man shot just 1-6 from the field for 4 points, while also playing some piss-poor defense. Just a reminder that people (myself included) shouldn’t read too much into summer league games, but let’s give Wood the benefit of the doubt for one bad outing.

Jerami Grant went just 2-10 from the field, but one of those 2 makes was this play, which should have been scored a fatality and automatic win for the Sixers.

For the Lakers, Larry Nance, Jr. was everywhere defensively, tallying 7 steals and 4 blocked shots, while adding some hellacious dunks on the offensive end for good measure. I’m going to view this performance as another indictment of Byron Scott, not giving the young guys like Nance more burn last year at the expense of pointlessly playing veterans.

The Summer Sixers are back in action Sunday night against the Bulls at 8:30pm.

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