Larry Nance Jr. was back in Los Angeles having his sprained wrist examined. D’Angelo Russell was resting in preparation for USA Basketball training camp on Monday. Even Summer League Head Coach Jesse Mermuys had the night off.
Still, the Lakers managed to battle down to the final possession thanks to sterling performances from their 2016 draft class.
Brandon Ingram erupted for 22 points, five rebounds and four assists, while Ivica Zubac piled up 16 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks during the Lakers’ 92-88 loss to Utah in a consolation game at the Las Vegas Summer League.
Ingram, who had struggled at Summer League before breaking out in the finale against the Jazz, looked particularly sharp on offense, shooting 9-of-13 from the field while hitting from all over the floor, including on a few turnaround jumpers.
With Russell watching from the sidelines, Ingram even took over as one of the team’s secondary ball handlers.
“We wanted to keep him aggressive, get him the ball on the block and at the elbows — areas we felt that he he was comfortable,” said Theo Robertson, who filled in for Mermuys. “And he was able to knock some shots down. We were also pleased with his ability to playmake down there.
“He didn’t force anything when he got in the paint and he drew two (defenders) and was able to drop to some of our bigs or kick out to shooters.”
Ingram had averaged just 9.8 points on 31.6 percent shooting at Summer League prior to this breakout. He was particularly cold entering on a three-game slump that saw him hit just 7-of-29.
Despite ending on a crescendo, Ingram had a tempered evaluation of his performance in Vegas.
“It was OK,” Ingram said. “I think as a player you’re never satisfied. I think I could have shot the ball a lot better, and on the defensive end I could have been a lot better.”
Meanwhile, Zubac continued to wow in his first week of competitive American basketball.
His double-double was efficient on the offensive end, where he shot 8-of-14; game-changing on the defensive end, where he locked down the paint with his six pack of swats; and crucial on the boards, where he handed the Lakers more possessions with six offensive rebounds.
“I’m still trying to figure out how he went in the second round,” Anthony Brown said. “Two or three years, I can’t see why he can’t be like Marc Gasol. I mean seriously, he’s talented.”
While the 19-year-old clearly isn’t currently on the same level as Gasol — the former Defensive Player of the Year and First Team All-NBA selection that Zubac considers his basketball idol — he put on a show at Summer League.
Zubac’s family and friends back in Croatia woke up at 4:30 a.m. to watch him play in Vegas, and they weren’t disappointed, as he averaged 10.6 points and 7.2 rebounds in 23.2 minutes.
“I knew I was going to let everybody see what I have and prove myself (for) why they picked me,” Zubac said. “But I didn’t know I was gonna play like this.”
Missed It By That Much
The Lakers led for the majority of the first half, but the Jazz used a 28-19 third quarter to take control down the stretch. However, the Lakers held tough behind Ingram and Zubac.
Down by three with 9.3 seconds left, Los Angeles inbounded to Ingram, who was unable to get an open look. Eventually the ball found its way to Anthony Brown.
The sophomore scored a dozen points in the final quarter but his game-tying triple was well off the mark, as the Lakers ended Summer League with a 3-2 record after falling to Cleveland the night before in the tournament round of 16.
No. 52 pick Joel Bolomboy led the way for Utah with 20 points on 9-of-12 shooting with seven rebounds. Meanwhile, Dionte Christmas and Spencer Butterfield supported him with matching 14-point games and 4-of-6 clips.
Robertson is a coach on Luke Walton’s staff who will focus primarily on player development. …
Brown had his best game of Summer League with 15 points and six rebounds, but shot just 5-of-13. … Xavier Munford (11 points, 3-of-11) and Zach Auguste (two points, 1-of-4) started for Russell and Nance, respectively. … Russell will be joined by Ingram and Julius Randle at the four-day USA camp to help the U.S. Men’s National Team prepare for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.