Here is what you need to know before the Lakers face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round of the Summer League tournament.
1) Lonzo has taken Summer League by storm
After reaching a triple-double on Saturday and piling up 36 points on Wednesday, all eyes in Vegas are on Lonzo Ball.
Ball was a one-man offense in the second half of Wednesday’s win over Philadelphia, having entered halftime with only eight points before heating up through his aggressive play in the paint.
While Ball’s scoring total was 12 points more than any game of his at UCLA, that number still sells his performance short. The 19-year-old was all over the court, adding 11 assists, eight rebounds, five steals and two blocks to his total.
Ball — who leads the Summer League in assists with 9.0 per game — has also consistently wowed with his passing, especially on a couple of outlet passes to Kyle Kuzma, who had flashbacks to the 2007 Patriots.
2) The Lakers pulled off a 15-point comeback to advance
When the Lakers trailed the 76ers, 71-56, with 17 minutes remaining on Wednesday, it didn’t seemed like they had much of a chance to make it to round two.
But that’s when Lonzo went to work, as he scored 23 of his 36 points from that point on.
Down by two with 21 seconds left, Ball stole the lead on an and-1 layup before Philadelphia responded on the other end. That’s when Kuzma inbounded the ball to the most experienced player on the court. (See below)
3) Zubac snapped out his his slump last game
Ivica Zubac capped off his best game of Summer League by drawing a foul off Kuzma’s pass. The 7-foot-1 center looked like a cool-headed guard at the line, calmly swishing two free throws to cap off the Lakers’ comeback.
Zubac entered that night with only 20 points through three games, but managed to eclipse that total by dropping 21 on the Sixers.
While Zubac only managed three rebounds, he did practice efficiency with his attempts, going 7-of-11 from the field and 7-of-10 on foul shots. He also added pairs of steals and blocks on the other side of the ball.
4) Kuzma has been the Lakers’ go-to scorer
Kuzma, the draft’s 27th pick, has been Ball’s primary receiver, and the result has been him leading the Lakers with 17.7 points per game.
Offensively, Kuzma has shown a skill set of 3-point shooting, post-up scoring and (most importantly with Ball) running the floor in transition. He dropped 31 points in Saturday’s loss to Boston and hit a clutch corner triple with about a minute left versus Philadelphia.
Known as a scorer and rebounder in college, Kuzma got around to showing off that latter skill against the Sixers, pulling down 12 rebounds, including four on the offensive boards.
5) Cleveland enters this game undefeated in Vegas
Sure, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving may have stopped playing at Summer League ages ago, but that doesn’t mean that the Cavaliers can’t be a threat to win it all in Las Vegas.
In fact, they have a pretty good shot at doing just that if they keep playing the way they have been. They are 3-0 so far, having smashed Milwaukee and Golden State by 46 points combined and defeated Houston in overtime.
The Cavs boast a roster that includes two NBA players: Cleveland reserve point guard Kay Fielder — who has struggled with his shot in Vegas (11-of-43) — and 7-foot-3 center Edy Tavares — who was recently named NBA G League Defensive Player of the Year.
Cleveland has been able to lock its opponents down defensively thus far into Summer League, and the Lakers will have to exorcise some ghosts from the past in order to advance, as Felder and the Cavs were the ones who eliminated them from last Summer League.
Tip-Off: 7:30 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes in L.A. ESPN 2 nationally
Radio: ESPN 710