Brandon Ingram's Lakers edge Ben Simmons' 76ers in hyped matchup

ByOhm Youngmisuk ESPN logo
Sunday, July 10, 2016

LAS VEGAS -- It started out sloppy, but then there were thunderous Slam Dunk Contest-worthy dunks followed by a stirring comeback capped off by a scintillating buzzer-beating game-winning 3-pointer.

Ben Simmons versus Brandon IngramPart I was a thriller even if the first meeting between the NBA's top two draft picks didn't exactly live up to the hype surrounding the two prospects.

While Simmons at times dazzled a raucous and almost completely filled Thomas & Mack Center with an array of no-look passes and a near triple-double, Ingram struggled with only seven points.

However, Ingram'sLakersbackcourt mate,D'Angelo Russell, helped Los Angeles erase a 16-point third-quarter deficit before burying a rainbow 3-pointer at the end to edge the Philadelphia 76ers70-69 before a delirious pro-Lakers crowd.

"I love it," said Simmons, who finished with 8 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists for the Sixers. "Had a good fight. Can't do too much about that [Russell] shot."

"It was Lakers versus Philly tonight," Simmons said of his first game against Ingram. "They made a big deal out of [the first two draft picks facing each other], but I came into the game to win."

There was a buzz circulating before the game as the stands began to fill quickly. NBA executives and coaches such asJerry West and Tom Thibodeau, along with scouts from all over, came out to watch the versatile and playmaking Sixers' first overall pick out ofLSUagainstthe Lakers' longscoring swingman fromDuke.

Ingram said he could feel the excitement in the arena and the pressure to perform.

"I think you kind of hype it up a little bit and you hype coming into the game and you try to get the jitters out and you try to play the game," Ingram said. "There was a lot of energy in the building tonight."

From the jump, it was easy to see the stark contrast between the two top prospects. Although the two did not cover each another, Simmons was visibly and considerably bigger and thicker at 6-foot-10 and 240 pounds than the rail-thin 6-9, 190-pound Ingram.

And the crowd got to see their different styles as well. Not long after touching the ball for the first time, Simmons delivered a soft alley-oop to Richaun Holmes for the first score of the game. He blocked centerIvica Zubac's shot, stripped Ingram on a drive and drew oohs from the crowd when he dida Hakeem Olajuwon-like Dream shake move in the post before missing a shot.

However, Simmons -- who handled the ball for some stretches but not exclusively while he was on the court -- did have seven turnovers, two coming in the first six minutes as both teams struggled to shoot.

The Lakers backed off and practically dared Simmons to shoot. The facilitator shot just 3-for-8, often driving and trying to create for teammates.

"I think [the hype and atmosphere] affected both sides and both teams," Sixers summer league coach Lloyd Pierce said. "In terms of [Simmons'] poise and confidence, I don't think he was rattled one bit. I think he just wanted to get it started from the jump."

The Lakers and Sixers scored a combined 25 points and made a total of nine shots together in an ugly first quarter. Ingram didn't shoot any better. With Jerami Grant on him at times, Ingram went 0-for-7 in the first three quarters before knocking down his only three shots in the fourth and finishing 3-for-12 from the field.

It wasn't exactly how the Duke product envisioned following up his impressive 12-point, 2-block debut on Friday night in an 85-65 win over the Pelicans.

"I think he's a human being," Lakers summer league coach Jesse Mermuys said. "Yeah, I felt the pressure for him. Of course. I'm sure he felt pressure. It's easy for us to say, 'Oh, Brandon, don't worry about it. Just play your game, keep it simple.' That's really simple to say, but it's really hard to execute. So I'm sure he was probably juiced for this game."

While the crowd was looking for any highlights from Simmons and Ingram, it was Philadelphia's Grant and Los Angeles' Larry Nance Jr. who energized the crowd with a dunk show in the second half.

Grant scaled the 7-foot-1 Zubac before throwing down a rim-rattling dunk that could easily be not only the best dunk of summer league, but one of the best dunks of the upcoming regular season. That put the Sixers up 41-25 midway through the third.

But Nance Jr. thrilled the crowd with two soaring dunks, one in which he took off just inside the free throw line.

Simmons, who clearly wanted to win this game as evidenced by his fist pump and scream after one Lakers timeout in the third, kept delivering some impressive no-look passes, but Russell ultimately stole the show, scoring 11 of his 22 points in the fourth.

Philadelphia's T.J. McConnell knifed through the lane for a layup that put the Sixers up 69-67 with 1.8 seconds left. But after a timeout, Russell took the inbounds pass well beyond the arc and sank a rainbow shot with McConnell draped all over him.

Certainly, Simmons and Ingram will remember their first encounter for a long time.

"Simmons, he's great," Ingram said. "Of course, he's a great player and when he came in today he did a lot of different things. He rebounded the ball. He made his teammates better and he scored the ball."

Simmons knows he will have better games, even if he did flirt with a triple-double.

"Obviously I got to do much better than tonight," Simmons said. "Got a few more games to go and looking forward to learning from my mistakes."

"I think just learning how to handle different situations," he added. "Obviously [the fourth quarter] was going back and forth, I think we should have slowed it down a little bit. That is what we are here for, to learn."