LAS VEGAS — LeBron James sat baseline as all eyes in the stands gravitated toward him.
Lonzo Ball opted to wear Nikes instead of his signature Big Baller Brand ZO2 and had a monster night.
Alex Poythress swatted a block out of bounds with so much force he broke a laptop screen.
All the while, a basketball game was played.
The first-round game of tournament play in the Las Vegas Summer League between the Sixers and Lakers came down to the final seconds. The excitement was fitting for a matchup surrounded by fanfare and buzz from start to finish.
The Lakers eliminated the Sixers from summer league tournament contention with a 103-102 victory on Wednesday (Instant Replay). The Sixers will play a consolation game on Friday.
Ball managed to draw some attention away from James in the second half when he exploded on the offensive end. After scoring just eight points before halftime, he finished with a game-high 36 points (12 for 22 from the field, 3 for 10 from three, 9 for 12 from the line). Ball added 11 assists, eight rebounds, five steals, six turnovers and two blocks in 36 minutes (see highlights).
The No. 2 pick in last month’s draft shifted into another gear heading into the third quarter and took advantage of gaps he saw in the Sixers’ defense.
“Coming off the ball screens, it was kind of open lane,” Ball said. “The whole time it’s been like that, I’ve just been settling. I talked to (Lakers head coach) Luke (Walton) about getting to the basket a little bit more. That’s what I did tonight.”
The Sixers surrendered a 15-point lead in the second half. Even though Furkan Korkmaz looked more comfortable and scored 19 points (8 for 14 from the field), Poythress posted 19 points, Larry Drew II dished eight assists to go along with 15 points, and both Isaiah Briscoe and James Blackmon Jr. provided offensive sparks off the bench, they were all overshadowed by Ball’s performance.
“He’s a good player,” Briscoe, who scored 12 points in 8½ minutes, said. “That’s his team and he took control of his team.”
Yes, Ball dominated. Ironically, he made a huge statement on the court by wearing the Nike Kobe ADs and not Big Baller Brand.
“You know, Mamba mentality,” Ball said. “Thought I’d switch it up. I wore them tonight. It’s good when you can wear whatever you want.”