It’s been said of the college game that put Collin Sexton on the map – with Alabama nearly beating 14th-ranked Minnesota with only three players – that the final score barely mattered. It was the Young Bull’s performance that left an indelible mark.
The same could be said of Monday night’s semifinal showdown in Vegas. The Lakers, behind Josh Hart’s 37 points, won the game – a 112-109 double-overtime thriller. But as far as Cavalier fans go, it was Cleveland’s fearless rookie guard who stole the show at Summer League.
The former Crimson Tide standout finished with 27 points on 9-for-22 shooting, nearly willing the Wine & Gold to the finals with a heroic effort down the stretch and in the extra-sessions adding three boards, two assists and a pair of steals.
Sexton drilled the game-tying triple with 26 seconds to go in regulation, pulling up for the bomb on the next possession after L.A.’s Sviatolslav Mykhailiuk banked home a 20-footer to put the Lakers up. In the first OT session, he scored the Cavs’ final five points of the period, including a free throw to extend the contest.
The regular season matchups between the Lakers and Cavaliers will take on a new meaning this season. And while Monday’s contest won’t produce the same drama of those two meetings, it was certainly a white-knuckle affair throughout.
There were 13 ties and 16 lead-changes – with neither team leading by more than three points until the final minute of the second overtime period. Cleveland shot 46 percent to L.A.’s 45 and both squads shot 37 percent from beyond the arc.
The Cavaliers were once again without the services of their international sophomores – Ante Zizic and Cedi Osman – both who saw plenty of action before tournament play tipped off. Osman had already played two games with his Turkey squad in the European Qualifiers. Zizic flew back to Europe to watch Croatia face off against France in the World Cup.
Jamel Artis had another solid showing, finishing with 17 points on 6-for-11 shooting, adding six boards, three helpers and a steal.
John Holland also pitched in with 17 points, going 5-of-10 from the floor, including 3-of-7 from beyond the arc.
Scoochie Smith, Billy Preston and Vladmir Brodziansky all notched double-figures off the bench for Cleveland.
Smith saw 27 minutes of action in the loss, playing the point down the stretch and in OT as Sexton and he traded time playing off the ball – finishing with 14 points on 4-of-12 shooting, adding five boards and a team-best five assists.
Preston canned a wild three-pointer in the second overtime session, but couldn’t drain the game-tying bomb at the end of the contest. Cleveland’s two-way signee went on to finish with 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting. And Brodziansky, who’s been impressive in stretches in Las Vegas, added 10 points of his own, going 4-of-8 from the field to go with six boards and a blocked shot.
Josh Hart, a returning second-year player for the Lakers, led everyone with 37 points on 13-for-28 shooting, canning six triples in 15 attempts. Mykhailiuk, getting the start at small forward, was almost as impressive, adding 31 points, going 12-of-20 from the floor, including 6-of-11 from deep.
James Posey’s Summer League squad finished at 5-2, nearly reaching the title game without two of their top three players. The next time we see most of the familiar faces from the past couple weeks will be when Training Camp tips off in late September.