LAS VEGAS – The 76ers Summer League contingent will start the playoffs Wednesday evening when they match up against Lonzo Ball and the Los Angeles Lakers in front of what is sure to be a loud and supportive Lakers crowd.
Ball, who sat out the team’s last game against the Sacramento Kings and their No. 5 draft pick, De’Aaron Fox, is expected to play and bring with him all of the surrounding hoopla. For Lakers’ games, there has been a special section carved out, away from other fans, for the Ball family. He brings about a buzz like no other when he enters the gym, primarily because many Lakers fans have made the trek east to see their organizational changing player.
“I look forward to it but I wouldn’t say I concern myself with it,” said forward Jonah Bolden, who was at UCLA while Ball was being recruited. “Each game is the same goal – to get the win. So no difference this game.”
Bolden has shined here in Vegas, with energy and versatility for a big man. The team has been experimenting with him play both the power forward and center spot and he has shown a very nice shooting touch from outside the three point line.
“I take each game as it is,” he said. “Coach tells me what he needs me to do every game and I just go out and try my best. The goal is to play as hard and as best as I can, getting my teammates involved and having real team success.”
While he won’t admit it, getting a win against Ball and the Lakers may have a little extra special meaning, as the two could have been teammates at UCLA had Bolden not gone over to the EuroLeage last season.
“I was there for three weeks during the summer before I left [for Serbia] and him and T.J. Leaf and the freshmen were there. They kind of kept to themselves because they were freshmen so me and him didn’t really have a great relationship. It would have been fun [playing at UCLA with Ball], but I wouldn’t say I’d change anything. I’m happy for the success they had and the success I had. It would have been fun for sure.”
Instead he was chosen by the Sixers with the 36th pick and, probably following another year overseas, may have a very good shot at making the roster in a couple of seasons.
“[I’ve shown] my versatility, being able to guard the four and fives and then switching on the guards [in pick and rolls] and being able to guard the ones and the twos or threes,” he said. “My ability to get the rebound and push the floor, create for others. My shooting ability – it’s been kind of inconsistent but I still believe in my shot and I’ll keep shooting. Just showing them, in person, what I can do going against NBA-caliber players.”
Fultz sighting: Rookie Markelle Fultz was sitting on the sideline getting his sprained left ankle taped, but he appeared to have a bit of a sweat going and was in practice gear, so the possibility that he was doing some on-court activities was evident. He has been walking around without a hint of pain over the past couple of days… If the Sixers win against the Lakers, they would play the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday at 10:30 Philadelphia time with a chance to keep advancing. A loss to Los Angeles would mean a Friday game (8:30) in the consolation round and that would be it, win or lose.