LAS VEGAS (AP) — Josh Hart scored 37 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 112-109 double-overtime victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday in the semifinals of the NBA Summer League.
Los Angeles advanced to the championship game for a second straight year after winning the 2017 title behind game MVP Kyle Kuzma and league MVP Lonzo Ball.
The Lakers will play the winner of the second semifinal between Portland and Memphis.
“That was a tough, gut-it-out win … it was a battle,” Hart said. “This team is tough, it’s gutty and we’re determined to win.”
Xavier Rathan-Mayes made the play of the game when he snatched a loose ball and fed Jeff Ayres with a pretty touch pass under the basket with 45 seconds left in the second overtime. Rathan-Mayes followed Ayres’ lay-in with a slashing lay-up to put the Lakers up 110-106 with 22 seconds left.
“I got great guys around me in Josh and Svi (Mykhailiuk), guys that can make plays and score the basketball, it’s my job just to contribute and do the little things, knock down shots when I need to and run the offense,” Rathan-Mayes said. “That was part of it, I was able to get a (loose ball), get a touch pass to Jeff where he was able to get a dunk. And I knew they were gonna load on Josh, I just told him to come to my side, they did that, Collin (Sexton) went over and doubled and I was able to knock down a shot. It was big for us.”
Cleveland’s Billy Preston missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Mykhailiuk scored 31 points for the Lakers (6-0), while Ayres added 20.
Sexton led the Cavaliers with 27 points, while Jamel Artis and John Holland each scored 17.
Trailing 105-102 in the first overtime after Sexton made a short jumper, Rathan-Mayes buried a 3-pointer to tie the score. Hart made it 106-105 by hitting the second of two free throws with 5.7 seconds remaining. Sexton did the same at the other end, splitting two free throws and tying it at 106 with 3.3 seconds left.
The Cavaliers (5-2) erased an early 11-point deficit and tied the score at 95, when Vladimir Brodziansky buried a 3-pointer with 2:00 left in regulation.
After Mykhailiuk made one of two free throws to give the Lakers a 96-95 lead with a little more than a minute left, Hart grabbed a defensive rebound and at the other end dished to Mykhailiuk, who hit a running jumper just above the free throw line to push the lead to 98-95.
But Sexton answered with a 3-pointer to tie the score with 26 seconds left. Hart missed a 3-pointer with 3.0 seconds left, and Sexton missed one from long range at the buzzer.
The Lakers went on an 18-2 run to take a 28-17 lead led by Mykhailiuk, who was 4-for-4 from long-range in the first quarter. Los Angeles shot 50 percent (9 of 18) in the opening period and was 5 for 9 (55 percent) from beyond the 3-point line.
Hart took over in the second quarter, scoring 10 of his 14 first-half points to help the Lakers take a 50-47 lead at halftime.
While Hart is a leading candidate for MVP of the entire summer league, he said he’s not worried about following in the footsteps of Ball, who was awarded the honor last season.
“It’s a testament to the hard work I put in this off season, but I don’t go for individual accolades, that’s never been a reason why I played this game – I play this game to win,” Hart said. “If we win, that’s the biggest thing. I came here to win, I came here to dominate and that’s what I want to do tomorrow.”
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