Josh Hart won a national championship with Villanova and played major minutes for the Los Angeles Lakers last year during his rookie season.
Hart knows what a big game feels like. That’s what he felt Monday for an NBA Summer League game.
The Lakers defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 112-109 in double overtime in arguably the most exciting game of the summer. Los Angeles advanced to the Las Vegas Summer League championship game for the second straight year. They will face the Portland Trail Blazers, who beat the Memphis Grizzlies, 97-92.
Hart scored a game-high 37 points and had a competitive battle against Cavaliers’ 2018 lottery pick, Collin Sexton, who scored 27 points.
“This felt totally different,” Hart said. “I played in Final Fours. I played in the national championship, and it had a national championship-esque feel to it. … The atmosphere was amazing. For a summer league game, that is very rare.”
The Thomas & Mack Center was empty in the upper level but the noise coming from the lower section made it seem like a sold out arena.
The pro-Lakers crowd stood on its feet for the final minutes of the fourth quarter and throughout the overtime periods.
Hart and teammate Svi Mykhailiuk, who scored 31 points, carried the Lakers offensively. The two combined for 12-of-26 from 3-point range.
But it was the supporting players who lifted the Lakers in the second overtime.
Xavier Rathan-Mayes had a no-look touch pass that found Jeff Ayres wide open in the paint for a dunk to give the Lakers a 108-106 advantage in the final minute and the team never looked back.
Rathan-Mayes started for point guard Alex Caruso, who was out with an illness. Rathan-Mayes stepped up with 12 points and nine assists.
The Lakers extended their Las Vegas Summer League winning streak to 12 games. The 2017 summer champs will get a chance to repeat on Tuesday.