LAS VEGAS — After 10 days of basketball and 60 games, Summer League action came to a close Sunday afternoon in Las Vegas with just three games and a familiar face once again stealing the show.
Adam Morrison, who earlier in the week was heckled by a few fans, got nothing but cheers – and even a short-lived “M-V-P” chant – after he took over in his finale, scoring 26 points and hitting four 3-pointers to lead L.A. to a 92-77 win over the Celtics.
“I’m used to it,” Morrison said of the heckling. “For some reason, people see me as a polarizing figure. I don’t know what it is. I’m a nice guy, I’m not rude or anything like that. Some people just like to pick on me, which I understand. It’s their right. But I guess I did OK to keep ‘em quiet for a little while.”
Morrison did more than OK in his five days here. After Sunday’s performance, Morrison boosted his average to 20.0 points and 5.0 rebounds and shot 55 percent in 33 minutes per game. The All-Summer League Team was announced — without Morrison on the list — before Sunday’s game, but Morrison is just trying to show he still belongs in the league.
“To be honest with you, it’s all about pride really,” Morrison said. “Obviously I want to make it to the NBA, but I wanted to say that I gave it my best shot. If it doesn’t work out, I can turn the page and do something else with my life.”
LAS VEGAS — Memphis guard Josh Selby and Portland point guard Damian Lillard were named co-MVPs of the Las Vegas Summer League on Sunday.
Selby, the Grizzlies’ second-year guard out of Kansas, led all players in scoring at 27.5 points per game as Memphis went 2-2 entering its final game Sunday. Selby shot 59.3 percent from the floor — including 70.6 percent on 3-pointers. Selby made at least five 3-pointers in each game, talling 24 in the four games (24-for-34). Selby was also active defensively, averaging 2.5 steals.
Lillard, whom the Blazers took sixth overall in the 2012 Draft, averaged 26.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 5.6 assists in four games. Lillard shots 43.8 percent from the floor, highlighted by a 31-point, seven-assist performance in Thursday’s 84-78 win over Atlanta. Lillard finished second in scoring (first among rookies) and sixth in assists (third among rookies).
All-Summer League Team: Josh Selby – Memphis Grizzlies
Damian Lillard – Portland Trail Blazers Malcolm Thomas – Chicago Bulls Bradley Beal – Washington Wizards Tobias Harris – Milwaukee Bucks John Henson – Milwaukee Bucks Jeremy Lamb – Houston Rockets Dominique Jones – Dallas Mavericks Cory Joseph – San Antonio Spurs Jimmy Butler – Chicago Bulls Kemba Walker – Charlotte Bobcats Donatas Motiejunas – Houston Rockets Jae Crowder – Dallas Mavericks
LAS VEGAS — The last full day of seven games featured several returning players putting up big numbers.
Phoenix’s Markieff Morris wrapped up his solid showing, putting up 25 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Suns to a 96-87 win over the Grizzlies. Morris was 10-for-17 from the floor, hit a pair of 3s and looked like the best player on the floor, impressive considering Josh Selby did his thing again for the Grizzlies, scoring 23 points to maintain his scoring lead (27.5 ppg) over Damian Lillard (26.5 ppg).
Non-rookie of the day: Malcolm Thomas, Bulls. For the fourth straight game, the SDSU big man dominated the boards, pulling down 16 to go with 21 points in Chicago’s 77-74 win over the Clippers. Thomas is opening eyes in Vegas and should find himself on a roster this fall after spending most of last season bouncing around the D-League.
Other notables: Wes Johnson, Wolves. Minnesota’s swingman is looking confident with his shot and scored 28 points Saturday to increase his scoring average to 22.7 (fourth overall). “I just need to relax and play basketball the way I know how,” Johnson said. “I don’t think I’ve lost anything.” Jimmy Butler, Bulls. The second-year guard out of Marquette scored 23 points on 6-for-10 shooting. In four games, Butler has topped 20 points three times and is sixth overall in scoring at 20.8 points to go with 6.5 boards. His role could increase this season, so Chicago fans must love seeing these numbers.
Rookie of the day: Will Barton, Trail Blazers. Portland’s second-round pick (40th overall) has been overshadowed by the team’s two lottery picks (Lillard and Meyers Leonard) but has quietly been doing a little bit of everything. Saturday, though, with the Blazers resting their top players, Barton played all 40 minutes, scoring 27 points on 10-for-17 shooting. “I’m a role player, but when I get the opportunity to be the man, I take it,” Barton said.
Other notables: Jae Crowder, Mavericks. Crowder closed out his impressive showing with 21 points and six rebounds in Dallas’ 82-76 overtime win over San Antonio. Crowder, a second-round pick (34th overall) out of Marquette, finished with five-game averages of 16.6 points and 5.4 rebounds. Crowder could be a steal out of the second round. Kendall Marshall, Suns. The point guard taken 13th overall has looked terrible here, but closed out with his best game yet, scoring 15 points (on 6-for-10 shooting, 3-for-4 on 3s) and handing out 10 assists, giving him the overall lead in assists at 6.5 per game. Also, John Henson had another good game for the Bucks (22 and nine) in an 88-87 win over Boston.
Coming up: Summer League comes to an end Sunday with just three games on the slate. Two games will air live on NBA TV — Celtics-Clippers at 6 ET and Grizzlies-Wolves at 8 ET — while the Bulls-Bucks game will be shown on replay at 4 a.m. ET. The All-Summer League teams will be announced at the end of the day.
LAS VEGAS — Two summers ago, Wes Johnson entered Summer League as one of the players to watch.
He had just been drafted fourth overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves after three seasons at Syracuse. His expectations were high, and so were the team’s.
Then, he tweaked his hamstring in the Wolves’ first game, ending his first Summer League before it could get going.
“I was frustrated,” Johnson said. “Not even one full game, so yeah, I really wanted to come out here.”
Two years later, though, things have changed and the 6-foot-7 swingman is here with much different expectations and goals. After two less-than-stellar seasons in Minnesota, Johnson is trying to get back to what made him successful at Syracuse and hoping to prove he wasn’t a wasted pick.
“I’m just trying to be assertive,” said Johnson, who scored 28 points while hitting five 3-pointers Saturday in the Wolves’ 86-78 win over the D-League Select team. “I just need to relax and go out there and play basketball.”
So far, Johnson has looked confident shooting the ball, averaging 22.7 points (fourth in Las Vegas) on 47.9 shooting through three games. Those numbers are a far cry from what Johnson’s done in Minnesota. After averaging 9.0 points his rookie season, Johnson averaged 6.0 points and has done it on 39.8 percent shooting both seasons.
Johnson says playing with Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio opens up opportunities for him and last year’s No. 2 pick Derrick Williams, shots he’s still confident taking.
“It’s just me thinking too much,” Johnson said, still smiling. “I was overthinking things. I just need to relax and play basketball the way I know how. I don’t think I’ve lost anything.”
LAS VEGAS — Portland guard Nolan Smith was all smiles Saturday, four days after being carted off the court on a stretcher on the same Cox Pavilion floor.
Smith, who suffered a concussion and was taken to the hospital after a hard foul, talked about the play and the thoughts running through his head while he was on the ground.
“I was definitely out of it, but I was just listening to the doctors,” Smith said. “I wanted to walk away, but they kept telling me I had to stay down.
“I never think the worst,” the second-year guard said. “I always try to stay positive. They just said it was a procedure they had to do and I kept telling myself I’d be walking out of the hospital.”
Smith did walk out of the hospital later that night after tests came back normal, but said he had to calm down his mom and older sister.
“My sister was crying, especially the way they had to cover me up and stabilize me,” Smith said. “They were scared, you know, and at one point I finally just said. ‘I’m OK.’ She didn’t like seeing little brother like that.”
LAS VEGAS – Some thoughts just before leaving summer league, minus comment on the mean, mean lady standing on the other side of the table with an obvious anti-media bias constantly dealing 12s, 13s and 14s while turning face cards for the house:
The Bobcats are intriguing. Really. How will Mike Dunlap, a respected basketball mind but a surprise hire, do as a first-time NBA head coach? Can Bismack Biyombo, a project as a 2011 lottery pick who had some encouraging progress last season, take a big step toward becoming the ferocious defensive presence many envision? How will Dunlap find time for rookies Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeff Taylor when both are small forwards? That’s a lot of prominent storylines at once.
One certain outcome, at least, will be to play Kidd-Gilchrist and Taylor together, an option since both are versatile and talented defenders. Dunlap sees them as capable of guarding either backcourt spot and, if the opponent goes small, either forward.
The Bobcats didn’t get the chance to test drive the look because MKG, the No. 2 pick, missed four of five games with a sore left knee, an absence they termed precautionary. But it was easy to see why some teams thought Taylor, who was picked at No. 31, could have been drafted eight or 10 picks higher. He’s smart, has improved his jumper a lot, is athletic and defends. That’s a nice future for a second-rounder.
“He reminds me a lot of Shane Battier,” Dunlap said. (more…)
LAS VEGAS – With the events of Thursday night in Aurora, Colo., hanging over the crowd, the Denver Nuggets closed out their Summer League with a 95-82 loss to the Trail Blazers.
After a moment of silence to honor those killed in the tragic shooting in Colorado, Nuggets players donned black headbands to pay their respects to those suffering in the Denver suburb.
On the court, the Nuggets’ Jordan Hamilton capped off a stellar Summer League with an 18-point, eight-assist performance. The second-year guard out of Texas finished by averaging 19.2 points, 6.4 rebounds in Denver’s five games as he looks to have more of an impact entering his second season.
Non-rookie of the day: Josh Selby, Grizzlies. Memphis’ second-year guard took back the scoring lead with a 32-point outing in the Grizzlies’ 97-79 win over the Bobcats. Selby, who could see a more involved role this year with the departure of O.J. Mayo, hit seven 3-pointers and finished 9-for-14 overall. Other notables: Malcolm Thomas, Bulls. The second-year big man out of SDSU continues to dominate on the boards, notching his third double-double in as many games. Thomas had 12 points and 16 rebounds to bring his averages to 10.7 points and a Summer League-leading 14.0 rebounds.
“We talked about it,” said Faried, the starting power forward last season as the Nuggets pushed the Lakers to seven games in the first round before losing. “It was tragic. It was just terrible for anybody. Even though we don’t live in Colorado, we represent the Denver Nuggets. We’re not from there, but guys still support it.”
Aurora is about 15 miles east of Denver. No players or staff members are believed to live in the suburb.
“We gave prayers and blessings out to the families,” Faried said after the 95-82 loss to the Trail Blazers at Cox Pavilion, “and we wished the best for everybody.”
LAS VEGAS — For many, Sin City is all fun and games.
But for five sets of brothers, Summer League is a chance to reconnect.
Those brothers – Marcus and Markieff Morris, Austin and Jeremiah Rivers, Tyler and Luke Zeller, Klay and Mychel Thompson, and Cory and Devoe Joseph — are all on different teams, which means the siblings often have to make an extra effort to watch and support their brothers.
Devoe Joseph, who is trying to find a spot in the league, played for Toronto, where he and his brother Cory (who is in his second season with the Spurs) grew up.
“We’re pretty close, so this is like a little family vacation for us,” Devoe said. “He’s up there in the stands now. It’s nice having someone you know, someone that makes you feel more comfortable and can help me know what to expect. It was special.”
Jeremiah Rivers – older brother of Austin by four years — was a part of the Knicks’ summer league team, averaging 3.5 points in four games while trying to earn an invitation to a training camp. The chance to spend the week with family was a bonus.
“We’re spread all over the globe,” said Jeremiah, who played in Serbia before having surgery on both ankles in February. “So for everyone to come out – my brother, dad, mom, sister — It’s just good to share this as a family.”
LAS VEGAS – A rookie stole the show Thursday, taking over the scoring lead and proving his doubters wrong.
Point guard Damian Lillard, who many thought was a stretch for Portland with the No. 6 pick, scored 31 points (see more below) in the most captivating performance (and 84-78 win over Atlanta), and Kemba Walker finished off the night by leading the Bobcats to a 99-86 win over the Nuggets.
Walker scored 19 points with 10 assists and had his smile and swagger going in helping his ball-hawking Bobcats improve to 4-0 with the victory. Denver’s second-year swingman Jordan Hamilton continued his impressive play, putting up 21 points and nine rebounds in the setback.
Non-rookie of the day: Walker’s double-double was impressive, but for the second straight day Tobias Harris kept up his stellar play, notching another double-double (21 points, 12 rebounds) in Milwaukee’s 88-77 win over the D-League Select team. The Bucks’ sophomore looks polished and the big game follows his 24-point, 12-rebound showing on Wednesday. Other notables: Sacramento’s Jimmer Fredette closed out his five games with 19 points on just seven shots (4-for-7, 9-for-10 on FTs), while Lakers forward Christian Eyenga had 22 points to help L.A. get a win (its first) in its finale, beating the Clippers 75-69. Minnesota’s Derrick Williams also had a big game, scoring 23 points by getting to the line 16 times (making 11) to offset a 6-for-14 shooting night in the Wolves’ 75-68 win over Cleveland.