LAS VEGAS – The Raptors’ top pick in the 2012 Draft admitted he was tired.
Still, after his five games in Las Vegas, Terrence Ross said he can’t wait to get back in the gym.
“I had to fight through some fatigue,” Ross said after scoring five point in just 17 minutes in his final Summer League game. “Now I know what I need to work on.”
Ross, taken with the No. 8 pick in the Draft, says he’ll travel back to Portland, Ore., and begin his preparations for his rookie season, focusing especially on his conditioning. The shooting guard out of Washington averaged 14.4 points in five games, but shot just 37.1 percent from the floor, admitting his shot suffered because of his tired legs.
“That’s a big part of being a shooting guard is fighting through adversity,” said Toronto coach Dwane Casey. “As a shooting guard, you’re getting bodied, you’re getting held, so you’ve got to be able to fight through that takes a lot of energy. He’s got to learn how to fight through that.”
LAS VEGAS — Adam Morrison looked like the Adam Morrison of old Wednesday night.
And as the player of few words put it, “the shots just went in.”
Morrison scored 23 points to help the Clippers to an 86-80 win over the Spurs, going 9-for-13 from the field (2-for-3 from beyond the arc) and was aggressive in both taking the ball to the hole and hitting the step-back jumpers that drew raves since his days at Gonzaga.
“I got it going, and guys did a good job passing me the ball,” said Morrison, who played 31 minutes for the second straight game in Las Vegas.
Morrison, trying to make a return to the NBA, latched on with the Brooklyn Nets in Orlando, averaging 5.2 points and 4.0 rebounds in 19.0 minutes per game. Here, though, he’s seeing more playing time and through two games is averaging 17.0 points and 5.0 rebounds.
“I’m just trying show people I can play,” Morrison said. “Move around, show them I’m healthy. We’ll see what happens.”
Non-rookie of the day:Tobias Harris enters his second season trying to find a spot in the Bucks’ rotation. The small forward made a nice case Wednesday, scoring 24 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in the Bucks’ 78-75 loss to the Wizards. Other notables: Jimmy Butler scored 24 points with seven rebounds in the Bulls’ 96-88 loss to the Raptors, a night after putting up 25 and seven in a loss to Boston.
Rookie of the day: The nod goes to John Henson, the Bucks’ No 14 pick, who had 20 points and nine rebounds. Henson looked nice in the low post, controlling the boards and showing off some nice interior moves. Henson missed Milwaukee’s first game with the flu, so this was the NBA’s first look at the long big man out of UNC. Other notables: Houston’s Royce White had a double-double in his final game of Summer League, tallying 15 points and 10 rebounds. Other Rockets stood out in their win over Chicago: Terrence Jones had 17 points and nine rebounds, Jeremy Lamb scored 16, while undrafted point guard Scott Machado had 20 points and six assists. Raptors rookie Terrence Ross scored 21 in Toronto’s win, while Atlanta’s John Jenkins scored 21 in his finale for the Hawks in their 67-61 win over Dallas.
Coming up: Two teams wrap up their Las Vegas schedules Thursday: Raptors (4 p.m. ET vs. Knicks, NBA TV) and Kings (6:30 vs. Celtics, NBA TV). Two other games will be televised on NBA TV: Clippers-Lakers at 8:30 and Bobcats-Nuggets at 10:30. Also showing on NBA TV replay: Cavs-Wolves at 3 a.m. ET.
LAS VEGAS – His reasoning makes sense. Knowing the system increases the chances of being comfortable, being comfortable increases the chances of playing well and playing well obviously increases the chances of being signed, so James Anderson decided to play for the Spurs in Summer League.
It’s still weird, though. The Spurs have told Anderson in actions that he is not in their future, first in declining to pick up the $1.56-million option on his rookie contract, making the No. 20 pick in 2010 an unrestricted free agent, and then by committing themselves to Danny Green at shooting guard. Green became a surprisingly important contributor to the team that tied for the best record in the league and got a three-year, $12-million deal this month, and Anderson got to go job hunting.
“I think a fresh start would be good for me,” he said, reconciling himself to what appears to be an inevitable breakup. “It would be good to getting a lot of minutes.”
San Antonio could still bring him back, although that seems very unlikely with 14 guaranteed contracts already on the books and no real openings on the wing. But Anderson chose to stay with the Spurs for Summer League, figuring the comfort level would give him the best chance to play well in an audition for the rest of the league.
“It’s not awkward at all,” Anderson said Wednesday night after eight points and seven rebounds in 27 minutes in the 86-80 loss to the Clippers at Cox Pavilion. “I know a lot of the guys on the team. I know the system.”
There does not appear to be any strong interest yet from other teams after 77 total appearances the first two seasons. Anderson is hoping that will change. He is hoping that one, probably final, run with the Spurs will lead to a future somewhere.
LAS VEGAS –Bradley Beal was still smiling after his five games in Las Vegas, but hardly satisfied.
“It was fun and at the same time it was a learning process,” said Beal, who the Wizards took with the No. 3 pick in the 2012 Draft. “The working doesn’t stop. I always have to get better. I was happy, but I wasn’t happy with my performance.”
Beal had a solid but not spectacular Summer League, averaging 17.6 points and 4.6 rebounds while struggling at times with his shot, finishing at 41.7 percent from the floor. Beal averaged 30 minutes of action, giving the Wizards staff a long look at their shooting guard of the future.
“He’s got great composure,” coach Randy Wittman said. “You can’t tell if the kid scored 30 points or one point. He makes right decisions. He makes the extra pass if he doesn’t have it — almost sometimes too unselfish. But when you’ve got a guy with that character, a coach likes to have that.”
Wittman spoke highly of the Florida guard for his ability in the pick-and-roll and looks forward to seeing how he and point guard John Wall work together in the backcourt.
He’s not the only one.
“I think it will be great, honestly,” Beal said of playing with the Wall, who sat courtside for Tuesday’s game. “We just want to win. That’s our mentality. We want to try to make each other better every day. That’s what he wants, that’s what I want. I think our chemistry is already building. I really can’t wait to play alongside him.”
Beal showed off his ability to score in a variety of ways and seemed to improve in the pick-and-roll throughout the Wizards’ five games. Beal found success using the high screen, repeatedly knocking down the elbow jumper or continuing down the lane for the easy layup or dunk.
“I was pleasantly surprised to see him use pick and rolls,” Wittman said. “At Florida, he didn’t really play the pick-and-roll game much because he was playing small forward so we wanted to see that. I like what I saw.”
Beal says he’s looking forward to settling in to the D.C. area, and hopes to move in at least a month before training camp opens in the end of September.
“This was just a taste for him,” Wittman said. “You hope to see a guy get comfortable as the week goes on and I think he did. Now we’re going to be able to show him some things that we can work on so at camp he’ll have an idea of what to expect”
LAS VEGAS – He is the just in case, at least the backup to the interim backup and possibly soon to be a notch lower than that, but it’s the Bulls and no one needs to remind them about worst-case scenarios.
Derrick Rose is out after knee surgery – hello, worst-case scenario – Kirk Hinrich is in as the starter, and Marquis Teague is somewhere down the line from there. Maybe he’s No. 2 behind Hinrich, the ex-Bull who returned this month as a free agent, and facing immediate expectations as a first-round draft choice trying to help replace an injured former MVP. Or maybe Chicago makes a move to add another point guard, a possibility, and Teague goes to No. 3.
There will be a spotlight either way, because it’s the Bulls, a title contender at full strength now hoping to come close to filling the void, and because Teague is coming off an important role on Kentucky’s national-championship squad.
“That’s a lot of pressure, playing behind Derrick Rose, playing behind one of the best point guards in the game,” Teague said. “He leads his team deep in the playoffs every year. That’s tough to play behind.”
And that’s in addition to the built-in transition of going from one season in college to the NBA. Plus, there were doubts around the league heading into the draft whether Teague could be a dependable playmaker as opposed to a scoring small guard who has to play the point at 6 feet 2 and 180 pounds.
“I know I’ve got an opportunity if I come in and perform,” the brother of Hawks guard Jeff Teague said. “I’ve got to show them I can play.”
LAS VEGAS — Nolan Smith’s scary injury put a damper on a busy and exciting Day 5 on Tuesday. Portland’s second-year point guard had 27 points before being carried off on a stretcher with 42 seconds left in the Blazers’ 99-88 loss to the Rockets. Smith was fouled hard on a breakaway and remained down on the floor for several minutes before being taken off the court. Smith reportedly suffered a concussion, and the injury overshadowed Smith’s second straight solid performance, in which he was 10-for-16 from the floor with five rebounds and five assists.
Non-rookie of the day:Josh Selby of the Grizzlies lit up the scoreboard with 35 points on a 12-for-21 shooting night. Even more impressive were the seven steals Selby racked up. Selby had 20 points in Memphis’ Summer League opener and is making a strong case to take the minutes left by departing free agent O.J. Mayo. Other standouts: Kawhi Leonard had 27 points and eight rebounds, looking like a man among boys in the Spurs’ 92-81 win over the Lakers; Markieff Morris had 24 points and 17 rebounds in the Suns’ 89-74 loss to the Cavs; and Byron Mullens capped off the night by scoring 33 on 13-for-24 shooting (3-for-5 on 3s).
Rookie of the day: Several rookies shined Tuesday, including Portland’s Damian Lillard (27 points including 5-for-10 on 3-pointers) and Jeremy Lamb (23 points), but it was another Houston rookie who gets the nod. Terrence Jones, whom the Rockets took 18th from Kentucky, had 24 points and 12 rebounds while hitting 11 of 20 shots. Jones also matched up well with Portland’s rookie big man Meyers Leonard, doing a good job keeping him in check.
Coming up: Four games will be televised Wednesday on NBA TV: Bucks-Wizards at 4 p.m. ET, Kings-Raptors at 6:30, Hornets-Suns at 8:30, Warriors-Heat at 10:30. One game will be shown on delay: Hawks-Mavericks at 4 a.m. ET.
LAS VEGAS – Trail Blazers guard Nolan Smith was released from the hospital Tuesday night after suffering a concussion in the final minute of the summer-league game against the Rockets and being taken from Cox Pavilion on a stretcher.
“All tests normal,” the team reported via Twitter, after previously saying Smith had a full range of motion.
Smith, a second-year Duke product who played in 44 of the 66 games as a rookie, was injured with 42.9 seconds left when he was fouled by Zoran Dragic on a driving layup. Smith’s momentum took him into the basket stanchion. He took a few more steps, then fell to the court a few feet beyond the baseline.
The Trail Blazers, quickly seeing something was wrong, rushed to his side. Coaches and players came as well while Smith spent several minutes on his back, barely moving but speaking to medical personnel, as the crowd remained quiet.
His head and neck were immobilized before he was placed on a stretcher and wheeled down a sideline and to a waiting ambulance as fans and some players applauded. The final 42.9 seconds of Houston’s 99-88 victory were canceled.
“I’m very concerned,” one teammate, Elliot Williams, said immediately after, before the encouraging news at 9:19 p.m. that Smith would be released from the hospital.
“We’re worried about him,” said another, Luke Babbitt. “All we can do is wait and pray and hope for the best.”
The Trail Blazers say Smith is doubtful for the final three games of summer league.
LAS VEGAS – This became his proving ground of a different kind soon after the regular season, before the ugly images had a chance to fade. The Trail Blazers had a “debacle” of a 2011-12, an opinion that in Portland is accepted more as a fact, prospects would be a big part of the recovery, and so Wesley Matthews decided he would play in summer league at nearly 26 years old and with 230 games of real NBA experience.
Matthews was so insistent on being here that he stayed after he finished playing, as was the case Tuesday night on the bench inside Cox Pavilion as the Trail Blazers lost to the Rockets 99-89, a game halted with 42.9 seconds remaining after Portland guard Nolan Smith suffered a head or neck injury. Matthews’ statistical impact for summer league was seven points in 15 minutes Sunday against the Hornets, the one and likely only appearance. But the plan is for his real impact to be much more and impossible to measure.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys, and the season didn’t finish the way we wanted to,” Matthews said. “We didn’t make the playoffs. A debacle of a year, and I’m vowing never to have that again. I’m just trying to be a leader and play basketball. I was going to play basketball anyway, so I might as well do it with my team.”
Several Blazers here may be in the rotation in the regular season, if not the starting lineup: returnees Luke Babbit and Nolan Smith, rookies Damian Lillard, Meyers Leonard and Will Barton.
“He’s a gym rat, so he wants to be out here as much as he can,” said Kaleb Canales, who finished the regular season as interim coach and is running the bench here as the search for a permanent coach continues. “And he knew what it would do to our team dynamics. We had a mutual conversation, but he’s the one that wanted to be out here.
“We talked to Wes about it at the end of the year in our meeting about his leadership, some about his leadership vocally and leadership by actions. And I think his actions are speaking many words right now about him coming out and having training camp with us and wanting to play here with the young guys, developing that chemistry that we’re going to need going forward.”
LAS VEGAS — Just because it’s Summer League, don’t think for a second The Manimal is taking it easy.
Kenneth Faried, who became a vital piece to the Nuggets in his rookie season, had 16 points and 15 rebounds to lead Denver to an 85-81 win over the Knicks on Tuesday afternoon.
“It doesn’t matter (that it’s Summer League),” Faried said. “It’s going to show guys that even the best player on the team can go out and still get down and dirty.”
And Faried definitely got down and dirty. Faried had five blocks and two steals in his 35 minutes of action, diving for loose balls, slapping the floor after a tumble and keeping balls alive with his hard work on the boards.
LAS VEGAS — If it’s not one Rockets rookie, it’s another.
Houston has a plethora of first-year players trying to break trough in Las Vegas.
So far, they’re all making their cases well.
Three Rockets are among the top 13 rookies in scoring through four days of action, which must make management happy as they try to take the franchise into a new era which potentially includes the addition of Dwight Howard. With the young players excelling, the pieces must look more and more enticing to Orlando, if Houston does decide to go that route.
No. 12 pick Jeremy Lamb is proving to be an even better scorer and slasher than advertised — and holds a top spot in the most recent Rookie Ladder — with a 20.3 point averaged on 51 percent shooting.
No. 18 pick Terrence Jones out of Kentucky has been a beast, averaging 16.7 points and 6.7 rebounds.
Houston’s Draft night pickup from 2011, Donatas Motiejunas, is proving to be quite the asset as well. Motiejunas has been up and down in the three games, but is averaging 15 points and 6.3 rebounds.
No. 16 pick Royce White, known for his versatility, nearly notched a triple-double in Monday’s victory over the Kings. White scored 11 points to go with 10 rebounds and seven assists in his best game of the summer.
White says it’s a quick learning process as he tries to adjust to the new level.
“It’s a different pace, a different length,” White said. “But it’s still based on the same principles, the same fundamentals. The coaches are just telling us to play hard and have fun. Sometimes I get too caught up with wanting to do well and the team doing well and we just need to have fun.”
When they’re playing like this, there’s plenty of fun to go around.