Posts Tagged ‘Kemba Walker’

Who’s Sitting On A Hot Seat Now?


HANG TIME, Texas — Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.

In the NBA that familiar line from the holiday classic “It’s A Wonderful Life” has a different twist.

Every time the bell rings a head coach gets his walking papers and a handful of others start looking over their shoulders.

It’s a tenuous life.

Of course, this season has already been quite unusual with Mike Brown fired by the Lakers after just five games. But now that the schedule has reached the one-third mark and claimed Avery Johnson, it’s time to look at some others down around the bottom of the standings.

Randy Wittman, Wizards (3-23) – No, he hasn’t had John Wall all season. Yes, he’s had to play at times without Nene and Trevor Ariza and Bradley Beal. But the Wizards are the only group in Washington that makes Congress look competent by comparison. After a recent 100-68 thumping by the almost-as-hapless Pistons, even Wittman seemed to have enough. “That was an embarrassment, and I apologize to our ownership and to our fans,” he said. “I especially apologize to anyone who watched that entire game. I would have turned it off after the first five minutes.” It would seem to be a matter of when, not if.

Monty Williams, Hornets (6-22) – It’s hard to see the Hornets turning right around and cutting Williams loose just months after giving him a four-year contract extension. There has been the matter of Eric Gordon’s injury and the fact that No. 1 draft pick Anthony Davis was on the shelf for 13 games. But there are rumblings in New Orleans about his constantly changing rotations and collapse of his defense, which ranks 29th.

Byron Scott, Cavaliers (7-23)
— The Cavs are likely headed to their third straight trip to the lottery under Scott, but that doesn’t mean that he’s headed to the exit. The key to his previous success at New Jersey and New Orleans was having a top-notch point guard and Scott has an excellent relationship with maybe the next great thing in Kyrie Irving. This was always a long, heavy lift from the moment LeBron James bolted and that has not changed.

Mike Dunlap, Bobcats (7-21)
– What a difference a month makes. After beating the Wizards on Nov. 24, the Bobcats were 7-5, had matched their win total from last season and their rookie coach was getting praised. Now 16 straight losses later, Dunlap is preaching patience with his young core of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kemba Walker, Byron Mullens and Jeffery Taylor. He has earned that. A dozen of Charlotte’s 21 losses have come by 10 points or less, a dramatic change from the historically horrible last season when the Bobcats were rolled in one-third of their games by 20 points or more.

Lawrence Frank, Pistons (9-22)
— Frank insists that his Pistons are a better team than they were a year ago. The record — identical then and now — does not back that up. He says that his club now is more competitive, but just doesn’t know how to finish games. Some of the players have grumbled that there is also a failure of coach to make the right calls and adjustments when games get late. When push comes to shove, it’s the coach that gets nudged out the door.

Dwane Casey, Raptors (9-20)– Another one of those seasons when the Raptors were supposed to turn things around and make a push for the playoffs in the lesser Eastern Conference has gone south. Injuries to Andrea Bargnani, Kyle Lowry and Linas Kleiza. Amir Johnson gets suspended for throwing his mouthguard at a referee. G.M. Bryan Colangelo says the talent is there, but the Raptors lack focus and attention to detail. The Raps’ offense is mediocre (ranked 17th) and their defense just bad (27th). Even in Canada during the winter, that all puts Casey on thin ice.

Keith Smart, Kings (9-19) – Smart got the job to replace Paul Westphal specifically because of what was perceived as an ability to work with the mercurial DeMarcus Cousins. So he turned Cousins loose last season, let him do just about anything he pleased and got enough results to earn a contract extension. Now that Cousins has abused his free-rein relationship with his coach and another season is sinking fast, it would be easy to just blame Smart, which the Kings eventually will do. But this is a bad team with a knucklehead as its centerpiece and ownership that can’t tell you where they’ll be playing in two years.

Alvin Gentry, Suns (11-18) — It was at the end of a seven-game losing streak when Suns owner Robert Sarver told ESPN.com that Gentry’s job was safe. “We’ve got confidence in our coaching staff and we’re not considering making changes,” he said. Of course, that usually means start packing your bags. It was all about starting over in this first season post-Nash in the desert. He’s changed lineups more than his ties and the result is usually the same. Gentry is a good bet to last out the season, but it’s probably going to take a big finishing kick to return next year.

Point Guard Problem In Dallas?

DALLAS — The Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday face old pal Jason Kidd and the New York Knicks for the second time in less than two weeks. In the time between, the drastic decline witnessed at point guard must be unnerving for Dallas.

The promising start Darren Collison rode into the Big Apple on Nov. 9 is swerving amid a mess of poor decision making, poor shooting and perplexing turnovers. After Monday’s 105-101 overtime home loss to the Golden State Warriors in which Collison was terrible offensively (seven points on 2-for-11 shooting, five assists and five turnovers) and torched defensively by Stephen Curry (31 points, nine assists), his quickest move was exiting the locker room before the media was granted entrance for post game interviews.

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle addressed his point guard’s spotty play by saying he must help Collison snap out of it.

“Right now, he’s our starting point guard,” Carlisle said. “I know he can play better. I know he’s frustrated with how things are going. Right now, I’ve just got to help him get better. When players struggle, it’s on the coach. I don’t dodge that responsibility.”

Even if Carlisle wanted to make a switch, he has no realistic option. Dallas waived the disgruntled Delonte West before the start of the season. Roddy Beaubois continues to be disappointingly ineffective and third-year guard Dominique Jones, while flashing potential in his recently increased role, is reckless handling the basketball and unreliable shooting it.

This isn’t to suggest the Mavs would be better off with Kidd, who is off to a strong start with the Knicks in his 19th season. Dallas wanted the 39 year old back, but he spurned its offer to join New York, the right move for him and the Mavs, regardless if Collison ultimately becomes Dallas’ long-term (not to mention the short-term) solution or not.

The Mavs were 4-1 when they headed to Madison Square Garden and gamely competed against the then-undefeated Knicks before falling late. The loss started this current 2-5 stretch that has Dallas, still without star Dirk Nowitzki, at .500 (6-6) and backed into a corner with the revenge-minded Los Angeles Lakers following the Knicks into town Saturday night.

It was in L.A. on opening night that the speedy Collison carved up Steve Nash and Dallas’ new cast surprisingly revved up an uncertain offense. In the first five games, Collison averaged 16.2 points on highly efficient shooting at close range, and 7.2 assists, while committing just six total turnovers.

In the last seven games, he’s averaged 11.2 points and 5.9 assists with 21 turnovers. In just the last four games, he’s shooting 30.8 percent while averaging 10.0 points, 5.5 assists and 3.3 turnovers.

At the other end, it’s been a scorched trail of point-guard destruction: Kemba Walker, Luke Ridnour, former Pacers teammate George Hill, Kyrie Irving and finally Curry’s explosion for a season high in points and assists. The Mavs have yet to see All-Star point guards the likes of Chris Paul, Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook.

“Stephen Curry just didn’t outplay one player,” Mavs shooting guard O.J. Mayo said. “He outplayed the Dallas Mavericks.”

Maybe so, but Collison was on the floor for 38 of Curry’s 43 minutes and served as his primary defender. Offensively, Collison was ineffective, at best. He did hit the game-tying jumper with 36 seconds to play to force overtime after Curry’s fourth-quarter blitz, but even that was a broken play in which he failed to get the ball into center Chris Kaman on a mismatch.

If not for Mayo’s late scoring takeover — hero ball, as they like to say nowadays, at its essence — the Mavs might not have even reached overtime. Mayo had 18 of his team-high 27 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, and accounted for all 11 of Dallas’ points in OT on just one assist.

“I had the opportunity to have the ball in my hands,” Mayo said. “I didn’t have to depend on someone creating a shot for me.”

Not exactly a ringing endorsement for your point guard. And that’s a problem.

Rick’s Tips: Fantasy Microscope

We’re just about one month into the 2012-13 regular season, and several players are exceeding their preseason fantasy expectations. Now the question is, should you sell-high or ride it out? To that end, I have picked five players currently ranked in the top 25 of the 8-cat rankings to put under the fantasy microscope:

1) Nicolas Batum, Blazers: Many of us were expecting a breakout season from Batum, who flashed signs in the second half of last season. But few of us foresaw Batum emerging as an elite fantasy player, currently in the top five on the 8-cat charts thanks to all the fantasy gold: aka, blocks, steals, and threes.

Batum probably won’t stay in the top five all season, but he likely won’t fall below 15th either, meaning first-round value should be there all season. And why would you trade a dude who can score 35 points and block five shots in the same game, which he did last Friday against the Rockets?

2) Jrue Holiday, 76ers: If you watched Dennis Scott, Rashan Ali, and myself on NBA.com Fantasy Insider during the preseason, then you probably have Holiday on your team because we could not have been higher on the Sixers’ floor general. And Jrue is backing up the hype, currently giving owners first-round value, hovering around 20 points and 10 assists per game.

And with Andrew Bynum nowhere near returning to the court due to problems with both knees, there is no reason to expect a decrease in value from Holiday, who is Philly’s undisputed No. 1 player at this point. As such, I recommend riding it out with Holiday, who may take your team all the way to the Fantasy Promised Land.

3) Damian Lillard, Blazers: Lillard whetted our appetite at the Vegas Summer League, racking up impressive stats and Co-VSL MVP honors. Well, Lillard has carried over that fine play to the regular season, hovering around 20 ppg and ranking in the top 5 for threes made.

The Blazers have hitched their wagon to this young stud out of Weber State, and he will form a potent 1-2 combo with LaMarcus Aldridge for years to come. Not only would I resist selling high with Lillard, but I think it’s safe to expect even better numbers going forward as he continues to polish his craft.

4) J.R. Smith, Knicks: It wasn’t hard to see J.R. getting off to a fantastic start given the knee injuries to Amar’e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert. But I’m not sure anyone — including his family members — saw J.R. maintaining top 25 value across 8 cats through the NBA’s first month.

Enjoy all of these goodies while they last, however. When Amar’e and Shump get back to work in the new year, J.R.’s minutes and shots will decrease, and he likely will shift from fantasy starter to fantasy bench player. As such, I would be shopping J.R. for someone who has a better chance of keeping his value all season.

5) Kemba Walker, Bobcats: Kemba is the straw that stirs the drink in Charlotte, so you have nothing to worry about in terms of his value going forward. Currently, Kemba ranks in the top 25 across 8 categories, with 18.8 points, 5.5 assists, 3.9 rebounds, 2.5 steals, and 86 percent from the free-throw line.

Perhaps best of all, after shooting .366 from the field as a rookie, Kemba is shooting .423 from the field as a sophomore. I was shocked to so him shoot so poorly last year, so I think this year’s percentage is more indicative of his talents. Do not sell-high with Kemba, who’s career arrow is pointing straight up.

Knicks Lead Most Improved Offenses

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Offense was supposed to come back this season.

Last year, we had abbreviated training camps, out-of-shape players and a condensed schedule. And the result was a drop in offensive efficiency of 2.6 points per 100 possessions.

This year, we should be seeing a recovery. But through Wednesday, the league is scoring 100.1 points per 100 possessions, just a tick better than it was through the same number of games last year (99.9). Shooting is better, but trips to the line are down.

Still, there are several teams have taken a step forward offensively. And a few of the teams on that list are a surprise.

Of course, everything comes with the caveat that it’s early. Some teams have had easier schedules than others. And just one or two good or bad games can skew the numbers a bit.

Most improved offenses (points scored per 100 possessions)

Team 2011-12 Rank 2012-13 Rank Diff.
New York 101.4 19 111.3 1 +9.9
Charlotte 92.3 30 100.7 14 +8.3
Miami 104.3 6 111.0 2 +6.7
Dallas 101.0 20 105.0 4 +4.0
Brooklyn 99.7 23 103.5 7 +3.8

For the five teams at the top of the list, improvement has come in different ways. But for all five, it appears to be mostly sustainable.

New York Knicks

Season eFG% Rank OREB% Rank TmTOV% Rank FTA Rate Rank 2PT% Rank 3PT% Rank
2011-12 49.2% 12 26.6% 18 16.6% 27 .306 6 48.7% 8 33.6% 21
2012-13 53.3% 3 21.3% 28 11.6% 1 .245 23 47.8% 12 42.6% 1

eFG% = (FGM (0.5*3PM)) / FGA
OREB% = Percentage of available offensive rebounds obtained
TmTOV% = Turnovers per 100 possessions
FTA Rate = FTA / FGA

The Knicks have played only five games, and three of them were against teams (Miami, Dallas and Orlando) in the bottom 12 defensively. But they twice scorched the Sixers, who rank fourth on that end.

The improvement has been about hot shooting from the perimeter, but also about taking care of the ball, something we premised a month ago. The Knicks’ offensive regression last season had a lot to do with turnovers, because when they didn’t have turnover machines Jeremy Lin and Baron Davis running the point, they had no point guard at all.

So, while we can’t expect the Knicks to keep their turnover rate this low all season, there’s reason to believe that the offensive improvement is somewhat sustainable.

Of course, there’s no avoiding the Amar’e Stoudemire question. Last season, the Knicks were 6.5 points per 100 possessions better offensively with Stoudemire on the bench (104.6) than they were with him on the floor (98.1). That was the difference between being a top-five offense and a bottom-five offense.

With Stoudemire on the floor, Carmelo Anthony shot 40.9 percent and 30.4 percent from 3-point range. With Stoudemire off the floor, Anthony shot 45.0 percent and 36.6 percent from beyond the arc.

How it will work out this season remains to be seen. But until Stoudemire returns, the Knicks’ offense should remain near the top of the league.

Charlotte Bobcats

Season eFG% Rank OREB% Rank TmTOV% Rank FTA Rate Rank 2PT% Rank 3PT% Rank
2011-12 43.9% 30 23.6% 27 15.4% 16 .276 14 43.9% 30 29.5% 30
2012-13 45.7% 24 30.0% 7 14.4% 6 .277 15 46.3% 18 28.9% 28

The Bobcats had nowhere to go but up, but it’s doubtful that anyone thought they’d be an above-average offensive team.

Like the Knicks, the Cats are doing a better job of taking care of the ball. But with new additions Brendan Haywood and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist leading the way, they’re also working the offensive glass for extra points. In fact, they rank second in the league (behind Denver) with 16.9 second chance points per game.

Shot selection has also been key. We noted last month how the Bobcats had the worst selection in the league last season, taking 39.6 percent of their shots from mid-range (between the paint and the 3-point line). This year, only 28.5 percent of their made shots have come from mid-range, below the league average. They’re also taking a greater percentage of their 3-pointers from the corners.

Kemba Walker‘s game-winner came from mid-range on Wednesday, but he’s been part of the solution, taking the ball to the basket and getting to the line more than he did as a rookie.

Interestingly, the Bobcats are assisting on far fewer shots than they did last year. In fact, they’re one of only two teams (the Sacramento Kings are the other) that has recorded assists on less than half of their field goals. Only 12 of Walker’s 49 makes have been assisted.

The Bobcats would be better with more ball movement, but their improvement seems mostly sustainable, because nobody in Charlotte is playing well above his head.

Miami Heat

Season eFG% Rank OREB% Rank TmTOV% Rank FTA Rate Rank 2PT% Rank 3PT% Rank
2011-12 50.5% 6 26.6% 19 16.1% 22 .307 5 49.6% 4 35.9% 10
2012-13 54.8% 1 23.4% 23 14.5% 7 .290 13 51.8% 2 42.1% 2

While the Bobcats have gone from awful to all right, the Heat have gone from great to nearly unstoppable. (Offensively, at least. No team has regressed more defensively than Miami.)

Taking care of the ball has been key (sense a theme here?), but so has 3-point shooting. With the Heat playing “positionless” basketball full-time now, they have one extra shooter on the floor.

We knew Ray Allen (20-for-37) would shoot well with LeBron James drawing double and triple-teams. But James is also shooting well (13-for-28) from beyond the arc, and Rashard Lewis (13-for-23) is proving that his career isn’t over. Maybe just as important is that Dwyane Wade (29 percent for his career) has basically stopped taking threes.

The 3-point shooting should regress some as the season goes on, but the Heat aren’t getting everything they can out of Wade. So they should remain a top-three offensive team all year. And more important will be how well they defend, especially when they go to their bench.

Dallas Mavericks

Season eFG% Rank OREB% Rank TmTOV% Rank FTA Rate Rank 2PT% Rank 3PT% Rank
2011-12 48.9% 15 23.4% 28 14.8% 9 .246 27 48.2% 11 33.9% 20
2012-13 51.8% 4 22.5% 26 15.1% 10 .299 9 48.3% 10 41.8% 3

This one is more surprising than the Bobcats, considering the absence of Dirk Nowitzki. But last season was the first time since they drafted Nowitzki in 1998 that the Mavs had a below-average offense. And his regression was part of the problem.

O.J. Mayo‘s 3-point shooting — he’s a ridiculous 31-for-53 through nine games — is most responsible for the improvement. But Mayo isn’t just bombing away. He’s also getting to the line (39 attempts), and he’s been joined their by backcourt-mate Darren Collison (36).

There’s no way that Mayo can stay this hot, but Nowitzki will eventually be back. And if he shoots better than he did last year, the Mavs can sustain their offensive improvement.

Brooklyn Nets

Season eFG% Rank OREB% Rank TmTOV% Rank FTA Rate Rank 2PT% Rank 3PT% Rank
2011-12 47.3% 24 27.8% 10 16.1% 23 .269 17 45.7% 27 34.2% 18
2012-13 50.0% 7 29.4% 8 16.1% 17 .325 5 49.9% 4 33.6% 18

With the additions of Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez (who played only five games last season), this is the least surprising team on the list.

Last season, the Nets ranked 30th in restricted-area field goal percentage at 54.6 percent. This season, they rank first at 67.4 percent. Part of that improvement has been aided by the Cavs’ awful defense, but Lopez’s presence has also helped. He’s been the focal point of the offense and leads the team with 24 buckets in the restricted area (11 more than any other teammate). And among 170 players around the league who have attempted at least 50 shots from the field, he ranks 13th in free throw rate, at 0.449 FTA/FGA.

Johnson has struggled early, never finding any kind of rhythm until the second half of Tuesday’s win over Cleveland. Deron Williams is also shooting a career-low 26 percent from 3-point range. And with Gerald Wallace having played only one game, the Nets’ offense should only get better.

Bobcats Coach Dunlap Doing It His Way





DALLAS — Hey, every ugly streak can’t be slayed overnight.

The Charlotte Bobcats exhaled enough relief Friday night after snapping the 23-game losing streak that ended last year’s historically pitiful season to propel them all the way to Dallas for Saturday’s game against the rested and waiting Dallas Mavericks.

A valiant push by the Bobcats in the second quarter faded at the end of the half and collapsed in the third quarter as Dallas won going away, 126-99 thanks to a barrage of 3-balls. The loss prevented Charlotte from accruing consecutive victories for the first time since the final two games of the 2010-11 season.

And then there’s that little streak that now stands at 16, the number of consecutive losses to the Mavs, who continue to play without injured star Dirk Nowitzki. Dallas is the only team the Bobcats have never defeated since expanding into the league in 2004.
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Camp Questions: Will The Bobcats Put Up Fewer Mid-range Jumpers?


HANG TIME NEW JERSEY –
The Charlotte Bobcats have nowhere to go but up. Last season, they finished with the worst record in NBA history and ranked last in both offensive and defensive efficiency.

While they added No. 2 pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist this summer, the Bobcats didn’t exactly upgrade their roster in a major way. But they did hire a new coach, who could make a difference, despite the fact that you’d probably never heard of him before he was hired in June.

Mike Dunlap is a numbers guy, which automatically makes him a favorite in this space. And as a numbers guy, he knows that his team had the league’s worst shot selection last year.

The Bobcats took 39.6 percent of their shots from mid-range (between the paint and the 3-point line), the highest rate in the league. Furthermore, only 16.3 percent of their 3-point attempts came from the corner, the lowest rate in the league. Combine those two numbers and you’ve got a pretty good formula for a pretty bad offense, no matter how much talent you may or may not have on your roster.

Highest percentage of shots from mid-range, 2011-12

Team FGM FGA FG% %FGA
Charlotte 768 2,098 36.6% 39.6%
Boston 824 1,953 42.2% 38.4%
Philadelphia 839 2,096 40.0% 38.0%
Toronto 681 1,849 36.8% 35.9%
New Orleans 714 1,790 39.9% 35.1%

%FGA = Percentage of total field goal attempts

So Dunlap is trying to change things. (more…)

Grrr! Bobcats’ ID Gets Makeover

In marketing parlance, the Charlotte NBA franchise has launched a new “brand identity campaign.” In law enforcement circles, it’s the equivalent of the witness protection program.

What began with new team colors and logos already had been extended to new uniforms for the 2012-13 season – they’re now just “Cats” across their chests, the “Bob” part unofficially consigned to the heap of old stationery and business cards from original owner Robert Johnson’s tenure.

The latest nip-and-tuck comes via an ad campaign of “TougherFasterStronger,” which at least encourages a Charlotte fan to say it faster by going with Italics font and dropping the spaces between the words. It is meant to focus on the “hard work, up-tempo play and overall development that are the keys to the philosophy of new Bobcats Head Coach Mike Dunlap.”

The press release announcing the campaign continues:

“This is an exciting time as we prepare for the upcoming season,” said [team president and CEO Fred] Whitfield. “From his first day on the job, Coach Dunlap’s intensity, energy and commitment have inspired not only the players but our entire organization.  With that, it is only natural that we would follow his lead with this campaign.” (more…)

Selby, Lillard Named Co-MVPs

By Drew Packham, NBA.com

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 Summer League: Day 7 Recap

By Drew Packham, NBA.com
 

 
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.

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Las Vegas Summer League: Day 1 Recap

By Drew Packham, NBA.com



The first day of Summer League action in Las Vegas closed out a marathon day of hoops (Just ask Lang Whitaker, who was a trooper  and blogged the whole thing for NBA.com). We got our first look at several lottery picks, including Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who had 18 points, eight rebounds and four steals to help the Bobcats blow out the Kings 121-87 in the nightcap. Kidd-Gilchrist and Kemba Walker was an animated backcourt for the Bobcats, bringing a lot of energy, laughing and clapping throughout the game. (This is what winning feels like, Kemba.)

Rookie of the day: Donatas Motiejunas, Rockets. The Rockets’ 2011 draft night acquisition scored 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds in his first action with the team. Motiejunas was aggressive and showed off his shooting touch, knocking down a pair of 3-pointers.

Non-rookie of the day: Klay Thompson, who came on in the second half of the season, scored 24 points to lead Golden State’s 90-50  dismantling of the Lakers. The second-year guard out of Washington State was 6-for-8 on 3-pointers and showed why the Warriors were willing to deal Monta Ellis to the Bucks last season.

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