Posts Tagged ‘Las Vegas’

Live From Las Vegas: It’s Showtime From USA Basketball’s Blue-White Showcase





LAS VEGAS – Over the course of three days, in countless drills and scrimmages, players are bound to have a few shining moments. And make no mistake, that’s exactly what has happened during USA Basketball’s Men’s Senior National Team mini-camp.

All-Stars like Paul George, Kyrie Irving and Jrue Holiday have stood out, as have reigning Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard, Olympic gold medalist Anthony Davis and talented big man DeMarcus Cousins.

With 28 young stars from around the league gathered here for evaluations by USA Basketball’s brass, there have been plenty of pleasant surprises as well. Gordon Hayward, Klay Thompson, Derrick Favors, Kenneth Faried, Mike Conley, John Wall and others have stood out as USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo and coach Mike Krzyzewski continue the vetting process for roster sports for the roster for next summer’s World Cup of Basketball next summer in Spain.

All-Stars and two-time gold medalists Kevin Durant and Kevin Love are already on board for 2014. (LeBron James, on the other hand, will not be around next summer and remains something of a mystery for 2016.)

Tonight’s Blue-White Showcase at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center (9 p.m. ET, NBA TV) will give us our first glimpse under the bright lights as to who might join Durant and Love in USA Basketball uniforms next summer and perhaps beyond.

Roster spots are limited. And no one game or performance will be used as the basis for any players’ candidacy. But is there a better way to gauge how these guys will perform under extreme circumstances than seeing them in game-like conditions?

We’ll have eyes on all of the action from courtside (four to be exact, mine and those of my main man and NBA.com’s John Schuhmann) from opening tip until the final buzzer.

We’ll share our thoughts of what’s going on and you need do the same below — (again, the action tips off at 9 p.m. ET on NBA TV)

FOURTH QUARTER

– White team shines through in the end with balance and superior energy and effort from their bigs in a 128-106 win. The USA Basketball talent pool is overflowing with talent these days. Kyrie thanks the fans at the end, which is fitting since this was his show tonight.

– If you’re looking for a player who changed his stock dramatically from scrimmages earlier in the week to tonight’s game, it has to be Kidd-Gilchrist and Holiday. They didn’t really distinguish themselves earlier in the week but they’ve both been really good in this Blue-White Showcase. I expected more from Cousins and would have loved to see more minutes for Favors, who was solid all week in scrimmages.

–  All five starters for the White team in double figures in scoring. Their balance has been impressive. Coach Monty Williams is aiming for bragging rights over Blue team coach Tom Thibodeau. Williams better get this one because his Pelicans will only get two cracks at the Thibodeau’s Bulls during the regular season. And I’m betting the Bulls will be favored in both of those contests.

–  We have to start talking MVP now with just under eight minutes to play. Kyrie is a no-brainer right now. He leads the White team with 20 points and six assists, and those numbers should climb in the next few minutes. He’s been a cut above the rest of the point guards in this game. Easy argument for him being the best player on the floor tonight.

White team is just too good in all the right spots. Blue team can’t stay in front of their point guards consistently enough to keep them from doing work with the dribble drive.

THIRD QUARTER

– By the way, White team lead stretched to 89-79 in the final minutes of the quarter with Conley-Lawson leading the way.

Harrison Barnes, who has looked really good tonight, highlights Anderson with a nasty smash while floating to his left through lane on his way to the basket. Still can’t see Barnes coming off the bench in Golden State this season. Mark Jackson is going to have to do some serious tinkering with his rotations with Barnes, Thompson, Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala all in the mix at the same time. Once they get it down they’re going to be a monster crew on both ends of the floor.

– Tons of intriguing combinations on the floor tonight for both sides. White team has a Mike Conley-Ty Lawson backcourt that is doing work right now. Their mismatches have opened up the floor a bit for Ryan Anderson, who has knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers (and he’s 3-for-3 on the night so far). Blue team is countering with a John Wall-Kemba Walker backcourt that isn’t flowing at all. All eight of the point guards here this week were instructed to forget their normal designations and concentrate on just playing in the backcourt. Some of these guys have no problem doing that while others are continuing to struggle with the concept.

Dunk of the night goes to the Air Force (Nathaniel Mills of Douglasville, Ga.) who was honored with 5:05 to play in the third and showed off his hops by nailing a Dominique Wilkins-inspired windmill in full fatigues and combat boots. He got some post-dunk love from Carmelo, too.

Faried and Holiday have some nice chemistry working for the White team. Holiday has five assists and Faried 11 points and seven rebounds. Versatility kills in this type of environment. The fact that Holiday works efficiently with either hand and is a much better and more physical athlete than he appears to be on the hoof,  He just as good off the ball as he is with it in his hands, something that will come in handy this season in New Orleans.

I see you Monroe. He gets his shot blocked by Jordan on a flat-footed jumper from the wing. He got the ball back and spun baseline past Jordan for a smooth layup that draws oohs from the crowd. Monroe has been solid tonight, extremely solid for a guy who struggled a bit at times during the week.

– Schuhmann’s head is going to explode if Davis takes another 18-footer. Haha. I love his confidence and he absolutely needs that shot as a part of his repertoire going forward. He’s 6-for-8 from the floor right now and leads the Blue team with 12 points with 7 minutes to play in the third.

Proof that you just never know how these things will play out once the lights come on: George missed his first six shots of the night before draining a corner 3-pointer. He was clearly the best player on the floor during scrimmages earlier in the week. But tonight he’s struggled to get on track.

SECOND QUARTER 

Surge from the Blue team at the cuts the White team’s lead to just 53-51. We’ll have fireworks in the second half for certain.

Carmelo Anthony is in the crowd an gets a shoutout from the PA announcer and some jumbotron love. White team still in control with a 50-42 lead in the final three minutes of the first half.

– Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was sort of quiet during the scrimmages on Monday and Tuesday. But the things he does well (hustle, defend, find-the-ball instincts, etc.) are on full display as the White team takes control of things here in the second quarter. He’s the sort of utility player that comes in handy during international competition. You just wonder how long it’s going to take him to improve his shot to the point where won’t be a liability on offense?   

Pistons boss Joe Dumars is sitting behind the scorer’s table at midcourt with prized power forward Josh Smith as they watch Monroe and Drummond do work in the showcase. Nothing but smiles.

White team takes the lead 42-38 with 5:59 to play behind Kyrie doing the Blue team dirty off the dribble. He was clearly the best point guard here this week and arguably the best player in camp. This showing so far tonight is just validation of what we’ve seen all week. He leads all scorers with 16 points on 5-for-7 shooting from the floor.

– Kyrie is just ridiculous. He keeps blowing by his man and getting into the teeth of the defense. The fact that he can finish at the rim with either hand makes him even more dangerous. He’s the first man in double figures tonight with 13. He can get whatever he wants out here. Ridiculous.

Cousins is such an enigma. One second he’s blowing by Drummond with a great first step to the basket and drawing a foul. The next he’s pouting because he ran the floor and didn’t get the ball. A guy with his attitude issues is going to be a tough sell on any 12-man team selected to represent the U.S. in any international competition. There are too many guys in the program who can do similar things that don’t bring that extra stuff.

FIRST QUARTER

– Blue team is up 30-23 after the first 12 minutes. Davis leads the Blue team with 8 points. Lillard has 7. Irving the leads the White team with 8 points, Jordan has 6 and Faried 5.

 It took Faried all of nine minutes to grab six rebounds to go along with his five points. His motor runs in ways that these other guys just can’t match. Even when he seems physically overmatched he wins his individual battles around the rim on sheer hustle. Works the same way with FIBA rules as it does in the NBA.

 Klay Thompson is left open twice moments after entering the game and drains a step-in jumper and a 3-pointer off of a long rebound. Seriously, someone on the White teams needs to make sure he is not left open.

 Nice point guard battle shaping up here. Lillard drains a 3-pointer at the shot-clock buzzer and Kyrie answers with a driving layup on the other end and the foul. These two guys could fight it out for a spot on the team next summer to go to Spain.

 Blue team opens the game on a 8-0 run while the White team turns it over time after time.

Greg Monroe’s work in the post is subtle but effective. He’s a smart big man who always seems to be in the right place at the right time.

 White team starters are Irving, Holiday, George, Faried and Jordan. Blue team starters are Lillard, Waiters, Hayward, Monroe and Davis.

 Chris Paul, with Lil’ Chris by his side, is headed to the arena to see the action as well.

PREGAME

 George takes home top honors in the unofficial dunk contest during pregame warmups. He nailed his signature windmill cuff dunk three different times, each one better than its predecessor. Andre Drummond, DeAndre Jordan and Holiday   joined him on the White team’s spectacular warm up line with some crazy dunks of their own.

Rule Tweaks, ‘Hornets’ Buzz Busy NBA’s Board Of Governors

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LAS VEGAS – And in a matinee clash in NBA Las Vegas summer action, it was Vespines 1, Felines 0…

Actually, that’s just a fancy-schmancy way of saying that “Hornets” is back in Charlotte and “Bobcats” is the league’s latest amnesty casualty, in a reset-by-nickname approved Thursday at the Board of Governors meeting here. The Board also approved five rules changes – three involving the expanded use of instant replay, a tweak to the clear-path foul and a reminder to offensive players to stay within the boundaries of play.

The transfer of “Hornets,” made available when New Orleans opted for “Pelicans” earlier this year, is intended as a reminder of a different sort. The franchise granted to Charlotte nine years ago, after sputtering on the court and at the gate for nearly its entire existence, will try to reach back to happier times by reclaiming the nickname that got relocated with the original expansion team to the Big Easy in 2002. The Board unanimously approved the switch, which will cost the Bobcats an estimated $3 million or more in changeover expenses and take effect after the 2013-14 season.

What’s in a name? Apparently, “Juliet” and the Bard had it wrong. Charlotte team president Fred Whitfield said the costs and efforts involved in this switch will be worth it to his team and its fans. He said the club wants to “grab those fans that love the NBA and haven’t connected with us.”

“Being a former season ticket holder of the Hornets,” Whitfield said, “I understood the energy that came into that building every night. So as we look forward to the future, we’re thrilled that our Bobcats fans and our Bobcat corporate sponsors that have supported us to this point will be able to connect to the old Hornets fans and have that galvanize our community around our NBA brand, not just in Charlotte, but in the Carolinas.”

This has been a basketball operation and civic relationship in need of a fresh start. Whatever obligation the NBA might have felt in returning to Charlotte two years after unpopular owner George Shinn moved the Hornets to New Orleans wasn’t returned with a honeymoon period. The new owner in town, Bob Johnson, didn’t seem to connect with the public much better than Shinn, the Bobcats nickname was a vanity choice based on his first name and, oh yeah, the basketball decisions and performances were shaky at best.

In 14 seasons, the Hornets had led the NBA in attendance eight times, stringing together 364 sellouts, while going 542-574 (.486). They won 50 games three times and reached the playoffs seven times.

The Bobcats, er, have been less successful all around. They ranked 28th in home attendance in their inaugural NBA season (2004-05) and 24th last season, only once averaging as many as 16,000 fans. They have finished above .500 and made the playoffs just once, posting a 250-472 mark (.346) since their inception.

They have been Michael Jordan‘s problem since he purchased control from Johnson, but have more in common with his Birmingham Barons stint than his Chicago Bulls majesty. Insiders say that even NBA commissioner David Stern, after initially dismissing the “Hornets” diehards, began to sell Jordan and others in team management on the value of some nickname nostalgia.

“I sort of laughed at it initially – you know, it is what it is, get over it,” Stern said. “But no. It stayed there, bubbling below the surface, and there is something to it.”

Chief among the Board’s other business Thursday were the rule changes that will take effect for the coming season. The first three involve expanded replay use:

  • When reviewing a block/charge play to determine whether the defender was inside or outside the restricted area, officials will be permitted to reverse or uphold the call based not just on the defender’s location but also whether he was set or not.
  • Replays can be used to determine whether an off-ball foul occurred before or after a player has begun his shooting motion on a successful shot attempt, or before or after the ball was released on a throw-in.
  • While reviewing a play, the officials will be permitted to assess penalties for unsportsmanlike and unnecessary acts that they spot during the reply.
  • Also, a clear-path-to-the-basket foul will not be assessed if at any point before the foul is committed the defender is positioned ahead of the offensive player in the frontcourt.
  • A team on offense will lose possession if one of its players leaves the floor and does not immediately return, unless he is injured, attempting to save the ball or in other extenuating circumstances.

As far as the application and effectiveness of flopping rules from last season, Stern said the NBA competition committee felt they were working well and warranted no changes.

Despite the commissioner’s label of “unremarkable” hung on this meeting in the desert, other topics came up either in the owners’ session or in the news conference that followed. Among them:

The CBA is working: Early indications after 18 months functioning under the current collective bargaining agreement suggest that NBA teams are navigating the rules, provisions and penalties in a way the owners had hoped. “Teams who are up against the tax level or even above it find themselves making hard decisions about what players are necessary to retain or not,” Stern said. “All of which strikes us as being pro‑competitive in terms of the league.”

Not only has the CBA led to shorter contracts and player movement for the coming season, it has boosted offseason interest in the league not unlike baseball’s “Hot Stove League” of winter.

“That’s a huge, huge builder of awareness and gets fans excited, teams excited and I think players excited about what their team reconfiguration is, so that’s all good,” Stern said.

Viva Las Vegas: The resort and gambling destination continues to loom large on the league’s radar. The summer league, a project of particular interest to NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver, Stern’s successor upon the commissioner’s Feb. 1 retirement date, has been a hit, they said, both for the basketball opportunities and its convention-like aspect. “What we’re moving to, in conjunction with Orlando, is a real sense of what baseball has in their winter meetings and where everyone gathers,” Stern said.

Added drug testing (eventually): Enhancements in the league’s anti-drug policy, particularly a “biological passport” concept and testing for human growth hormones, has been slowed by the National Basketball Players Association search for a new executive director. Stern said he expected that they could be added in time for the 2013-14 season.

Sacramento on track: The progress since Sacramento secured the Kings franchise continues with added season-ticket sales and an increase in sponsorship commitments. Reports on revenue sharing and the league-wide credit facility also were favorable. It all is part of what Stern called “another banner year for the NBA.”

Expansion spitballing: Silver said there has been no dialogue with Seattle and those behind efforts to restore the NBA to that market, and the deputy commissioner only acknowledged the potential for discussions about expansion “down the road,” be it in Seattle, Las Vegas or other possible cities.

But Stern, who enjoys dumping expansion questions on Silver, did note that plans for a new arena in Seattle are continuing, after mentioning similar plans in Las Vegas moments earlier. “It wouldn’t surprise me if Commissioner Silver was looking at strong applications from Las Vegas and Seattle in the coming years,” he said, “and I’m going to enjoy watching it.”

Las Vegas Summer League: Day 10 Recap

By Drew Packham, NBA.com



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.”

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Las Vegas Summer League: Day 9 Recap

By Drew Packham, NBA.com
 

 
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.

Brothers in Arms: Summer League Brings Brothers Together

By Drew Packham, NBA.com
 

 
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.”

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Raptors’ Ross Ready to Go to Work

By Drew Packham, NBA.com

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.”

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Las Vegas Summer League: Day 6 Recap

By Drew Packham, NBA.com
 

 

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 Summer League: Day 5 Recap

By Drew Packham, NBA.com


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.

The Manimal Comes Alive in Las Vegas

By Drew Packham, NBA.com

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.

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Rockets Rookies Off To Hot Start




By Drew Packham, NBA.com

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.