New Orleans Pelicans 77, New York Knicks 72
The Knicks and Pelicans tipped off the 2013 summer league Friday afternoon. This year’s event has a new look, with preliminary games up to Wednesday, then a tournament format to crown the first official SL champion. The Pelicans took the first game of Day 1 with a 77-72 win.
With 2012 No. 1 draft pick Anthony Davis supporting his summer league teammates from the sidelines, Austin Rivers led the Pelicans with a game-high 24 points to go with seven rebounds and six assists. After a rough 2012 summer league and regular season, Rivers made a strong start to his 2013 schedule. Matched up against Iman Shumpert much of the game, Rivers controlled the Pelicans’ offense, making sound decisions and effectively driving to his right, converting on a couple of three-point plays. He thoroughly outplayed Shumpert, outscoring him 24 to two. Shumpert (who did contribute six rebounds and four assists) shockingly didn’t make a field goal in his 28 minutes of play, missing all five of his attempts.
Teammate [Player Cameron Moore] provided good support off the bench, finishing with 13 points and six rebounds before leaving the game to get his left hamstring treated midway through the final quarter.
The Knicks were led by their 2013 first-round pick Tim Hardaway Jr. Hardaway got off to a strong start, making a baseline jumper off an inbounds play with his first touch. He didn’t complete the game, either, as he walked with a slight limp late in the game. He finished with 13 points, five rebounds and three assists in his pro debut.
[Player Jeremy Tyler] had mixed results, but he did finish with a double double, collecting 10 points and 11 rebounds. He struggled getting position offensively, but provided good energy and rebounded well on both ends. His highlight of the game came early in the fourth quarter, when he impressively finished a missed lay-up to give
Los Angeles Clippers 90 Atlanta Hawks 83
Game two saw the Los Angeles Clippers stave off a late comeback from the Atlanta Hawks to take a 90-83 win. North Carolina’s [Player Reggie Bullock] was impressive for the Clippers, finishing with a team-high 18 points. His match up with Hawks’ first-round pick John Jenkins made for compelling viewing.
Bullock has a smooth release on his shot and most of his makes didn’t even touch the rim. He was active off the ball and displayed good fundamentals to get his looks. He also collected three rebounds, one assist and three blocks. Jenkins, his sharpshooting counterpart, led all scorers with 24 points on 11-23 shooting. His early shots fell a touch short, but he found his range as the game progressed. He also pulled down six rebounds with three assists.
Detroit’s 2009 second-round pick DaJuan Summers and summer-league veteran Samardo Samuels made strong contributions for the Clippers, each posting 15 points. Despite being recently waived by the Clippers, Summers will play for the team in this year’s event. He played as though he had something to prove, running the floor well and providing great hustle. The undrafted Samuels is usually one of the stronger performers in Vegas, bringing the same level of intensity in every game.
Former Minnesota lottery pick Jonny Flynn made a cameo appearance for LA, playing a little more than one minute in the game. In the space of a few years, Flynn has gone from NBA starting point guard to the Australian NBL and is battling to get himself back in the league.
Atlanta’s two first-round picks made their pro debuts in this game, as well. Lucas Nogueira and Dennis Schroder. Nogueira has a thin build, but he uses his length to his advantage, changing shots and controlling rebounds at both ends of the floor. He provided the crowd with several highlights, finishing a series of ally oops. He did look lost on offense at times, but that should improve as he gets more experience. Nogueira has obvious tools, but he needs to fill out and get stronger.
Schroder looked tentative and played poorly, taking just eight shots. However, his passing ability was evident, making some sharp passes for his seven assists. Physically, he resembles a smaller version of Rajon Rondo and he is lightning quick with the ball in his hands.
Clippers All-Star Blake Griffin was courtside enjoying Day 1 action, when he wasn’t being bombarded by fans.
Cleveland Cavaliers 70 Los Angeles Lakers 62
Even without No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett, the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Los Angeles Lakers 70-62 in Game 3. Kyrie Irving was very vocal on the bench throughout the game, providing encouragement and getting into the officials’ ears. The Cavs bench had a little bit of an Australian touch, with the Australian-born Irving, St Mary’s standout Matthew Dellavedova (2pts/3rebs/5asst) and Chris Goulding.
Jermaine Taylor led all scorers with 17 points in his 15 minutes of court time. The athletic Taylor has improved his game since we last saw him in Las Vegas, displaying more confidence in his outside shot. Carrick Felix was impressive, hitting shots, running the floor and displaying his athleticism. He finished with 14 points (5-9 shooting), six rebounds and two blocks.
Tyler Zeller showed off a well-rounded set of skills on his way to 15 points on 6-10 shooting. He has a soft touch for a big man and showcased his ability to put the ball on the floor if his defender overplays. Cavs’ 2012 first-round pick Dion Waiters struggled offensively, going a woeful 1/11 from the field.
Both teams are back in action this Sunday when the Lakers face Portland and the Cavs take on Memphis.
San Antonio Spurs 69 Charlotte Bobcats 68
Joseph led the Spurs in scoring with 19 points on 7-14 shooting. He penetrated well, finished in traffic and made his outside shots. Nando De Colo is an interesting player, with the ability to run the point and defend bigger guards. He has a tight handle with good vision. He finished with 12 points, two rebounds and three assists. DeShaun Thomas (18pts/3rebs/1ast) played a strong all-round game, picking his spots nicely and making good decisions between looking for his own shot and making the pass. He also played solid defense on the bigger Cody Zeller.
Taylor started strong and finished strong. His jumper was reliable and his step-back is difficult to defend. He amused the crowd with a violent dunk attempt in the first half. On an open break, he simply tried to dunk the ball too hard for an embarrassing miss. Fortunately, he made the fans forget that effort with a vicious finish late in the game on Aron Baynes (5pts 8 rebs). It’s a very early candidate for dunk of the tournament. Taylor and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist were Charlotte’s best players today. MKG plays bigger than he looks, gets up and down the court and elevates quickly. On the downside, his wonky jump shot need continuous work. Like last season, it’s pretty ugly at the moment, with a near double clutch before release.
Cody Zeller showed a bit of butterflies in his first pro game, taking a while to register his first point and rebound. His first two shot attempts were air balls, but he eventually did get going with two dunks, one in transition after running the floor. He looked exhausted throughout the first half and appeared to fatigue quickly. He did show skills that intrigued the Bobcats to draft him and should prove to be effective in the high post.
Bismack Biyombo didn’t get many offensive opportunities but he did have a nice rolling right-hand hook shot for his only field goal. Despite being extremely limited offensively, he is a strong defensive presence, pulling down 11 rebounds and blocking two shots to go with his three points.