For the fourth day straight, league executives, coaches and players took a break from lounging outside their Las Vegas hotels to take part in the afternoon's Summer League festivities.
A yearly gathering that usually takes on the feel of a massive NBA reunion—the league as a whole convening in one place, without the in-season pressures of the All-Star break—the 2014 trip to Vegas has instead focused more on the court.
Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Dante Exum lead the most-hyped rookie class in over a decade. All three have had highlight moments to go along with lowlights, each flashing scintillating talent and a considerable amount of greenness. Parker and Wiggins, each at different times called the best prep star since LeBron James, already had their first head-to-head battle.
Monday night will see the first professional matchup between Exum and Parker. It will also mark the former Duke star's first head-to-head contest against the team that tried so hard to move up in the draft to land him.
Wiggins, meanwhile, will have his hands full with the team that tried to land him in the predraft process. The league's worst-kept secret all season long was the Sixers' desire to land the Kansas standout. Joel Embiid's injury wound up very likely changing the destinations of both players, as Embiid landed in the City of Brotherly Love.
With the action already underway, let's check in on everything that happened during Day 4.
|Golden State Warriors||2-1|
|Los Angeles Clippers||1-1|
|Los Angeles Lakers||1-2|
|NBA D-League Select||1-2|
|New Orleans Pelicans||2-1|
|New York Knicks||3-0|
|Portland Trail Blazers||1-1|
|San Antonio Spurs||2-1|
Sacramento Kings 89, D-League Select 75
Lineup cohesion is rarely—if ever—seen in Summer League. Guys are thrown together on practically zero practice time and expected to play as a unit. Anyone who has played pickup basketball before can tell you that's a nearly impossible task.
Tell that to the Kings.
Sacramento earned a solid 89-75 victory over the NBA D-League Select team on Monday, as each of its five starters scored in double figures.
Shooting guard Ben McLemore led the way with a team-high 18 points, while rookie Nik Stauskas continued to flash his long-range game. Stauskas finished with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting, knocking down three of his four attempts from beyond the arc. He's scored in double figures in each of his three games.
After a couple up-and-down performances amid streaky shooting, the Kings finally got into a rhythm in their third contest. They hit 55.4 percent of their shots and looked strong at moving the ball around the perimeter.
Point guard Ray McCallum earned his first Summer League double-double, scoring 10 points and adding 12 assists. Big men Derrick Williams (17 points) and Quincy Acy (14 points, 7 rebounds) also excelled against a group of D-Leaguers who looked a step out of their league.
Former Laker Devin Ebanks kept his team in the contest with a game-high 22 points and six rebounds. Tony Mitchell, who has looked strong so far in Vegas, added 15 points. Trent Lockett (10 points) was the only other Select member who scored in double figures, as they finished at 40.6 percent shooting. Thanks in large part to Ebanks and Mitchell, the D-League opened to a 22-16 first-quarter lead before dropping the final three frames.
The Kings moved to 2-1 with the win. Their previous high-scoring game was 72 points, so it'll be interesting to see if they can keep the offense going for the rest of the week.
New York Knicks 95, Charlotte Hornets 72
If only teams had the option of carrying their Summer League records into October. The Knicks' junior varsity squad continued its excellent showing in Las Vegas on Monday afternoon, clobbering the Hornets, 95-72, in a blowout that was even more lopsided than the score suggests.
Opening the game with a 17-3 run, the Knicks' win was rarely in doubt from the opening tip. They doubled up Charlotte 62-31 going into halftime and led by 39 points early in the fourth quarter. Only a 28-14 fourth quarter allowed the Hornets to keep the game within relative respectability.
Forward Jeremy Tyler led all scorers with 19 points and added eight rebounds. Tyler was one of four New York players in double figures, as the Knicks shot 54.3 percent from the field. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Langston Galloway added 17 points apiece, while Shane Larkin dominated the point guard battle en route to a 14-point performance.
The Knicks were without second-round pick Cleanthony Early, who sat with an ankle injury. His status for the remainder of Summer League is to be determined. Center Cole Aldrich also sat out Monday after injuring his left calf and will likely sit out going forward, per Al Iannazzone of Newsday.
Thanasis Antetokounmpo, New York's other second-round pick, had four points and two rebounds. Antetokounmpo, the brother of Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, has struggled picking up the speed of the game and has had consistent foul issues. He's picked up 19 fouls in three games so far.
Despite the defeat, the Hornets got fine offensive output from the three players they care about most. P.J. Hairston and Cody Zeller each scored a team-high 18 points, and lottery pick Noah Vonleh had 13 points and five rebounds. They were the only three players who scored in double figures for Charlotte, which dropped to 0-3.
Hairston shot 6-of-14 from the field and made half of his six three-pointers, a stark contrast to his miserable first two games. Zeller was making his first appearance after attending his brother's wedding over the weekend. And Vonleh finally made half of his shots in a game.
Given that Vonleh and Hairston were a combined 11-of-59 through their first two games—18.6 percent for those of you keeping track at home—the Hornets will probably take this result. Even if it comes in an embarrassing loss.
Dallas Mavericks 88, Toronto Raptors 57
The final score is rarely the most important thing in NBA Summer League games. Instead, the individual development of young players and rookies is what front offices and scouts are truly interested in when July rolls around.
Still, a score like 88-57 is sure to turn some heads, regardless of what the calendar says.
The Dallas Mavericks eviscerated the Toronto Raptors behind a dominant second quarter. In fact, Dallas outscored Toronto 25-10 in the second to open up what proved to be an insurmountable 47-26 lead at the break.
The Mavs put it on cruise control in the second half, but C.J. Fair certainly seized his opportunity to make a memorable impression on those in attendance. SportsCenter captured his rim-rattling dunk in the third quarter:
Fair’s draft stock slipped a bit because he struggled at times with his jumper at Syracuse, but his athleticism has never been questioned. It’s not hard to see why. He finished with seven points and four rebounds behind 3-of-7 shooting from the field.
Ricky Ledo led the way for Dallas with 18 points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals. On the losing side, DeAndre Daniels paced the scoring for the Raptors with 16 points.
San Antonio Spurs 88, New Orleans Pelicans 86
Even in the Summer League, the San Antonio Spurs simply find a way to win.
Fans were treated to a legitimate nail-biter Monday when the Spurs took on the New Orleans Pelicans, and it took a game-winning play from Jeff Ayres to win 88-86. New Orleans actually held an 86-85 lead with 19 seconds remaining, but Ayres carried the day, as the team’s official Twitter page noted:
Ayres' and-1 puts the Spurs up 88-86 with 6 seconds left to play. #GoSpursGo— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) July 15, 2014
It was a back-and-forth final quarter that was tied at 81 with 2:37 remaining. It was the Spurs’ balanced scoring attack (surprise, surprise) that helped tally the victory.
Ayres finished with 11 points and five rebounds, Austin Daye scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, JaMychal Green totaled 14 points and nine rebounds and Darius Morris led the way with 19 points.
On the losing side, DeQuan Jones impressed with 20 points, Courtney Fells totaled 19 points, Josh Carter scored 15 points and former Louisville standout Russ Smith turned some heads with 14 points, 10 assists and five rebounds.
Smith could certainly find his way into a rotation if he continues to put forth efforts like he did Monday night.
Cleveland Cavaliers 86, Philadelphia 76ers 77
It’s certainly telling about the bright future of the Cleveland Cavaliers that some of their NBA Summer League games in July are drawing more attention than many of their 2013-14 regular season contests did.
That was the case Monday when Cleveland knocked off the Philadelphia 76ers 86-77.
Jared Greenberg of NBA TV captured the scene before the contest even began:
Andrew Wiggins and Nerlens Noel provided the fans with some of those highlight plays they were craving. The NBA shared one of Wiggins’ incredible moves, while Bleacher Report and the Philadelphia 76ers described the excitement surrounding Noel’s blocking prowess:
Noel checks back into the game, and a #Sixers fan in the audience yells, "Block Party, baby!" Nerlens has 2 swats w/ 3:35 left in Q1.— Philadelphia 76ers (@Sixers) July 15, 2014
In terms of actual production, Wiggins finished with 10 points, three steals, three rebounds and one assist on 4-of-8 shooting from the field. Noel totaled 12 points, six rebounds, four blocks and two steals on the evening.
Matthew Dellavedova actually led the way with 19 points for the Cavaliers, while Jordan McRae paced the scoring for the 76ers with 18 points.
Los Angeles Clippers 91, Miami Heat 85
It’s been an up-and-down offseason to say the least for the Miami Heat, and Monday’s back-and-forth 91-85 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers served as something of a metaphor for the month of July.
Miami held a four-point lead heading into the fourth quarter and appeared on its way to a victory, but the Clippers ripped off a dominant final stretch and outscored the Heat 27-17 to end the game. The tandem of Amath M’Baye and Lorenzo Brown was unstoppable.
M’Baye poured in 27 points, grabbed four rebounds, dished out two assists and tallied two steals, while Brown finished with 22 points, four assists and three rebounds. It may not have been Chris Paul and Blake Griffin out there, but they were a formidable one-two punch.
One notable name on the Miami side was Shabazz Napier, who finished with eight points and two steals. It has been a less-than-impressive showing in Summer League play thus far for Napier, and he didn’t do much to turn the tide on that momentum Monday night.
Scott Suggs led the Heat in the scoring department with 14 points.
Los Angeles Lakers 89, Golden State Warriors 88 OT
In terms of NBA Summer League action, it doesn’t get much more exciting than the Los Angeles Lakers 89-88 victory over the Golden State Warriors.
The Lakers trailed by one with 16 seconds remaining but were able to force a turnover from the Warriors. That set up the final play, which resulted in a hero moment for Jordan Clarkson. The Los Angeles Lakers official Twitter page shared the celebration after Clarkson’s game-winning tip-in clinched the contest:
And the celebration. pic.twitter.com/1ckWDvmFcG— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) July 15, 2014
Clarkson led the way in the box score as well with 19 points and seven rebounds. Of particular interest for Lakers fans though was the performance of first-round draft pick Julius Randle, who tallied 14 points and four rebounds but also turned the ball over five times.
It is just Summer League, so there is time to correct any issues, but the fact that Randle turned the ball over so much from a big-man spot has to be somewhat concerning for Los Angeles.
For Golden State, Justin Holiday was incredible with 26 points. Teammate Orlando Johnson finished with 16 points and five rebounds, while college notable Aaron Craft finished with 13 points, three rebounds and two steals.
Utah Jazz 87, Milwaukee Bucks 71
Jabari Parker and the Milwaukee Bucks won the fourth quarter 21-18, but by then it was far too late.
The Utah Jazz won 87-71, and Rodney Hood outplayed his former Duke teammate by a large margin. Hood finished with 29 points, five assists, three rebounds and two steals for the Jazz, while Parker totaled 14 points, four steals, two rebounds and two assists.
While Hood definitely put forth the best individual performance in the box score, it was Dante Exum who thrilled fans and commentators alike with his silky-smooth ball-handling and overall speed.
Kevin Pelton of ESPN Insider and Zach Harper of CBS Sports were particularly taken aback:
Pretty certain Dante Exum just teleported from one spot to another on a cut. Nobody's that fast, right?— Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) July 15, 2014
Dante Exum spins the opposite way in the Northern hemisphere.— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) July 15, 2014
Exum only finished with six points, but the future certainly looks bright for the young point guard.
Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.