It's down to the quarterfinals in the 2014 Las Vegas Summer League, and there are quite a few surprising teams still in the mix.
Franchises such as the Charlotte Hornets and Atlanta Hawks have survived this far, after coming in as the No. 23 and 22 seeds in the tournament. Then there are familiar teams like the San Antonio Spurs and Chicago Bulls, who have been dominant in the summer league postseason.
Following a day off for the teams still in contention, all eight return to the court to continue their playoff runs. As multiple young stars look to take center stage yet again, they will do so with hopes of making the semifinals on Sunday afternoon.
Here's a look at all of the action from the quarterfinals on Saturday.
|Matchup||Final Score/Time (ET)||Leading Scorer|
|Charlotte Hornets vs. New York Knicks||Hornets win, 82-79||Tim Hardaway Jr., 27 pts|
|Atlanta Hawks vs. Houston Rockets||Rockets win, 78-71||Donatas Motiejunas, 19 pts|
|Sacramento Kings vs. Chicago Bulls||Kings win, 80-61||Tony Snell, 20 pts|
|San Antonio Spurs vs. Washington Wizards||Wizards win, 95-94 3OT||Glen Rice Jr., 36 pts|
|New York Knicks||4||1|
|San Antonio Spurs||4||1|
|NBA D-League Select||3||3|
|Portland Trail Blazers||2||3|
|New Orleans Pelicans||2||3|
|Los Angeles Lakers||2||3|
|Golden State Warriors||2||3|
|Los Angeles Clippers||1||4|
Charlotte Hornets 82, New York Knicks 79
After an 0-3 start to the NBA Summer League, the Hornets are now 3-0 in the Las Vegas tournament and heading to the semifinals.
P.J. Hairston and Justin Brownlee led the Hornets throughout the contest offensively. Charlotte's duo contributed 31 points to lead the team in scoring, including a combined four three-pointers on the afternoon.
The best all-around player for the Hornets was Noah Vonleh. Charlotte's first overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds and a block, which drew a reaction from Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer:
If Vonleh gets consistent with that lefty jump hook, that's going to be tough to stop.— Rick Bonnell (@rick_bonnell) July 19, 2014
Yes, Vonleh needs muscle, but lots of athleticism.— Rick Bonnell (@rick_bonnell) July 19, 2014
Patrick Ewing, the Hornets' summer league coach and former Knicks player, spoke about Vonleh's future prior to the contest, per Kurt Helin of NBC Sports:
I like Noah, I think he has a bright future in this league. He’s a rookie, he’s 19 years old, it’s going to take some time … The thing I think he needs to do is: rebound. He has to continue to rebound. His second game in here he had 18 rebounds and it’s not been consistent. Do all the things that he can be consistent with until his offense and all the other parts of his game is able to get going. He has to get stronger. But he’s a talented guy and he’s going to be one of the guys who is going to have a bright future for our team and possibly could be a star in this league.
As for the New York Knicks, the 4-0 start wasn't enough to overcome good performances by Hairston, Brownlee and Vonleh. The Knicks did get good production from Tim Hardaway Jr., who had 27 points, but he also hoisted up 20 shots, making nine, to get to that total.
Hardaway and Hairston were also seen multiple times in verbal and physical altercations, as Alan Hahn of MSG Networks notes:
Hairston and Hardaway Jr. have been engaged in a very physical, nasty battle all game. A lot of trash talking.— Alan Hahn (@alanhahn) July 19, 2014
While Hairston was finding success through a multitude of shots, Cleanthony Early continued his productive summer with the Knicks. The first-round pick finished 6-of-11 with 15 points and 10 rebounds to match Vonleh as the only two players with double-doubles and double-digit rebounds.
The two teams were relatively similar in several categories, but the Hornets bench was the difference. Thanks to Rion Brown and Jamie Skeen tallying a combined 19 points, Charlotte outscored New York's bench 25-11.
Following the win, the Hornets now move to 3-3 and advance to the semifinals against either the Atlanta Hawks or Houston Rockets. With emerging stars on both teams, Charlotte's offensive weapons will need to be on display yet again to make it to the finals.
Houston Rockets 78, Atlanta Hawks 71
After a great run to simply make the quarterfinals in the Vegas Summer League, the Hawks ride is over. The Houston Rockets sealed their fate with a 78-71 win to advance to the semifinals against the Hornets.
Houston was paced by Donatas Motiejunas, who finished the contest with 19 points and 13 rebounds to lead all players in scoring and rebounding. That performance comes on the heels of a 21-point, 11-rebound game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Carl Berman of Netscouts.com points out how Motiejunas played against the Hawks:
Houston Rockets Donatas Motiejunas impressing with his athleticism, 19 points, 13 rebounds against Atlanta at the #NBASummerLeague— Carl Berman (@carlberman) July 19, 2014
Motiejunas has shined all summer and might find a better role with the Rockets this coming season if he can continue his great play. Bobby Gerould of CBS Sports points out another player with a similar story as Houston's star that found success last summer:
Last year Reggie Jackson was a summer league star. Then he played a huge role for OKC in the season. Maybe Motiejunas is a "step up" guy.— Bobby Gerould (@BobbyGerould) July 20, 2014
Two other players that continue to show flashes of brilliance for the Rockets are Isaiah Canaan and Nick Johnson. Canaan tallied a total of 12 points and five assists, but also turned the ball over five times.
As for Johnson, the former Arizona guard registered 10 points and seven rebounds on 4-of-11, going 4-of-11 with a steal and an assist.
The Hawks got good production from several starters including guards Mike Muscala and Dennis Schroder, who both finished with 16 points. Unfortunately, they also combined to go 0-of-5 from three-point range as Atlanta finished 3-of-28 from behind the arc.
In the paint, Adreian Payne was dominant with 11 points and nine rebounds before fouling out as teammate Casey Prather also scored 13 points. Payne made his presence felt in another way as well, throwing down a highlight dunk in the game.
Houston will now face another surging team in the Hornets for a chance to make the finals. With both Hairston and Vonleh playing at a high level, there will be plenty of NBA talent on display when the two franchises face off.
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