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Hot Takes from Thunder's Chet Holmgren vs. Rockets' Jabari Smith Summer League Game

Adam WellsJuly 10, 2022

Chris Gardner/Getty Images

The first head-to-head meeting between Chet Holmgren and Jabari Smith Jr. was an underwhelming affair for both rookies, but Smith did get the final laugh thanks to the Houston Rockets' 90-88 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Summer League play.

Houston closed the game on a 7-2 run in the final 74 seconds to steal the victory.

Smith nearly posted a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds, but he made just five of 19 field-goal attempts. The Rockets forward also had three blocks and four steals in 31 minutes.

NBA @NBA

Tough Buckets 🤝 Jabari Smith Jr.<a href="https://twitter.com/HoustonRockets?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@HoustonRockets</a> Live Now on ESPN 2 <a href="https://t.co/efr7GBOq3k">pic.twitter.com/efr7GBOq3k</a>

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Jabari Smith getting it done on both ends 👀 <a href="https://twitter.com/brhoops?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@brhoops</a><br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/NBATV?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NBATV</a>) <a href="https://t.co/kts6wJmLVa">pic.twitter.com/kts6wJmLVa</a>

With the Rockets clinging to an 87-86 lead with less than 30 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Smith did an excellent job of using his toughness on defense to get a steal.

NBA @NBA

All out hustle by Jabari Smith Jr to gain possession late in Q4 on ESPN 2 <a href="https://t.co/WcNA0R7BMP">pic.twitter.com/WcNA0R7BMP</a>

Roosh @RooshWilliams

Jabari Smith dives on the ground to jump on a loose ball and call timeout with a 1-point lead and 12 seconds left. That’s a winning play.

Itamar @Itamar_17_10

Wasnt the prettiest game, but it was Hella competitive and the Rockets came out on top.<br><br>Jabari Smith struggled shooting but he had 4 Steals and 3 blocks, a monster defensively. Nix was nice with 16 and 6, Eason had 14/11/2/2/1. Christopher had 19 and 5, Washington did his thing

At some point, the Rockets need Smith to start making buckets consistently if he's going to turn into a franchise player. For now, though, his ability to change the game on the glass and with hustle plays on defense is more than enough to make Houston fans excited.

Holmgren did show off the versatility of his skill set on a night when his shot wasn't falling. He finished with 12 points on 3-of-9 shooting from the field. The 20-year-old made up for those issues by adding seven rebounds, three steals and four blocks.

The connection between Holmgren and Josh Giddey was on display in the first half.

NBA @NBA

The pass by Josh Giddey or the finish by Chet Holmgren?<br><br>Watch the <a href="https://twitter.com/okcthunder?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@okcthunder</a> connection on ESPN 2 <a href="https://t.co/sYskSYAZug">pic.twitter.com/sYskSYAZug</a>

Perhaps the most encouraging part of this game was the myriad ways Holmgren made his presence felt without having a dominant scoring day.

Brandon Rahbar @BrandonRahbar

Chet Holmgren has 3 blocks in 2 minutes.<br><br>Legit rim protector already at 195 pounds... what's he gonna look like at 215 pounds?

NBA @NBA

Chet recovers to the pain and pins the shot to the backboard 📌<a href="https://twitter.com/okcthunder?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@okcthunder</a> live now on ESPN 2 <a href="https://t.co/WsviZNl7Eh">pic.twitter.com/WsviZNl7Eh</a>

Rylan Stiles @Rylan_Stiles

Chet Holmgren blocks are so impactful. Not only do they stop a bucket, but with how fast and athletic this team wants to play more often than not it’ll lead to easy transition buckets.

Some of Holmgren's woes in this game were due to the inability of his teammates to convert on open opportunities that he set them up for.

Rylan Stiles @Rylan_Stiles

Really nice dump off pass by Chet Holmgren, OKC could not cash in. He is going to let the Thunder play so fast.

There were some individual head-to-head moments between Holmgren and Smith that provided some fireworks.

Skip Bayless @RealSkipBayless

Chet Holmgren just drove it into the lane on Jabari, wheeled and made a little left-handed jump hook over Jabari. If he can consistently do THAT in the NBA, look out.

Jackson Gatlin @JTGatlin

Jabari Smith just blocked Chet Holmgren on one end and drained a three on the other end 🔥

Despite most of the attention being on Holmgren and Smith, there were opportunities throughout the game for other players to shine.

Daishen Nix scored 16 points (6-of-9 field goals) with six assists in the win for Houston. Tari Eason had a double-double with 14 points and 11 assists in 28 minutes.

Josh Giddey had an inefficient 14 points (6-of-15 field goals), but he had a game-high eight assists. Jalen Williams contributed 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field for the Thunder.

The Rockets and Thunder are both off on Sunday before returning to action on Monday. Houston will play the San Antonio Spurs at 7 p.m. ET. Holmgren and the Thunder will take on No. 1 pick Paolo Banchero and the Orlando Magic at 9 p.m. ET.

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