Denver Nuggets 87, New Orleans Pelicans 82
"I expect this game to be a blowout victory for the Pelicans." I wonder what kind of idiot would have predicted that. Oh, right. I did. Jordan Hamilton seemed intent on not letting the Nuggets' summer league team go quietly into the night, as he had 18 points in the first quarter. He couldn't miss early and even got the crowd out of their seats for a minute, something that rarely happens at summer league unless there's a free t-shirt involved. After being down 31-17 at the end of the first, the Pelicans battled back into the game behind some great performances from Darius Miller, Austin Rivers, and Brian Roberts. Miller had 23 points in the game on 8-15 shooting, exhibiting the ability to score off the dribble and hit midrange shots. Rivers impressed yet again, as he had 16 points on 5-14 from the field. He looked good in the pick and roll and forced his way to the foul line. He was also mistaken as "Austin Powers" by the public address announcer, which was pretty funny. Roberts was a calming force on his team late, giving them a couple big baskets, and assisting on a Rivers three to keep the game within reach. Alas, it wasn't enough as Jordan Hamilton hit a jumper to put it away.
Portland Trail Blazers 70, Atlanta Hawks 69 (OT)
The Portland Trail Blazers are starting to build a reputation for playing in thrilling games. In Tuesday's action, they fell in extra time after a furious comeback led by C.J. McCollum. On Wednesday, they were able to complete their comeback attempt. Down 56-47 to start the 4th, it was a team effort that brought them back. Little by little, they kept chipping away on offense and strapped down defensively. They forced turnovers, hit shots (INCLUDING A CORNER THREE FROM NONE OTHER THAN MEYERS LEONARD), and out-hustled the Hawks in the fourth, eventually tying the game with a Thomas Robinson layup with 26 seconds left. They then got a stop to force OT. In OT, it was a sloppy battle, with neither team seeming capable of hitting a shot. In the final minute, McCollum took things into his own hands and forced his way to the line, where he went 1-2 for a one-point lead with 23 seconds left. On the ensuing play, Atlanta's Dennis Schröder did the same thing, hit both of his free throws, giving Atlanta a one-point lead and Portland one last chance with 17 seconds. The Blazers let Will Barton create, and he tossed in a runner from the right baseline, giving Portland the game.
Dallas Mavericks 95, Los Angeles Clippers 89
In the first game I was able to watch the Mavericks play, they were impressive. Two players individually, Josh Akognon and Jackie Carmichael, stood out above the others. Akognon, a former Washington State and Cal State Fullerton star, and journeyman in Europe, may have found a home this week. He has shown he can fill it up, and do it in a hurry. This game was no different. He had 24 points on 6-9 shooting, including 4-7 from three, and 8-8 from the FT line. He is maybe best described as a self-aware volume shooter, who has a grand total of one assist in the week, and he talked about how he needed to find his teammates better at halftime. Carmichael, a forward from Illinois State, scored 23 points on 9-14 shooting and put a dagger into the Clippers with an offensive rebound off of his own free throw and a dunk. Carmichael is a relentless rebounder, (he had 9 tonight.), and hustle player. He has a high motor, and it shows in his game. Even without elite size or speed, he's able to outwork his opponents for rebounds and putbacks. He's also got a pretty decent jumper from the elbow. I saw him play a few times when he was at Illinois State and thought he would have to be a D-League guy first. After his time this week, that may not be the case. A guy that impressed me again for the Clippers tonight was Jerome Randle. Clipperblog's Seerat Sohi wrote about him more here, but he is one of the best point guards out here. He has elite quickness, ball-handling and excellent vision. Also a capable shooter and defender, the only reason he's not already in the NBA is his 5'10" height.
The first round was fun, but the second round will be even better. Why, you ask? Because the Spurs are back to playing again. They'll face off against the Cleveland Cavaliers at 3:00 PM STTOTTM. As always, I'll be there to cover that game for you, as well as give you thoughts on the rest of the second round.