The Spurs may not have played today, but that doesn't matter. There was basketball, and I was watching it. So naturally, I have some thoughts, opinions and even some straight up facts about it. Enough lolly-gagging, let's get to what in the Sam Hill happened.
Minnesota Timberwolves 80, Miami Heat 71
Remember when I said I had a feeling that this game was going to be "meh", but I didn't know why? Well, this game was actually pretty enjoyable to watch, which probably proves that I'm turning into a cynical blogger who can't enjoy and appreciate anything in this world. On the other hand, I actually enjoyed the game. So perhaps there's hope for me yet. Anyways, the Wolves built a large lead, there was a late attempt at a comeback before Minnesota put it out of reach; but that doesn't matter. This game would have been fun if there was no winner and everyone got trophies for participation and popsicles after the game. (Actually, the popsicles might be a good idea. It's hot out here.) Miami's summer league team, just like their actual team, is all about the trap on defense. Their guards were fast and aggressive, and it was a gamble. Either the Heat would get a steal (They had 15 in the game), or Minnesota would take advantage of the bad help defense and get a great look at a three, where they went 11-18 from on the game. The Heat had a fun defensive strategy. The Timberwolves took a lot of fun shots. This was a fun game. There, I said it.
There wasn't anything spectacular. Just a lot of solid performances all around. Dominique Jones proved that he should definitely be on an NBA roster this next season. Every time he gets the ball in transition, which has been a lot this week, you can see how much he wants to score. He's willing to literally run through somebody to get a bucket. It's almost frightening to watch. And when he's in the halfcourt, time and time again he's been able to make plays for not only himself, but others on his team with his passing. for the Warriors, they played their roving defense again, which was all over the floor again tonight. Honestly I thought the Bucks would be able to come in and run on them, but the the Warriors were willing to match the effort and ended up beating what I think is the best team out here.
Holy schnikes, was this game awesome; by far the best game I've seen in Las Vegas. I'll get to that in a second, but first i want to highlight a couple individuals who have gone a bit under the radar so far. This was my first time watching Tony Snell play, and I came away really liking his game. He is best described, like a team employee of the D-League's Iowa Energy who was sitting next to me called him, as "slithery". He has a quickness that really surprises you when you first see it, and he uses it to run off of screens for shots, and drive by defenders for one-dribble pull-ups. Another player that I liked was Erik Murphy. The big man shot the ball well, rebounded, and generally made good plays.
Alright, now to the good stuff. Let it be known: C.J. McCollum has the clutch gene. He wears clutch jeans. He has a clutch handbag. In short, he is clutch. From 4:51 left in the 4th, with his team down 4 points, he put the team on his back. He scored 13 points in the final minutes of the quarter, with the last three coming on a buzzer-beating three. OT was about even, but the Bulls got a 2-point lead late after a made free throw. With no time outs left, McCollum raced the ball down the floor and passed to a teammate. Said teammate was draped with defenders, and with time running low PASSED THE BALL TO MEYERS LEONARD WHO MADE A THREE POINT ALLEY-OOP AS TIME EXPIRED FOR THE WIN OH MY GOODNESS WHAT IN THE WORLD...Just kidding, time had run out before the ball left Leonard's hand so it didn't count. But seriously, that alley-oop three-pointer was impressive, even if it didn't count. Maybe that's how Leonard should shoot all those threes he feels so comfortable with taking from now on.
Washington Wizards 97, Denver Nuggets 67
JAN VESELY HAVE IT ALL. Well, that's not entirely true. He's kind of terrible during NBA games, but he had a really nice summer league game, so that's cool. The Dunking Ninja had 18 points on 9-11 shooting; including, yes, a couple of high-flying dunks. He did a little bit of everything as well, getting 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and a block. As for the Nuggets, they provided the 'meh" that I was looking for in the first game of the night. They were average, with the only bright spots being that Evan Fournier got to the rim when it pleased him, and Erick Green hit his threes. That's about it.
Day 5 was kind of a doozy, huh? Not that the other days haven't been doozies, but this one was MORE of a doozy. Because, you know, alley-oop threes that could have won a game if they were a half-second earlier is a little bit more craziness than I was prepared for.
The tournament portion of summer league starts tomorrow, which will probably amp up the zaniness a notch because we all know how much these young players want to win the championship...I guess. So, I invite you once again to join me on this amazing ride that is the NBA summer league.