Portland Trail Blazers 75, Houston Rockets 67: Summer League 2014 Recap

Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers withstood a rain storm of Houston Rockets three-pointers, using team-focused play and surprisingly strong defense to grab their first victory of 2014 Vegas Summer League.

The Portland Trail Blazers showed signs of defense and cohesion, giving the fans a fun first half before things fell apart around a barrage of Houston Rockets three-pointers. The Blazers recovered though, and showed some nice Summer League resilience. This was generally a fun game, and gave us a little insight into the Blazers' youngsters' slow progress. It was light-years ahead of what we saw last summer, and wouldn't be a bad game to watch on replay.

Short Recap:

Box score and video highlights

The Blazers showed they could play as a unit, using defense and rebounding to push the ball in the first half. Portland was finding solid shots, thanks to running their offense and moving the ball. At times, they even ran some regular season offensive sets. At the other end, Portland played defense. I know this sounds foreign, but it's true. They kept the Rockets from easy shots, and used steals to set up transition buckets. Late in the half, the team got a little laxy, and the Rockets used that to their advantage, keeping the game close.

Unfortunately in the second half, the Blazers' cohesion vanished, and so did their 9 point lead. Portland's offensive organization and movement stopped, and 1-on-1 moves reigned. The Rockets scored 18 straight points to take over the game. However, Portland's defense settled down in the fourth, and combined with a few nice offensive plays, they regained the lead. They outscored the Rockets 21-6 in the final quarter to erase the deficit and grab the win.

Players:

Meyers Leonard missed his second straight game due to a shoulder injury suffered in practice. His status for the rest of Summer League is unknown.

Thomas Robinson came out in control, hitting some 10-foot jumpers easily. He was active all night, at times looking like one of the best players on the court. He still had some issues on defense and rebounding position. And sometimes "active" isn't a positive, as he somehow ended up in foul trouble despite the 10 allowed. He scored 14 points with 12 rebounds, but went 6-13 at the free throw line.

Need moar TRob!
by allthebacon

Making much smarter plays today. Free throws are abysmal - needs to fix those if he wants to be a piece off the bench, especially on FT specialist Blazers.
by misterdfister

Like what [TRob is] bringing. Will look a lot better in an regular game when he’s not the best guy on the court and expected to produce like it.
by TheStripes

Joel Freeland held a solid, quiet inside presence. He held down the interior well, including a few nice blocks. The thing you really want to see in a player in Summer League is that he simply looks "too good to be here". Joel often looks like that when he's on the court. However, he struggled with any shot outside of three feet (including free throws), and he isn't ready to handle athletic centers on defense. He finished with 13 points and 9 rebounds.

[Joel Freeland is] getting to the FT line at will.
by KingWes

Excellent in the first half. Looked tired in the three quarter, fourth has been a little better
by Eat Politicians

Good defensive presence, working the boards
by Blazing Chargers

CJ McCollum was solid but not spectacular. He tried to push the tempo, and hit a few shots off the dribble. His shot is still a work in progress, but again his defense has been above expectations. So, he has shown us possibly the exact opposite of Summer League expectations. He still tallied a team-high 19 points with 2 steals, but shot 6-16.

CJ: Good man-to-man defense, couple nice jumpers, good pocket passes to Freeland out of the p&r. 3pt shot wasn't there. B.
by Roy Wonder

Still playing better defense. Open shots not going in.
by Blazing Chargers

Either needs to be more aggressive, or needs to be a distributor. He’s half way between, and it’s not working to the best of his abilities.
by T Darkstar

Will Barton was under control early, nice vision, and a good fake for a jumper. But he is still wild when the game gets crazy, and that backfired at times in the second half. During the Blazers' lull, there was a bit of the "Will Barton one-on-one show". But he showed some nice defensive efforts, and had a monster alley-oop dunk (passed by CJ) to take the lead in the fourth. He had 15 points on 5-15 shooting, with 7 rebounds and 3 assists.

First half: Willy B Ballin!
Second half: Willy B Crazy!
by golfballer333

The Will giveth, the Will taketh away.
by T Darkstar

Passing good. Shooting not. C+.
by Roy Wonder

Allen Crabbe played 20 minutes, but still didn't look ready for prime time. He has that "long term project" feel still, with 4 points, including one nice drive to the hoop.

What's Next:

The Blazers have a day off to practice and learn from this game, and will play the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday at 1pm. After that, it's playoff time, and all teams play at least two games.

Stay tuned later tonight, for Ben's Media Row Report from Vegas. -- Tim

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