The Blazers hammered the heck out of the hapless Houston Rockets, racking up an 84-67 victory typified by good defense, control of the interior on both ends, and a fair amount of running. The entire squad did a good job of sharing the ball, muscling up, and doing the extra work necessary to make the game easy. No worries on that account. This was probably Portland's best Summer League outing in the last three years. But no matter how well or poorly the games go this week is all about gauging individuals, so here are the initial impressions.
Luke Babbitt: Babbitt's game was a mixed bag today. As with many of his teammates he started slowly and then warmed up as the game progressed. To the good: He seems to know what to do with his body, though whether he can get it where he wants it remains an open question. He can run north to south fine. He hit some jumpers and showed a couple of drives and the ability to take contact and not fall apart, albeit against a defense softer than tissue. The questionable: Both his moves and his shots look...deliberate. Other than those couple direct drives he was unable to create any separation off the dribble, perhaps the most worrisome part of his outing. His defense was adequate as long as he had the chance to gather.
Armon Johnson: Unlike Babbitt, Johnson created plenty of separation, both for himself and separating the opponent from the ball. He was fast in every way, had busy hands on defense, stayed in front of his man, and demonstrated some passing ability on the break and in the halfcourt as long as he could drive first. It was a sizzling day for him. He led the team in minutes played.
Patty Mills: Mills started the game forcing shots, playing shooting guard more than point. When the game opened up his game settled down and he looked good on the break. He was plenty quick in transition and hit his jumpers as well. As his offense cruised his passing confidence rose and he started dishing dimes. He added rebounds as well and ended up with a nice all-around game.
Dante Cunningham: D.C. helped the Blazers dominate the middle, throwing his body around, grabbing rebounds, and generally being a nuisance on defense. He hit a couple shots but mostly supported the guards.
Jeff Pendergraph: Pendergraph had a rough outing, missing most of his shots and collecting fouls. He looked a little slow and awkward.
The hidden player of the day was Ekene Ibekwe who netted a ton of blocks and some steals, playing like a mirror of Cunningham plus hitting his opportunities. Elliot Williams did not play.
Go ahead and share your impressions here. Nice win, but there's more to see.