The Minnesota Timberwolves defeated the Portland Trail Blazers, 72-66, at the Las Vegas Summer League on Friday, dropping Portland's record to 1-5.
This game will take a place in the sportswriter's collection of fisherman tales. As Dallas Lauderdale entertained a crowd of a few hundred people by constantly dropping passes, a fierce storm raged outside the Thomas & Mack Center. Thunder could be heard, even over the incessant blaring of the public address announcer, and lightning struck several times within eyeshot of the stadium. Flash flood warning notifications started popping, and then reproducing like bunnies, on smartphones throughout the crowd as horror stories of delayed flights and downed trees poured in from outside.
Amid the chaos, AARP First-Team selection Shabazz Muhammad still managed to miss his jumpers and the Blazers' regulars had no problem watching the action from the sideline, shut down because they played back-to-back-to-back games earlier in the week. The young Blazers kept themselves entertained by shouting out defensive assignments, talking a little trash to the Timberwolves, and trying not to laugh as Team Turn Up and Team Dime Pieces, two collections of young ladies in high heels with one woman wearing a bra as a t-shirt, fought to win free merchandise during a dead-ball on-court shooting competition.
By the time the game ended, the storm had passed, leaving only massive puddles and a clean smell that seemed totally out of place in Las Vegas. Another Summer League was in the books, and the only thought left was whether an umbrella could fit in a bra and, if not, how was the poor Team Turn Up member going to manage.
As it turned out, though, somebody else's soggy shoulders were the least of my concerns. Returning to the hotel, I found that the parking garage elevator didn't work. I then found dozens of people in the lobby, which seemed a bit off. I then found out that the real elevators didn't work. I then found a hotel employee who did his best not to call me an idiot as he explained that the power was out in the entire hotel. I looked around. Sure enough, he was totally right. Escorted to a hidden back stairwell, I then made the 15-floor climb by the light of my iPhone and entered into a pitch black room with no air conditioning or wifi.
The good news is that it wasn't actually the End Times, and I awoke with both power and wifi. I live to fight another week.
Allen Crabbe finished with nine points on 4-for-13 shooting and seven rebounds.
Random Game Notes
- CJ McCollum, Will Barton, Thomas Robinson, Meyers Leonard, Victor Claver and Joel Freeland all sat out.
- Terrel Harris led the Blazers with 25 points and six rebounds. After the game, he said that he wasn't yet sure if he would receive a camp invite with Portland. He is on a non-guaranteed contract and the Blazers have one open roster spot. "Whatever happens, happens, as far as training camp and filling that last spot. I hope [to be in Portland for camp]. No indication [if I will be invited]."
- Below, Nate Tibbetts offered some thoughts on points of emphasis for the key guys on this team as they go forward into camp and also reflected on his week as a coach.
- As of Saturday, McCollum is the leading scorer at Summer League with 21.0 points per game while shooting 36.6 percent.
- Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com offers some grades...
- Dwight Jaynes of CSNNW.com writes...
CJ McCollum - B He lived up to the expectations. He was featured as the point guard in Summer League play, something he didn't have to do much of in college, but he handled it well. The 6-3 guard is a scorer who can run some point and once teams recognized that he could score, persistent double-teams followed. The adjustment for him at this level is going to be finishing in the paint around longer and bigger athletes. He reminds me so much of Damian Lillard. If he's truly like him, he's going to have a stellar rookie season.
Well, I watched every game and remain unconvinced that he's any sort of a lock to nail down the No. 3 guard spot with this team. After shooting under 37 percent and rolling up more turnovers than assists in this league full of lesser players, I'm not sure he's at all proved he can play the point right away. And remember, this kid is a four-year college player who you may have expected a little more from down here. And then when you think about him at the off-guard, well, he's undersized. He's going to find some pretty rough defenders and well... we'll see. We'll see.
- Danny Nowell writes at ESPN.com...
Bottom line: We didn't learn all that much about McCollum. His credentials as a scoring talent remain unquestioned, but the questions about his other talents remain unanswered. In sum, McCollum was probably very much what the Blazers expected, and while fans have every reason to be excited, they should also be prepared for a rookie season that exposes a few current weaknesses.
Video highlights, if you want to call them that, via YouTube user NBA...
Nate Tibbetts' Post-Game Comments
Takeaways from Summer League
I thought besides the record we saw some good things. I thought it was good to rest our guys tonight, it would have been their sixth game in seven days. Those guys who hadn't played got an opportunity. Overall, the guys tried to do what we asked defensively. Offensively, in this situation, they're doing things they are doing things that they're not going to do during the year. Finding that role, it's different here. We had a couple guys take a lot of shots yesterday and that probably won't happen during the regular season.
An example, with CJ, it was an opportunity for him to learn how to play the point. Earlier in the week, he was walking a lot of possessions up and by the end of the week, he was playing faster. He was getting more comfortable. I think early on he was walking it up because he was trying to think, 'What can I call?' As the week went on, he got more comfortable with our stuff and that's big moving forward.
It was a good week for him. If you were to ask him, he probably wishes he made some more shots. He got some more shots tonight, he's a really good shooter. We didn't shoot it well all week -- not just Allen, all of us. I think he's going to be a guy who stretches the floor, gives Damian [Lillard] and CJ room to work, or if they double [LaMarcus Aldridge]. He's going to be a guy defensively, you have to know where he is.
As far as our guys go, none of them shocked me. We were learning about [Thomas Robinson] the first couple of games, he was trying to find his niche. Seeing him go rebound was one of the bright spots. He can be that guy, but you have to want to be that guy every night. We saw that he has it in him and now we can try to hold him accountable to that. He can be a good player in our league if he rebounds at that level.
Points of emphasis for rotation guys that were here in Summer League
Meyers, just multiple effort, quick reaction [plays]. I wasn't here last year, but one of the things they're saying is that he's doing a much better job talking defensively, calling wall, calling blues. I think he really improved in that area.
Thomas is just comfort level with us as a staff, learning our system and then filling his role on the team, whatever that be. Playing behind LaMarcus or next to LaMarcus, being an energy guy.
Will, we saw some really good things from him. His overall ability to handle the basketball in pick and roll situations.
CJ, he played a lot this week with the ball in his hands. When Damian and LA are on the floor, he's probably not going to be in those situations. He's going to be more open than he ever was at Lehigh because he was so used to double teams and triple teams. He's going to get some open looks, he's going to be a big time shooter for us.
Summer League experience for you, in a new organization
It was great. Just being able to sit on the bench with coach [Kim] Hughes, David Vanterpool, Dale Osbourne, learning their strengths and weaknesses. We've got to make coach [Terry] Stotts' job as easy as we can. It was a good opportunity for us to work together. I thought we really did a good job as a staff, and for me, we're really just trying to learn about each other. I'm just trying to see where I fit and what I can help with.
Collective identity of the second unit players
As a second unit, you've got to bring energy, you've got to bring juice. You don't know how many minutes you're going to get, you know you're probably going to play. You don't have a lot of mistakes in you, because you know coach is always going to go back to the starters. You can impact the game, the good teams have good benches, and we want to have a good bench.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter