The Portland Trail Blazers were dispatched 86-73 in their 2016 Las Vegas Summer League debut against the Phoenix Suns on Saturday. Former rookie sensation Devin Booker led the Suns with a blistering 28 points-- twice as much as any Blazer. Unsurprisingly, the Blazers were heated and the match-up turned physical early.
Partway through the third quarter, Blazers forward Noah Vonleh, who finished the game with Portland's only double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds), got tangled with Booker, and the two had to be separated. The play resulted in offsetting technical fouls but was very much in the flow of the game, according to Trail Blazers Summer League head coach Dale Osbourne:
"It got a little physical and the ref did a good job of going in and separating them, so I didn't think there was much to it. That's going to happen in the game of basketball."
Vonleh similarly downplayed the skirmish:
"I went to set a pin-down screen on him and he kind of tried to run through my chest, so we got caught up and I just tried to push him off."
Also disappointed with the game was incoming rookie Jake Layman, but for different reasons. The highly touted 3-point shooter went 0-5 from deep, his only field goal coming from a breakaway dunk on No. 8 overall pick Marquese Chriss. The dunk was sorely needed, as Layman was the victim of a Chriss spin move early on.
"I wasn't dwelling on the spin move," Layman said after the game. "I'm not even worried about the dunk either. I need to come out and play better for our team. I need to come out and make shots for us."
His first summer league game would end with an underwhelming five points and six rebounds in nearly 28 minutes off the bench, though he did find his confidence in the second half; something he stated that he would need more of after succumbing to first game jitters.
Again, coach Osbourne was not overly concerned:
"I think Jake played well. I think he plays hard. Obviously he didn't shoot the ball well, but he's only been with us four days, so we still got a lot more time to work with him. He's another kid that works extremely hard."
The Blazers' next opportunity to collect themselves will come tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. PDT, when they take on the San Antonio Spurs.