I thought our first game of the Las Vegas Summer League played out about as expected. You can attribute the 19 turnovers to jitters, conditioning and cobwebs, issues that should be resolved, at least partially, by Game 2 on Wednesday. As for letting the Raptors shoot 51 percent from the field, chalk that up to the difficulties of mastering a defensive system in five practices.
"The one thing I know we can account for that we did not do a good job of -- and again, this is all of us, from coaches to players -- we didn’t do a very good job defensively," said Joe Prunty, who is manning the head coaching duties for the Trail Blazers in Las Vegas. "Fifty-one percent from the field and 92 points is a little bit more than we’re willing to accept."
Aside from being a bit too sloppy with the ball and a bit too relaxed at times on defense, the Trail Blazers played a decent game. And really, this summer league is all about three players: Jerryd Bayless, Dante Cunningham and Jeff Pendergraph. No disrespect to the rest of the roster, but those three are the reason we're in Las Vegas. Here's what each had to say after the game, along with a few thoughts on their performances.
Bayless tallied more assists in last night's game (seven) than he logged in all four of last year's summer league games combined, so the initial returns on his ability to be a distributor rather than a volume scorer have been positive. He's still going to get buckets (22 points on 7-of-17 shooting) and trips to the free throw line (7-of-8), but the goal is getting everybody involved.
Bayless Postgame (2.3 MB)
Cunningham probably had the best game of anyone in a Blazers uni Monday night, finishing with 21 points and nine boards. Cunningham showed an ability to hit the open shot while also hitting the boards, skills that will endear him to Portland's coaching staff if he can keep it up.
"We had to pick up the tempo a little bit and try to trap a little bit and I really felt (Cunningham) did a good job there," said Prunty. "For his first game I’m pleased with what I saw. But like everybody tonight, we’ve got to get better, and I know he will moving forward in the next four games."
Cunningham Postgame (1.1 MB)
I thought Pendergraph played a nice game, especially considering he played center for the Trail Blazers. He had three dunks, a layup, a made jump shot and a few free throws to finish with 12 points in 26 minutes. Pulling down nine rebounds isn't too shabby, and he did it while committing just three fouls. I really like Pendergraph's chances of making this team. Seems like a real funny dude, and with Channing now gone, we need someone to keep the weird flowing. I think JP might be that guy.
Pendergraph Postgame (2.2 MB)
Coach McMillan watched the game from the top of the stands, as he often does in Las Vegas. Here's what he thought of the performance.
McMillan Postgame (2.8 MB)