Adam Morrison impresses on sixth day of NBA Summer League

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LAS VEGAS — NBA Summer League finished up with its fifth consecutive day of basketball on Wednesday evening and, as usual, there was a lot of basketball played. Not all of it was good basketball, unfortunately, but it was all basketball and there were some good things happening.

The best thing that happened was the re-emergence of former first round pick Adam Morrison as he attempts to make the Los Angeles Clippers. Morrison put on quite the show en route to 23 points on 13 shots while nailing all three of his 3-point attempts … and he’d have scored even more if it the Summer League awarded style points (and not just for his hair).

Some of the other notable performances included the following players:

  • Tobias Harris played very well for the Milwaukee Bucks, but we’ve already talked about him on this very blog. In lieu of singing more Harris’s praises, Bucks rookie John Henson was also pretty impressive with an active 20 points and nine rebounds while making his Summer League debut. The rest of the team was largely inconsequential — and Larry Sanders in particular was actually disappointing — and the team actually ended up in the loss column despite Henson and Harris.
  • The Washington Wizards finished their Summer League foray with equal amounts of questions and answers as they were the first team to complete all five of their games. Bradley Beal continued to look very solid with 18 points, six rebounds and a pair of nice blocks — though he was only able to knock down one of his two free-throw attempts late in the game — while Shavlik Randolph had 11 points and 10 rebounds despite making just three of his 11 shot attempts.  Chris Singleton also put together a frustratingly-fun performance with 10 points, six rebounds, two steals, two blocks and seven fouls as he continued to be overly aggressive.
  • Undrafted rookie Scott Machado had a very good game for the Houston Rockets with 20 points, six assists and four steals while looking like the assist-man he should be after struggling earlier in the week. The Rockets got solid performances out of their drafted players, too, as Royce White finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds, Terrence Jones had (an inefficient) 16 points and nine rebounds and Jeremy Lamb scored 16 points to go with eight rebounds … though his complaining about his teammates not passing him the ball often enough was a bit distracting.
  • Harrison Barnes struggled quite a bit as he shot just 5-of-17 from the floor, but he was clutch down the stretch as he helped the Golden State Warriors to a 65-62 victory. Charles Jenkins was pretty solid in the first three quarters with 17 points, but ended up rather quiet down the stretch.
  • Jimmy Butler put together another good game for the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday afternoon scoring 24 points, but it was the play of Malcolm Thomas that continued to stand out after a stellar season in the NBA Development League. Thomas put together his second consecutive double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds in a loss.
  • Cory Joseph, last year’s first round pick for the San Antonio Spurs, scored 22 points and dished six assists to look like the player fans hoped he’d become. D-League veteran Eric Dawson scored 11 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as he attempts to prove he’s big enough to play in the NBA’s post.
  • The Atlanta Hawks scored a paltry 67 points in a victory over the Dallas Mavericks, but the majority of them came by way of John Jenkins as he scored 21 points as he made 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. Fellow rookie Mike Scott was very efficient, too, needing just four shots to score 11 points as he grabbed seven rebounds in the victory.
  • The Dallas Mavericks took their first loss of the week, but it wasn’t due to the play of second round pick Jae Crowder. Crowder scored 20 points while staying active to compile eight rebounds and a pair of steals, but his teammates weren’t able to hold up their end of the bargain. Dominique Jones made just five of his 16 attempts to score 11 points (and losing his Summer League scoring leader title in the works) while backup point guard Justin Dentmon shot just 2-of-9 from the field to not quite counteract his five assist, zero turnover performance.
  • Austin Rivers didn’t play for the New Orleans Hornets after looking a bit subpar throughout their first couple of games in Vegas, but the team wasn’t lacking when free agent Brian Roberts took over point guard duties on Wednesday night. The veteran guard scored a team-high 16 points while matched up against first round pick Kendall Marshall to lead his team to victory.
  • Speaking of Kendall Marshall, he managed to get up more than the one shot he attempted in the Phoenix Suns’ first Summer League game. Unfortunately he got 10 shots up — and missed nine of them — while backup Diante Garrett had a more efficient seven points off the bench. Former Ohio State standout David Lighty started and scored just four points, but showed the defensive potential he’s known to have..

Day seven will hopefully continue with more great basketball — or at least fun if Adam Morrison continues to impress.

Anthony Davis on sprained ankle: “Rolled it pretty bad… I’ll be fine”

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Anthony Davis has been the best Laker throughout the playoffs, particularly in the Western Conference Finals against the Denver Nuggets. Davis averaged 32.3 points a game while shooting 55.3% from the floor, and the Los Angeles Lakers are outscoring the Nuggets by seven points per 100 possessions when Davis is on the floor.

Behind the play of Davis, the Los Angeles Lakers are up 3-1 on the Denver Nuggets and now just have to do what the Jazz and Clippers couldn’t: Get one more win.

Which might be harder to do after Davis rolled his ankle midway through the fourth quarter Thursday night.

Davis stayed in the game after that, but could it impact him in Game 5?

“[My] Ankle feels fine. Got tonight, tomorrow before the game to get it back to, I don’t want to say back to where it was, but good enough to play,” Davis said postgame. “Rolled it pretty bad but not too bad. I’ll be fine.”

Laker coach Fran Vogel noted that with ankles it is often the next day when there is a sense of the severity.

“We’ll see how it responds overnight, responds to treatment,” Vogel said. “Yeah, there’s always concern with an injury like that. It was good for him to play through it, but we’ll see how he responds overnight.”

With the Lakers just one win from the NBA Finals, if Anthony Davis can walk he will play on Saturday in Game 5. The Lakers want to close this series out, they have seen what happens to teas that let the Nuggets hang around.

 

LeBron James speaks more on Breonna Taylor, power of Black women

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The decision not to prosecute the police officers who shot Breonna Taylor in her home has frustrated and angered NBA players. A number of them have spoken out, including Utah’s Donovan Mitchell, who played his college ball in Louisville, Taylor’s home town.

LeBron James also has spoken out, saying the walls of Taylor’s neighbors got more justice than she did.

Asked about it after the Lakers Game 4 win on Thursday, LeBron spoke about justice.

LeBron also had taken to social media to talk about the challenges Black women face.

When asked about that Tweet after Thursday’s game, James was more than willing to open up on the topic.

“You just look at the history of America and the disrespect that Black women have gotten for the last 400 years. You can’t turn a blind eye to that,” James said. “When I look at my household and see my daughter, who is five on her way to six, my wife and my mom, rest in peace my grandmother, so many Black women have done so many things for me. Seeing the sacrifices they made, especially my mom when I was growing up. They were disrespected along the way and it’s still like that today.

“In the case of Breonna Taylor’s case, it’s just shown once again that the walls of the neighbor is more important than her life.

“So not only did I want to acknowledge all the queens in this world, all the Black queens in this world, but the ones in my life, the personal ones, too. I just kind of had a moment yesterday. I mean, I have a lot of moments, but felt like it was important to let Black women know that you’re not alone. No matter the disrespect or what they may feel, don’t stop. Because that’s exactly what they want you guys to do. They want you guys to stop. They want you guys not to be as powerful as you guys are, not as strong as you guys are, as determined as you guys are. They want you all to be at bay. They want you to accept what’s going on. For sure, I won’t allow that.”

Powerful words from LeBron, who once again is using his platform to speak for a lot of others with these sentiments.

Second chance points, clutch LeBron defense earns Lakers win to go up 3-1 on Denver

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It’s a simple and obvious truth about any basketball game: The team that shoots better usually wins.

The Denver Nuggets shot 50.6% in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, including 10-of-28 from three (leading to a true shooting percentage of 62%). The Los Angeles Lakers shot 47.5% overall and 10-of-30 from three (a true shooting percentage of 59.7%). The Nuggets shot better Thursday night.

However, the better shooting team does not win when it gets crushed in another key area.

The Lakers grabbed the offensive rebound on 40.4% of their missed shots — including at three critical possessions in crunch time — and scored 25 second-chance points to Denver having six. Combine that with an aggressive and attacking LeBron James and Anthony Davis getting to the free-throw line 28 times — Denver as a team had 23 free throw attempts — and LeBron playing fantastic defense down the stretch on Jamal Murray, and a team can overcome a shooting deficit.

The result was the Lakers holding off a resilient Denver team to win 114-108, taking a commanding 3-1 series lead. Game 5 is Saturday night.

While the Nuggets came back from 3-1 down on the Jazz and Clippers, this series feels different — Denver may have run out of miracles. The way the Lakers closed out this game showed why the Lakers will not go the ways of Jazz and Clippers.

Once again, Davis was the best Laker on the floor, scoring 34 points on 10-of-15 shooting plus playing strong defense (his light rebounding numbers, five in this game, are overblown because the Lakers as a team are rebounding well).

But there are two key reasons the won the Lakers the game — two critical reasons they were able to hold off a Denver comeback when the Jazz and Clippers faltered in similar situations:

• The Lakers were dominant on the offensive glass, as mentioned above. They got a second chance on four out of 10 missed shots (the league average is about 26-27% of missed shots become offensive rebounds). Dwight Howard was doing it early, Davis was doing it late (plus Rajon Rondo had a critical one), but the Lakers getting a second chance to score and run off some clock down the stretch changed the game.

• LeBron James asked to guard Jamal Murray down the stretch — in the final five minutes of the game Murray was 0-of-3 shooting.

“LeBron asked for the assignment and obviously I granted it…” Lakers’ coach Frank Vogel said postgame. “Nothing was really working in terms of trying to slow him down until ‘Bron took that assignment.”

Vogel isn’t kidding. Murray was torching the Lakers, getting into the lane, and finding a way to finish — including maybe the best layup of the playoffs so far.

Murray finished with 32 points on 12-of-20 shooting, but LeBron held him mostly in check down the stretch (Murray did hit four free throws).

LeBron also had a strong game despite his jumper not falling because he hunted mismatches, throwing the Denver defense into a scramble, plus LeBron commands a double team when he gets the ball at the elbow or on the block and that opens things up.

Another key for Los Angeles was a great first half from Dwight Howard, who had 11 points and 10 rebounds in the first half while keeping the ball out of Jokic’s hands. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 13 points.

Davis rolled his ankle in the fourth quarter, limped around on it, stayed in the game and made some plays down the stretch. A slowed Davis would be a reason for concern for the Lakers.

“My ankle feels fine,” Davis said postgame. “I’ve got tonight, tomorrow, before the game to get it back to where it is, but it’s good enough to play. I rolled it pretty bad, but not too bad. I’ll be fine.”

If Denver is going to shock the world, it needs to keep Paul Millsap and his defense on the floor more, then the Nuggets need Gary Harris and other bench players to step up with big moments.

The Nuggets also need to find a way to slow LeBron and Davis. There may not be an answer to that question.

Watch Jamal Murray hit insane hand-switching layup around LeBron

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Are. You. Kidding. Me.

You are not going to see a better layup these playoffs than this one by Denver’s Jamal Murray, going around LeBron James near the end of the first half of Game 4.

Murray went up thinking dunk, had to change his mind because of LeBron, brought it down, went around him, and spun it in off the glass. Insane. It had some people on Twitter referencing the legendary Michael Jordan hand-switching shot. Not sure I’m willing to compare this Murray shot to a layup that helped launch a dynasty, but it’s close.

Murray had 16 in the first half but the Nuggets trailed at the break 60-55 in a high scoring first half. Anthony Davis had 19 to lead the Lakers.