I don't think any of us have actually been excited for summer league before. Yes, we've wanted to see how our players performed. Were they good? Did they improve? Were they worth trading up for? And so on. But now that the Utah Jazz are playing in the Las Vegas Summer league (Pour out some caffeine free root beer on the sidewalk for the Rocky Mountain Review) the games actually do matter still.
Utah secured a #5 seed in the tournament, and a 1st round bye, through their skill and decisive supremacy by:
- Losing to the Philadelphia 76ers 74-70 (Quick Recap, Dustin's take from LVSL, Videos)
- Beating the Milwaukee Bucks 87-71 (Quick Recap, Peter's take from LVSL, Videos)
- Beating the Denver Nuggets 87-69 (Quick Recap, Peter's take and interview vids from LVSL, Videos)
Overall, the Jazz finished with a +/- of +30, and "won" eight of the 12 quarters they played. Utah averaged 81.3 ppg, while stiffing the other team to only 71.3 ppg. How much of that is our amazing defense? How much of that is the fact that other teams shot poorly? I don't know. But I'll take it.
But before we go too far ahead of ourselves the Jazz face the San Antonio Spurs tonight (this afternoon?). Let's take a look at the Spurs, and all the other teams that made it this far.
Yes, let's get to it!
- [#9] Phoenix Suns vs. [#24] Minnesota Timberwolves: The Suns were the best team not to get a first round bye, but the T-wolves, the worst team to make the tournament, just sent them home, saying buh-bye after beating them 86-77. The Suns were paced by T.J. Warren (26 pts), Elias Harris (16 pts, 6 reb), but no one else really stepped up. For the Wolves they got a lot of things to cheer for from Zach LaVine (20 pts, 3 reb, 2 ast), and Kyrylo Fesenko (17 pts, 8 reb, 2, ast, 2 blk). Wolves reporters pointed out that Zach and Fes have good chemistry on the court, and Fes was the guy scoring the "dagger" buckets to send the Suns setting.
- [#10] Dallas Mavericks vs. [#23] Charlotte Hornets: And this was the SECOND upset of the day, a 82-81 win on a Roberto Nelson game winning three, where he had to dribble up the entire court. (BTW, I found out why we didn't take a time out in Game 1, you don't get as many as in the NBA. Something like one per quarter.) The Hornets were up by 17 at the half, but the Mavs fought back. Ivan Johnson was tossed from this game for, well, being Ivan -- but I don't think he would have been able to help them much -- Chris Goulding was golden enough for both in the fourth. Gal Mekel had 17, 6, 5 and got to the line 9 times for Dallas. For the Hornets their rookies P.J. Hairston (18, 5, 2, 1) and Noah Vonleh (14, 10, 2) did all the heavy lifting. Very interesting game.
- [#11] Golden State vs. [#22] Atlanta Hawks: AND YET ANOTHER UPSET! Steve Kerr 's new team is out after falling to the Hawks 68-65. Justin Holiday (15, 4, 1, 1, 1) and Nemanja Nedovic (14, 3, 1) and Ognjen Kuzmic (6, 10) along don't make you a great team, despite their solid contributions. They needed some help. For the Hawks former Jazz crush Dennis Schroder had 17, 2, 2, 1 and made two threes, despite going 5/15 from the floor. Mike Muscala added 14, 6, 2, 1, 1, and there were a bunch of other Hawks players helping out. Heck, Trevor Releford came off the bench to drain three thress for them on his way to 14 points as a reserve.
- [#12] San Antonio Spurs vs. [#21] Milwaukee Bucks: The Spurs demolished the exciting to watch Bucks 100-71. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 20, 7, 2, but also added 5 fouls and 6 turn overs. Jabari Parker had 16 and 4, but also had 4 fouls, and 7 turn overs. That's almost the entire game right there, right? If it wasn't for Paker's ability to get to the line (went 10/13 there) this game would have even been more lopsided. As for the Spurs, well, they scored triple digits in a 40 minute game. A huge part was causing turn overs, so, eep. They weren't remarkable on offense in any other way, they made their free throws, only made 9 threes . . . but everyone does something on their team. Kyle Anderson had 14, 3, 2; Vander Blue had 12, 3; Marcus Denmon had 11, and, well, seriously, they finished this game early and everyone got a chance to play -- and even though everyone on the Spurs got the play, the Bucks couldn't get back into the game. The Spurs advance on to play the Jazz. SO, well, there's that. I hope the Jazz didn't get the #5 seed for beating up on bad teams. I hope we're actually good.
- [#13] Miami Heat vs. [#20] Los Angeles Clippers: This was a solid game, and a solid 96-87 win for the Heat. Keith Benson (you may have heard of him) had 18, 6, and 4 blocks for the Clippers off the bench. DeAndre Liggins had 14 for them, and Amath M'Baye added 12. But it's not enough. The Heat guys really try hard. Justin Hamilton had 18, 5, 1, 1, 1; Scott Suggs had 15 points off the bench, Frank Gaines had 13 points off the bench, and this is over and above all of their starters scoring in double figures (save for Tyler Johnson who had 8 points, but added 2 rebounds, 5 assists, and only took 7 shots).
- [#14] Houston Rockets vs. [#19] Toronto Raptors: This has not been a good summer league for the Raps, who managed to score only 5 points in the 3rd quarter -- on their way to a 93-77 loss. Dwight Buycks had 24 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, and 8 turn overs for Toronto. He was their best player. Bruno Caboclo had 12 points. For H-Town, Isaiah Canaan had 18 points, as did Donatas Motiejunas. By themselves they probably could have taken the Raps. Moving on . . .
- [#15] NBA D-League Select vs. [#18] Denver Nuggets: The D-Leaguers won 87-75, and while the Nuggets played better than when we played them, they still didn't play that great. Garry Harris had 15 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals. Quincy Miller, a big part of what they do, had only 2 points. Erick Green pick up some of the slack, but his 17 points weren't quite enough. The D-League guys must have a super chip on their shoulder because they are the D-League guys that the actual NBA teams didn't think were good enough to put on their summer league team. Tony Mitchell had 26 points for them, a bunch of other guys you've never heard of balled pretty hard as well. Jones had 19. Three other guys had double digit points too.
- [#16] Philadelphia 76ers vs. [#17] Los Angeles Lakers: Philly continues to win without playing Nerlens Noel. What the heck. Sean Kilpatrick had 19, and so did Elijah Millsap. The Lakers, just in general, suck. But Kevin Murphy, former Jazz pick, had 12 points.
So in the first round there were three upsets in eight games. This is why I wanted that 1st round bye -- it removes the chance of looking bad, and getting hurt by a team you should be handling easily.
The Second Round:
- [#1] Chicago Bulls vs. [#16] Philadelphia 76ers: The 76ers run should end here
- [#2] New York Knicks vs. [#15] NBA D-League Select: You wanna root for the underdog here, but not likely to win
- [#3] Cleveland Cavaliers vs. [#14] Houston Rockets: Andrew Wiggins is good.
- [#4] Washington Wizards vs. [#13] Miami Heat: These two teams just faced each other in Game 3 of the prelims, with the Wizards wining by 2. This is going to be fun to watch.
- [#5] Utah Jazz vs. [#12] San Antonio Spurs: The team with the game plan vs. the team with the star players. We know how this usually works out when it's the Spurs with the plan.
- [#6] Portland Trail Blazers vs. [#22] Atlanta Hawks: I think the clock is going to strike 12 on Cinderella here, sorry Hawks.
- [#7] New Orleans Pelicans vs. [#23] Charlotte Hornets: The winner gets to retire Alonzo Mourning's jersey?
- [#8] Sacramento Kings vs. [#24] Minnesota Timberwolves: Who can stop Fesenko?
Our game is later on today, at 4:00 pm MT (or 4:30 pm MT if you've been following along on twitter). The Spurs are smart and we're talented. We have no shot if Rudy Gobert isn't playing. And really, one thing we've seen here in this tournament is that size trumps medium skilled players. If we're bigger then them, and Rudy and Malcolm Thomas do their work inside, we may be able to move on.