After leading for most of the game, the Portland Trail Blazers gave up a 16-0 run to the Rockets in the third quarter, then tightened the screws and made enough plays to pull away for the 75-67 victory. The Blazers are now 1-1 in Summer League play. The first three games are used to place teams in the bracket for the single-elimination tournament that starts Wed. July 16th.
This game was all Blazers, all the time, save for a horrendous third quarter. Maybe everyone got tired. Maybe they figured a double-digit lead was enough. It wasn’t, and the Rockets bombed their way back into the game, going on a 16-0 run that included four straight three-pointers.
Down 7 to start the 4th, the Blazers got back under control, but it wasn’t until a sick out-of-bounds lob from McCollum to Barton (see below) that the Blazers re-took the lead.
The Rockets didn’t have an answer, and the Blazers walked away winners.
C.J. McCollum led all players with 19 points, but he needed 16 shots to get there. He also added 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and a few steals in what was a second straight underwhelming game for him, despite the stats. We’re looking for McCollum to be transcendental. A past lottery pick, he should be able to carve up Summer League competition like last year’s turkey. While he can definitely shoot and is sneaky quick, he’s never seemed the 2 or 3 steps ahead of the July competition he needs to make you feel like he’ll excel come November.
Will Barton and Thomas Robinson, on the other hand, looked a little better. Barton didn’t shoot well (15 points off 15 shots), but had 7 rebounds and 3 assists… more importantly, he could cut through the defense at will, and his passing was tres magnifique. I said it last game and I’ll say it again: he would have had twice as many assists if his passes hadn’t been bobbled. T-Rob had the game’s lone double-double with 17 and 12. He had 7 fouls, but hey… it’s Summer League. More importantly, his elite athleticism is being complimented not only by more patient offensive scheming, but by straight-from-LMA moves like a nice, high-arcing midrange jumper, and a turn-to-the-middle-from-the-left-block move that #12 himself would be proud of. Both Barton and Robinson are developing.
Joel Freeland looks ready to go, as always. His jumper isn’t falling, but you don’t need it to. It would be nice, sure, but he’s out there to play defense and not screw things up. Against Summer League competition, his 13 and 9 with a block looks great. Against NBA competition, it will give you the steady 6 and 5 you need from him in limited minutes.
Allen Crabbe isn’t making the best use of his Summer League. He may as well be aggressive, as he has nothing to lose and everything to gain, but instead you’d hardly know he was there.
Bobby Brown looked about 2 steps slower than Barton, but got 10 points.
Meyers Leonard sat out a second straight game with a shoulder injury.
The Blazers play their final game before the Summer League tournament starts on Tuesday against the 0-2 Atlanta Hawks.