Denton: Lamb Showing Plenty of Improvement
By John Denton
July 8, 2013
ORLANDO – The script seemed to line up perfectly to make Doron Lamb the hero of Monday’s Summer League game and reward him all of the hours of work that he had put in this offseason to improve his fitness level and his overall game.
Already one of the Orlando Magic’s most consistent offensive players all game, Lamb stepped to the foul line with 23 seconds remaining and confidently stroked two free throws to give his team a one point lead. It was yet another example of the strides that Lamb has made this offseason in an attempt to become a player that the Magic can count on going forward.
But a dose of reality in the form of a Jeremy Lamb (no relation, Orlando’s Lamb confirmed after the game) jump shot rained on the Magic guard’s parade. Oklahoma City’s Lamb shook Maurice Harkless off the dribble and buried a free-throw-line jumper with six seconds left as the Thunder rallied to beat the Magic 79-78 in second-day action of the Southwest Airlines Orlando Pro Summer League.
While the poor finish was disappointing to the Magic (1-1), they have to be encouraged by the progress that Lamb has shown not only in the Summer League, but throughout the offseason. The organization stressed repeatedly to the 21-year-old Lamb that this offseason was one for him to dramatically improve his game, and he took it to heart by being one of the franchise’s hardest workers on the court and in the weight room with Strength and Conditioning coach Joe Rogowski.
Lamb had 16 points and two more 3-pointers on Monday, allowing the Magic to build a lead as large as 12 points early in the game. In two summer games so far, Lamb has made eight of 16 shots and five of seven 3-pointers while averaging 14.5 points per game.
``Everybody had been telling me that it was a big summer for me and I wanted to go out and work hard and get my body right. I want to be able to guard certain players in the post and be stronger,’’ Lamb said. ``I’m not getting as tired as quick as I used to and I’m stronger going to the rim. I’m still getting the ball up when I get fouled and I’m making shots. It’s all paying off for me.’’
And Lamb’s development could pay off greatly for a Magic franchise that wisely sought him to be included in the trade with Milwaukee last February. While J.J. Redick and Tobias Harris were the key pieces in the transaction, the Magic also pushed hard to have Lamb – a second-round pick in 2012 by the Bucks – be included in the deal.
Magic GM Rob Hennigan and Assistant GM Scott Perry scouted Lamb when he played at Kentucky and saw great potential in him. Harris was already a big hit with the Magic, averaging 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds over the final 27 games of last season. Now, Redick is long gone from Milwaukee, and if Lamb can further blossom for the Magic it will simply make the trade even more lopsided in favor of Orlando.
``He looks aggressive, getting to the rim, he’s stronger and he’s absorbing contact,’’ Magic assistant coach James Borrego said. ``Defensively, he’s getting through screens and you see that (added) strength. He’s worked hard just like all of our guys.’’
Borrego and the Magic were disappointed that they let a nine-point lead with three minutes to play slip away on Monday. Despite shooting just 37.1 percent, Orlando led by 12 early, stayed in control throughout and was up seven in the final two minutes. But Dwight Buycks twice put OKC ahead by one point with clutch shots. Orlando’s Lamb came back and attacked the rim, getting two free throw attempts with 23 seconds to play. When he hit them both he hoped he had done enough to help the Magic escape with a victory.
``I missed a couple of foul shots (earlier in the game) that I normally don’t (miss),’’ he said. ``I just wanted to help my team have a chance to win and I wanted to hit my foul shots.’’
Magic rookie Victor Oladipo, the second overall pick in the NBA Draft, followed up Sunday’s 18-point debut with some struggles with his jump shot. He made just two of 12 shots, missed all three of his 3-point shots and scored 12 points. But Oladipo did adjust his game, getting to the free throw line 10 times in the second half.
``We were taking a lot of bad shots out there and being the point guard I’ve got to know time and score. But like I’ve said, it’s definitely a learning process for me (playing point guard),’’ said Oladipo, who had five assists and three turnovers. ``I definitely take a lot of blame for it because I had the ball and was controlling the pace. I just have to pick my times of when I’m going to be aggressive and not aggressive. I’ll watch the film and learn from it.’’
Lamb learned from his short time with the Magic last season that he had to get stronger and in better shape if he was going to stick in the NBA. He played sparingly in 24 games after the trade to Orlando, averaging 3.2 points and 1.2 rebounds in 12.4 minutes a night.
He showed off some of his potential on April 16 against the Bucks – his former NBA team – when he scored 16 points and hit an impressive four of six 3-pointers. He made 10 of 21 3-pointers (48 percent), and the team was determined to get the most out of Lamb this summer so that he can get on the floor more next season because of his potentially lethal shooting ability.
``If he’s going to play for us, he’s going to have to make shots, and he can do that,’’ Borrego said. ``He’s comfortable taking that corner three and he’s comfortable taking big shots. And he’s comfortable playing off the ball, so when Victor penetrates he spots up. I liked him off the dribble today too.’’
Lamb said when he first came into the NBA last year he could only bench press 185 pounds once; now, he is doing sets of 10 or more after working all summer with Strength and Conditioning coach Joe Rogowski. He said the time he’s put in has made him better when drives to the rim or converts a jumper off a curl screen, as he did twice on Monday.
``It’s a big summer for me and I want to work on all parts of my game. I’m trying to get my body right and be ready for the season,’’ Lamb said of his workout regimen. ``I’m getting way stronger and my legs are getting stronger. Everything is getting better and I just have to keep working.’’
And he vows to keep working on that 3-point shot that has become his best weapon. In addition to hitting the weight room on off days and before workouts, he usually stays after practices until he’s made 200 3-pointers. It’s given him the confidence to take and make big shots for the Magic.
``If I’m open, I’m probably going to make the shot,’’ Lamb said with a laugh. ``I just have to concentrate on my release and find the gaps to get my shots from.’’
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