Summer League Diary Day Six: Rockets vs. Bulls
Live-blogging the Rockets' Summer League finale against the Chicago Bulls
LAS VEGAS - Hard to believe, but this is it. After an absolute whirlwind of a week -- don’t even ask me what the last 24 hours have been like -- but the Rockets are wrapping up their five-game summer league extravaganza with a showdown against the Chicago Bulls.
By all accounts, Vegas has been very kind to Houston, with such a significant portion of the team’s young talent truly rising to the occasion to showcase their considerable skills. To wit:
Jeremy Lamb comes into today’s contest averaging a team-high 21 points per game, while shooting 50 percent from the field.
Donatas Motiejunas is averaging 16.3 points and 7.8 boards per game. He’s hit more than 62 percent of his shots from the field. And about his per game averages: they’ve been accrued while playing just 25 minutes per game.
Terrence Jones is averaging 18.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, while shooting nearly 54 percent from the field. He, too, has accomplished all that while playing limited minutes (he’s played less than 25 minutes per contest).
And last but not least, after a slow start Royce White has bounced back over the course of the past two games, stuffing the stat sheet to the tune of 8.5 points, 11 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game.
Tough to ask for much more from the Rockets’ four high profile rookies.
One other note before we get going: Diamon Simpson is starting today in place of Motiejunas who is out for precautionary reasons due to a slightly sprained ankle.
With D-Mo out, Jones is taking advantage of the increased opportunities and doing his best bull in a china shop routine against the, umm, Bulls. He’s simply too powerful for 99.9 percent of the players here and his ability to put the ball on the floor and attack from the perimeter on occasion has made him one of the most prolific inside-out performers in Vegas. Made this analogy the other day with regard to Jeremy Lamb, but it’s just as true for Houston’s other three first year pros: it’s time to take the settings off rookie for these guys and see what they can do when stepping up in class. 10 points and 2 boards in just 6 minutes of action for the former Wildcat so far.
Speaking of Lamb, he put up his standard 11 points in the opening frame to go along with 4 rebounds, capping it off with an incredible and-1 banked-in bucket from the wing to beat the buzzer. If he’s not on the All-Summer League first team when all is said and done then something is very, very wrong.
End of first quarter: Rockets 30 – Bulls 21
Royce White is on triple-double alert in the early stages of the second quarter once again, only this time one of the categories in which he’s threatening double digits is personal fouls. The former Cyclone has already amassed six fouls (players are allowed pen before ejection during summer league) in just 12 minutes, putting him on the bench with four points and four boards.
Pretty poor quarter overall for nearly the entire Rockets team actually. Terrence Jones continued his strong work on offense (16 points, 5 rebounds), but Houston lost the plot a bit, conceding too many easy buckets defensively which too often forced the Rockets to operate out of the half court (never a strong suit for any summer league team for obvious reasons). Still, some solid scoring punch from Scott Machado (11 points) late helped Houston take a 52-49 lead into the break.
Halftime: Rockets 52 – Bulls 49
Vastly improved defense from the Rockets this quarter and – surprise, surprise – Houston’s transition game has been resuscitated, as has the Rockets’ lead.
It’s been fun to watch Scott Machado grow on a game-by-game basis this past week. Like White, he started slowly – understandable given how difficult this transition especially is for rookie point guards who have to learn all new teammates and a system within a matter of days and then run the show. Today the Iona product is getting it done as a scorer (16 points through three), and that’s not typically his strong suit.
Make sure you check the website for highlights later this evening. Keep an eye out for Royce White’s ridiculous crossover of Jamie Skeen for a sick slam in transition.
End of third quarter: Rockets 77 – Bulls 68
No question who today’s star was for Houston. Scott Machado really took over in the second half to make sure the Rockets’ summer league reign of terror continued (Rockets are now 24-5 in Vegas summer league play all-time). On back-to-back possessions late in the fourth, he found Josh “Jorts” Harrelson for buckets on the break with a pair of no-look passes. 20 points and 6 dimes for Machado today. Really came on strong over the final three games.
Final: Rockets 96 – Bulls 88
Notable numbers: Scott Machado 20 points, 6 assists; Terrence Jones 17 points, 9 rebounds; Royce White 15 points, 10 rebounds; Jeremy Lamb 16 points, 8 rebounds