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That's A Wrap

July 12, 2013 3:24 pm EDT

Rockets' rally falls short, Oklahoma City prevails 85-77 in summer league title tilt

HOUSTON - With 80 percent of their original summer league starting lineup on their way back to, or already in Houston to get a head start on the weekend, the Rockets were under no delusions that the Oklahoma City Thunder were destined to have a distinct advantage in the first-ever Orlando Summer League championship game. True, the Thunder were sitting summer stud Reggie Jackson as well, but on paper the matchup edge still tilted heavily in OKC’s favor.

Of course, summer league titles aren’t exactly the endgame here. Winning is nice, but the name of the game in July is player development. And by Friday the Rockets had already seen exactly what they had hoped to see out of Patrick Beverley, Terrence Jones, Greg Smith and James Anderson.

So the torch passed to rookies like Robert Covington and B.J. Young for Friday’s title tilt, and after a sluggish start those two players rose to the occasion and made the most of their opportunity. In fact, they nearly rescued the Rockets from a 20-point fourth quarter hole, sparking a remarkable 19-2 run that put Houston in position to steal the game with less than two minutes remaining.

The Rockets ultimately fell short, as Oklahoma City held on for an 85-77 victory and those oh-so-coveted summer league championship hats. But both Covington (21 points, 5 rebounds, 4 steals) and Young (20 points) acquitted themselves quite nicely, providing plenty of reasons for the Rockets to keep track of their progress in the days, weeks and months ahead.

Friday’s loss means the Rockets head home with a 4-1 record for the week, bringing their overall mark to 33-7 in summer league play since 2005. And though Houston left Orlando as the runners-up, it did finish with the best point differential (+38) of the ten teams competing in central Florida.

The only true disappointment from the past week of action from a Rockets’ standpoint is the fact that rookie Isaiah Canaan was unable to play or practice due to a sprained right ankle. He did, however, make significant progress during his rehab while in Orlando, nearing a return to full strength that will allow him to get back on the court and resume training in short order.