OPSL: Sixers 92, Rockets 71
ORLANDO –– Four days in, the Orlando Pro Summer League is in full swing, and the quality of play has gotten better as the tournament has gone on. Teammates are becoming more and more comfortable with one another, and coaches are getting a better sense of what their young players can do.
Tuesday night, the Sixers notched an impressive 92-71 victory over the Houston Rockets on Day Four of OPSL play. The team shot 49.2% from the floor (52.6% from beyond the arc) and held the Rockets to 34.4% shooting (22.2% from deep).
“I’m just getting a better feel of the game,” said rookie forward K.J. McDaniels, who finished the game with 15 points (4/8 FG) and five rebounds. “Just being in the right place at the right time, I feel like I’m getting more comfortable. Shooting the ball, I’m a little more confident, and just knowing when to attack.”
Another rookie who’s beginning to find his way is Jerami Grant. The 20-year-old forward scored just four combined points in the Sixers’ first two games, going 1-for-5 from the floor. Against the Rockets, he broke out of his slump, notching 12 points on 4-of-9 from the floor and grabbing five rebounds in 20 minutes of action.
“The first two games, I was kind of still getting adjusted,” said Grant. “I feel like, in this game, I felt a lot more comfortable, and I was able to do the things I normally do.”
After being held out of Sunday’s win over the Thunder as a precautionary measure, center Nerlens Noel made his second appearance of the week. The 2013 sixth-overall pick logged 24 minutes and contributed eight points, six rebounds, three blocks, and two steals in the victory.
“He was great,” said Sixers assistant coach Lloyd Pierce, who’s serving as the team’s head coach in Orlando. “He was very much active around the rim, coming over as a weakside shot-blocker. I just thought his activity level was very impressive tonight.
“Each game, we’re going to see something new, something more, and see his confidence start to grow.”
The Sixers’ next game is Wednesday at 5pm (EST) against the Brooklyn Nets. You can watch NBA TV and via Summer League Live on NBA.com.
K.J. McDaniels: The Clemson alum followed up two strong performances earlier in the week with perhaps his best outing yet. McDaniels finished with 15 points on 4-of-8 shooting, knocking down two threes on as many attempts and locking down his man on the perimeter. Through three games, the 2014 ACC Defensive Player of the Year leads Philadelphia in +/- (+34 in 61 total minutes).
Ronald Roberts, Jr.: The 22-year-old forward has been a pleasant surprise for Sixers fans so far, starting all three of Philadelphia’s OPSL games thus far after going undrafted out of St. Joe’s. He’s been active on the offensive glass, using his quickness to get into position and his impressive leaping ability (33.5-inch standing vertical) to effortlessly pluck balls out of the air; he’s averaging 6.7 offensive rebounds per 36 minutes. On Tuesday, he finished with nine points (4/7 FG), four rebounds, two assists, two steals, and a block in 19 minutes.
JaKarr Sampson: The wiry forward out of St. John’s put together his best game this week on Tuesday, making an impact on both ends of the floor. He filled the stat sheet with 13 points (5/5 FG), eight rebounds, two assists, three steals, and two blocks.
Nerlens Noel: Although Noel was less active on the offensive end on Tuesday than in his 19-point debut on Saturday, his defensive impact was a major factor in the Sixers holding Houston to just 34.4% shooting. When the redshirt rookie was on the floor, the Rockets largely avoided taking the ball inside; when they did, Noel made them pay. He blocked three shots and forced a pair of steals in 24 minutes of action to go along with eight points (3/6 FG) and six rebounds.