Baldwin IV Throws Down, Gets Thrown Out In Portland's Summer League Victory Versus Utah
LAS VEGAS -- The Portland Trail Blazers’ 2018 Summer League team entered their first game in Las Vegas hoping to return to the championship game for the second time in as many summer leagues.
One game in, they look like they’ve got a shot at it.
Led by 20 points from Wade Baldwin IV, the Trail Blazers defeated the Utah Jazz, a team that had already played three summer league games going into Saturday’s contest, 93-78 in front of a sold-out crowd at COX Pavilion on the campus of UNLV.
“I just liked our pace, just the demeanor all of us played with,” said Baldwin IV. “We caught a spurt where we did a lot of good screening, a lot of good energy. That’s what I’m trying to bring for this team, for the Blazers and you can count on me for that.”
Portland is now 1-0 in 2018 Las Vegas Summer League play.
The Trail Blazers controlled the action for most of Saturday afternoon’s game, leading by as many as 13 in the first quarter. The Jazz bounced back in the second quarter by outscoring the Trail Blazers 21-14 to cut Portland’s lead to 40-37 by the halftime intermission.
But it would be all Portland in the second half, as they would go on to outscore Utah 54-41 in the third and fourth quarters combined. And not only did the Trail Blazers pull away in the fourth, they did so while unleashing a string of highlight dunks courtesy of Baldwin IV, Jake Layman and rookie Anfernee Simons, sending the crowd of Trail Blazers fans at COX Pavilion into a frenzy.
“We have one of our guys here telling me I don’t have any bounce, I don’t show it,” said Baldwin IV, who finished a baseline poster dunk over Jazz center Tony Bradley. “I’ve been working on explosion, working with the guys in the weight room. Just understanding feel and angle and I used it to my advantage that time.”
Baldwin finished +22 in 26 minutes Saturday afternoon, adding five assists and three rebounds to his 22 point effort before being ejected in the fourth quarter after committing a “hostile act” towards Utah rookie Grayson Allen.
Many dunks. Amazing bench reactions. Victory in Game 1 pic.twitter.com/HWOYCsF7RV
— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) July 7, 2018
“Too hot competitors wanting to play at a high level, got tangled up,” said Baldwin IV of the confrontation. “He’s notoriously known for trying to trip guys, trying to throw elbows and there was little things throughout the game, little pushes and stuff. Got tangled up and we reacted.”
While Baldwin IV was Portland’s best player on the court Saturday afternoon, he was joined by multiple players in having quality performances. Layman struggled from the field, going just 5-of-12 from the field, but still finished with 14 points to go with six assists, a steal and a block in 29 minutes. Zach Collins, playing with a mask due to having his nose broken on the first day of summer league training camp, hit just two of his 12 shots from the field, but blocked three shots and finished a +18 in just under 29 minutes. Caleb Swanigan, who earned first-team honors at the 2017 Summer League, put up a double-double of 11 points and 13 rebounds while also handing out a game-high five assists.
But it wasn’t just Portland’s summer league vets who showed, as rookies Anfernee Simons and Gary Trent Jr. both turned in solid performances in their first games as professionals.
Trent Jr., who Portland acquired on draft night from Sacramento after he played one season at Duke, went a perfect 9-of-9 from the free throw line and 3-of-7 from the field for 16 points to go with three rebounds, an assist and a steal in just under 18 minutes.
“I feel like I did pretty well,” said Trent Jr. “Being a rookie, everybody is out there trying to push you, go at you and everybody knows who is who. So really just got to go out there, continue to play hard, continue to play my game and just showcase what I can do. And be a great teammate.”
As for Simons, selected with the 24th overall pick of the 2018 Draft, he went 4-of-6 from the field and 1-of-3 from three for 11 points and a rebounds in just under 18 minutes. Having prepped at IMG Academy rather than playing college ball last season, there was an assumption that the slender 19 year-old guard might get pushed around, though he looked more than up to the task in his first NBA action.
“It’s funny, he was checking into the game for the first time, I’m looking down like, this kid is 19 years old, right out of high school, about to play in the NBA, it’s got to be a cool feeling” said Jim Moran, who is handling summer league head coaching duties for the second straight year. “And I said it to him, he smiled, I smiled. The expectation is we just want him to just kind of get his feet wet and develop habits. For a guy like him it’s about habits. So we’re going to be on him about playing hard, working hard, hard cuts. It’s just the little things right now for him, that’s all we really expect.”
Next up, the Trail Blazers will play the second game of their summer league schedule Sunday afternoon versus the Atlanta Hawks at Thomas & Mack Center on the campus on UNLV. Tipoff is schedule for 2:30 p.m. on ESPN2.