LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 14: Keon Johnson #6 of the Portland Trail Blazers drives to the basket during the game against the Houston Rockets during the 2022 Las Vegas Summer League on July 14, 2022 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)

Summer League Championship Hopes Still Alive With Win Versus Rockets

And now, we wait.

The Trail Blazers kept their hopes of playing for the 2022 Las Vegas Summer League championship alive with an 85-77 victory versus the Houston Rockets Thursday night at Thomas & Mack Arena on the campus on UNLV.

Portland is now 3-1 in Las Vegas Summer League play. They will finish up their run in Las Vegas on Sunday, though the time of their game and what they might be playing for is still to be determined.

The Blazers, as they’ve been want to do during their time in Las Vegas, went down by double-digits -- 14 to be exact -- by the end of the first quarter. But Portland scored the first 12 points of the second quarter to get back into the game, and would end up going into the half trailing 41-36.

Portland started the second half on an 11-2 run to take command of the game, eventually outscoring Houston by 14 in the third quarter to take a 63-54 lead into the fourth. The Blazers held the lead the rest of the way, securing the victory while also adding eight points to their point differential.

Why does that matter? Because the top two teams in the standings will face off on Sunday for the Las Vegas Summer League championship. And in a multi-team tie -- there are already at least three teams tied at 3-1 with seven games yet to be played on Friday -- the tiebreaker comes down to point differential, meaning that not only did the Blazers need to win Thursday night to keep their championship hopes alive, they also needed to do so in convincing fashion.

As of the end of games Thursday night, the Trail Blazers sit in a five-way tie for first with a 3-1 record. But with a +8.3 point differential, Portland sits in second behind only the Knicks, who have a 3-1 record and a Summer League best +11.3 point differential.

However, there are seven teams -- the Pelicans, Suns, Pacers, Raptors, Thunder and Nuggets -- with a 2-1 record that still have a game to play on Friday. So the Trail Blazers will have to wait until the completion of Friday’s game -- particularly the finale between the Lakers and Pelicans, a team currently with a +9.7 point differential -- before they know if they’ll be playing for the championship or bragging rights.

Keon Johnson led all scorers with 25 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field and four rebounds. Luka Garza and Greg Brown III each finished with nine points, with the former grabbing six rebounds and the latter six while also blocking three shots.

Jabari Walker also contributed 9 points on 3-of-6 shooting to go with nine rebounds, two assists -- including a no-look, behind-the-head pass for a dunk that will surely make the Las Vegas Summer League highlight package -- and a block in 25 minutes.

Jabari Smith Jr. led the Rockets with 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting, 10 rebounds, two assists and a block in 28 minutes.