Las Vegas Summer League: San Antonio Spurs 86, Utah Jazz 77

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LAS VEGAS—In this vacuum that is Las Vegas, the Summer League Spurs are looking very Spursy. They overcame a sluggish start to beat the Summer League Jazz, led by the dynamo backcourt (by summer league standards) of Dante Exum and Trey Burke, 86-77. In doing that, they advanced to the quarterfinals of the LVSL Tournament.

This Jazz incarnation featured Burke, Exum, 2014 first round pick Rodney Hood and 2013 first round pick Rudy Gobert. After the game, head coach Ime Udoka discussed the value of his squad facing teams with more players likely to be on NBA rosters this coming fall.

“It’s a big deal. I mean, that’s traditionally how it is a little bit, us having one late draft pick and a lot of these young teams have six or seven guys,” Udoka said. “We faced that in the first game with Sacramento, it’s good for them to get experience against other guys who are in the NBA.”

Specifically, Udoka was talking about guys like Kyle Anderson, who, along with Jeff Ayres and Austin Daye, are the only three Spurs slotted in to the regular season roster for this coming season. Anderson had a rough start to the game, picking up two fouls in the first 1:41 of the game. Although he was just one of many Spurs to struggle in the first half. San Antonio managed just 16 points in the opening quarter as the starting five tallied only four points. Deshaun Thomas’ efforts kept the Spurs in the game early. The second year Summer League vet spelled Anderson and went to work, scoring nine points on 4-of-5 shooting. Udoka praised Thomas’ ability to be the spark the Spurs need throughout summer league.

“We brought him off the bench a few games here and there, that’s what he did overseas this past year, and he has a knack for scoring so right when he comes in,” Udoka said.

The Spurs started the second half on a tear, opening with an 11-0 run. Then the pace slowed again, thanks in part to the abundance of foul calls. Utah climbed back in to the game, taking a 54-53 lead into the fourth quarter. The pace in the fourth quarter picked up and suddenly, a bad Summer League game started to look like an entertaining regular season game.

Remember during the playoffs when Kawhi Leonard would get in just the slightest bit of foul trouble, Pop would yank him early to make it to the finish line? Very similar thing happened with Anderson and it paid off. The rookie scored seven of his eight points in the fourth quarter thanks to a bevy of trickery. It’s that old man stuff that no 20-year-old should have which makes Anderson fun to watch. The small hesitation on the crossover, the pump fakes. All that’s there. Also there was a bit of the mixed bag Anderson is defensively. For the most part, he positions himself well enough to not get torched. But Rodney Hood got him a couple of times in the fourth quarter. After the game, Anderson did acknowledge his man defense is a work in progress but when you watch him you don’t think this guy’s a disaster. These are the little things you look for at summer league.

The fourth quarter was fun, back-and-forth and guys were actually making shots. The Spurs pulled away thanks to some very familiar sets. Darius Morris took a screen at the top of the key, had Anderson in one corner and Bryce Cotton in the other. Both were open and Morris chose Cotton, who sunk the 3-pointer to put the Spurs up five with under a minute to go.

They’ll next play Saturday night at 9 central time against the Washington Wizards. The game will be televised on NBA TV.

Other notes:

  • Austin Daye led all scorers with 20, but did so on 5-for-15 shooting. Essentially, if Daye’s shooting is on, he looks great. Otherwise, it’s a struggle.
  • I like Darius Morris and he’s a semi-reliable jump shot away from sticking with a team. He’s pretty good at using his strength as getting to the basket and has show the ability to find open teammates. However, opponents are able to sag off him so much that the all the other things he does well become irrelevant. He also did a great job guarding Dante Exum throughout the game.
  • Blofeld

    What are your thoughts on Ayres? Has he looked any better? I’m beginning to think his year 2 will be just as bad as his first. I mean, if he looks bad in summer league…yikes!

  • theghostofjh

    Quixem Ramirez: Kawhi’s (projected) max five-year extension: Year 1: $16.63 million Year 2: $17.87M Year 3: $19.12M Year 4: $20.37M Year 5: $21.61M Twitter @quixem – See more at: http://hoopshype.com/rumors.htm#sthash.nby5yJgq.dpuf

    Quixem Ramirez: Reminder: A league source is “very confident” Kawhi will sign an extension with the Spurs before the season, per @MaxSportsSA. Twitter @quixem – See more at: http://hoopshype.com/rumors.htm#sthash.nby5yJgq.dpuf

  • Trevor Zickgraf

    I don’t think Ayres has looked really good or really bad. I think he’s just working on things the team has asked him to work on. Screen setting, being vocal on defense, finishing at the rim and passing. So I wouldn’t say he’s impressed, but he’s been effective.

  • WSSNW

    He probably wouldn’t do the 5 year deal. Most players do the 3 year deal so they can get to the 7-9 year max on the next contract. It works out to about 3 million more per year.

  • theghostofjh

    Maybe, but Kawhi is unique.

  • Tyler

    A 3 year extension would also allow him to sign his next deal under the upcoming (and much larger) TV deal the league will get.