In a sluggish, whistle-filled game, the Pacers Summer League squad lost to the Hornets 80-70. Glenn Robinson III and Shayne Whittington were the only double-digit scorers for the Pacers as the team seemed to struggle offensively against a more physical opponent than yesterday’s game. The first half was hard to watch as it was dominated by officiating. You know it’s a bad sign in the Summer League when the refs are a topic of conversation for the broadcast team. If you missed the analysis and highlights from Game 1, they are here. Much more positive notes to take from that game than this one.
Joe Young: 6 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block, 0 turnovers in 22 minutes. (2 of 6 from field, 0 of 2 from 3-point range)
Young really didn’t look like himself out there today and may still be feeling the effects of that hard fall on his poster dunk from yesterday’s game. Young played only 22 minutes and took only six shots on offense. His grade would be lower if it weren’t for his great job of taking care of the basketball: 0 turnovers. This was a huge improvement from yesterday’s game when he had 5 giveaways. Though this could partially be to a lack of aggressiveness in this game, it’s still a good sign for improvement in this area. Young’s defense wasn’t great as Gabe York of the Hornets lost Young and got wide open looks multiple times, including one point late in the game where York hit a three to seal the victory for the Hornets. Hopefully with a day of rest coming, Young will be back to full strength and full bucket-getting capacity when the Pacers play their next game on Tuesday. Without his scoring, these Summer League games can get a little hard to watch at times. Nate Taylor reports that Popeye Jones says Young has a bruised tailbone and is unsure of Young’s availability to play on Tuesday.
Georges Niang: 6 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 4 turnovers, 7 fouls (3 of 6 from the field)
Niang still looks like a guy that the Pacers will be anxious to sign to a contract, but his grade suffers today partly because of how tremendous he was the day before. He showed another real nice post move when he spun under the basket to beat his man for a nice reverse layup and his cutting ability is tremendous (as seen below). He disappeared offensively for a long stretch as the ball never seemed to come his way, but it was an alright performance with limited opportunities. The turnovers were bad from a rookie that prides himself on not trying to do too much. The first came when he tried to drive but was stripped by a help defender due to bad spacing on the play. Niang needed to move the ball or wait for the offense to get more spread out before taking that path. Another came right after he grabbed a steal and began pushing the ball on the break, but he dribbled in about a step too far as DeShaun Thomas ripped it right away before Niang could pass it off. His last turnover came after he got caught in the air and had to force a bad pass. That being said, his general quick decision making and decisiveness are very impressive for a rookie.
Defensively, Niang struggled to defend without fouling like many of the Pacers today. He had 7 fouls (takes 10 foul out in summer league) including a few on DeShaun Thomas post ups that bailed the Hornets out in shot clock situations. At other times, you could see Niang knows where he needs to be, but that he’s a step slow in getting there. It was a challenge at times for him to get back to Thomas in time after hedging on a screen. Even after a game in which he struggled, coaches and players both continue to praise Niang’s basketball IQ and natural instincts.
“He’s a smart player. His basketball IQ is really high,” said Robinson about Niang. “We think alike and connected on those back cuts. I like playing with him.”
Popeye Jones praised his basketball IQ as well as his natural instincts on the court saying that he does things that they don’t have to teach him.
Glenn Robinson III: 16 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers (7 of 15 from the floor, 1 of 6 from 3-point range)
GR3 was the only Pacer to play just as well today as the day before, scoring 16 points again and leading the team in that category. He struggled with his 3-point shot, but made 6 of 9 shots from inside the arc and made a couple more dunks to add to his Summer League highlight reel. His best play was probably his dime pass to a cutting Niang (above). Popeye Jones, whose coaching the team in Summer League, praised his aggressiveness in the first two games. Robinson was one of the few Pacers that never seemed to be overwhelmed at times with the additional defensive pressure in this game compared to the last one. A good sign for a player looking to break into the rotation. He matched up with Aaron Harrison on the defensive end and did a great job on him in the first half as he only made 1 of 8 attempts. Harrison got hot in the third quarter for a stretch but his final line of 15 points on 6 for 16 shooting is something you can live with giving up. It was good to see Robinson play solid defense against a player with at least a little NBA experience.
Rakeem Christmas: 4 points, 4 rebounds, 3 turnovers, 6 fouls (1 for 3 from field)
Christmas only played 17 minutes because of Whittington’s play and aggressiveness according to Jones. One of the most puzzling things about Christmas is his ability to see a great passing opportunity and a desire to make that pass, but an inability to complete those passes or see that he can’t complete those passes like a point guard. This was the second consecutive game where Christmas seemed to try a little too hard to make a spectacular pass a few times that led to turnovers. While Christmas made his mid-range shots yesterday, his attempts from that distance did not go in today. It wasn’t a great showing for Rakeem; hopefully he has a bounce back game on Tuesday.
“We’re trying to get Rakeem to play aggressive,” said Jones, “run the court, roll more to the basket. He seems like he’s in love with his jump shot a little bit.”
Shayne Whittington: 12 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block (2 of 6 from the floor, 8 of 12 from the foul line)
Whittington looked all out of sorts early on in the game and seemed to struggle with the physicality. He was set up numerous times by teammates down low and got to the foul line repeatedly, but it would have been good to see him make a few of those shots through the weak contact. He also made only 67% of those foul shots. He did a much better job rebounding the ball compared to the game yesterday (from 1 to 7). Whittington made a real nice block at the rim to stuff out a dunk, but was called for a foul on the play (the refs were very quick to blow the whistle all game). One of his steals was a really nice effort to get his hand in the play after biting on a pump fake.
Nate Wolters once again played well with 9 points, 5 rebounds, and an assist with only one turnover. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him invited to Pacers training camp this year. Scotty Hopson was a team high +8 and scored 5 points with 3 assists and 3 rebounds.
The Pacers don’t play again until Tuesday at 5 p.m. against the Pistons. It’ll be a good challenge for GR3 as he’ll face off against young Pistons stud Stanley Johnson. Jones said the team will not practice tomorrow and will have the day off after they looked like they didn’t have their legs today.
Full Highlights not yet available. Game 1 Highlights and Recap Here.