Warriors face uphill climb to repeat as summer league champs


The Golden State Warriors may yet repeat as the Vegas Summer League champions. But the road is going to be a little tougher.

The Warriors, who won last year’s inaugural tournament and had racked up an amazing 16 straight summer league wins dating to 2010, lost in overtime 91-88 Monday to the Los Angeles Lakers. Not only did the loss end the streak, it also made Golden State 2-1 in the league, which means the Warriors will not receive a first-round bye when the playoffs begin today at the Thomas &Mack Center and Cox Pavilion.

Golden State, seeded No. 11 in the 24-team field, faces the No. 22 Atlanta Hawks at 3 p.m. today at Cox Pavilion. It is part of an eight-game schedule, with four games in both Cox and the T&M.

Chicago is the top seed, followed by New York, Washington and Cleveland. All went 3-0, and the Bulls, led by second-year guard Tony Snell and rookie forward Doug McDermott, have beaten their opponents by an average of 25.6 points. Snell, who starred at New Mexico, is averaging 20.7 points, and McDermott, a rookie from Creighton and the John R. Wooden Award winner as college basketball’s top player in 2014, is averaging 20.3 points.

The next highest average belongs to the Knicks, who have won their three games by an average of 12.3 points. The Wizards, who have the summer league’s leading scorer in Glen Rice Jr. at 22.7 points per game, have won their three games by an average of 8.3 points.

But the biggest surprise might be the Cavaliers. With a new coach in David Blatt, an untested top overall draft pick in Andrew Wiggins and a second-year question mark in Anthony Bennett, not much was expected from Cleveland.

But Wiggins has quickly proved his skill level. Bennett is in shape and playing like Cavaliers fans hoped he would a year ago, and second-year guard Matt Dellavedova has been strong playing point guard. The Cavaliers are 3-0, winning by an average of 7.6 points.

“I think a lot of it is I’m healthy and I’m comfortable playing here (at UNLV),” said Bennett, who is averaging 14.0 points. “This is my second home, and the fans here have always been great to me. But the big thing is now that I had my tonsils out, I can breathe much better, and I have a lot more energy. I can stay on the court longer and find my rhythm, and I think that’s why I’m doing better.”

The championship game will be at 6 p.m. Monday at the Thomas &Mack.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

 

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