With games beginning today at the Thomas and Mack Center for the first time during Summer League play, the crowd at the Cox Pavilion is much thinner.
Those who left missed quite the show by Jerryd Bayless.
Portland’s rookie point guard had 28 points in 33 minutes, looking every bit as good as advertised in the Trail Blazers’ 78-73 win over the Washington Wizards.
One of a handful of rookie stars in Las Vegas — along with Memphis’ O.J. Mayo, Minnesota’s Kevin Love and New York’s Danilo Gallinari — Bayless wasn’t awed by the bigger competition, getting to the free-throw line 23 times.
Portland coach Nate McMillan was especially impressed as he caught Bayless in person for the first time.
“It’s great see him live; we didn’t watch a lot of film on him because we really didn’t think he would be there for us,” McMillan said. “Seeing him live, I love his aggressiveness. He just throws up his body — 23 free throws is huge.”
Bayless had a monster rebound and put-back with 25 seconds left in the game, drawing a tough foul as he gave the Blazers a 71-68 lead. McMillan said the experience Bayless draws in Las Vegas should pay dividends in a few months.
“The more they can play, the better,” McMillan said. “Training camp, summer league — the more they play and get a feel for the game, the better for the young guys. This is an opportunity for us to look at him and give him a feel for what we’ll be looking for.”
A few short weeks after trading for Bayless’ draft rights from Indiana — along with Ike Diogu for No. 13 pick Brandon Rush, Jarrett Jack and Josh McRoberts on the day of the draft — McMillan is still giddy.
“Our scouts and our GM were really excited,” he said. “There was no other guy that we were going to take. We felt like if we could get to No. 11, he was the guy. For him to fall, it was a great day for us, about as good as we could expect to get.
SAY THIS NAME FIVE TIMES FAST
Bayless’ running mate Petteri Koponen wasn’t half-bad, either.
Koponen was particularly effective in the fourth quarter, scoring 11 of his 19 points while hitting all three of his 3-pointers.
Bayless was succinct but complimentary of his NBA Summer League backcourt mate: “I know what he’s been doing, and I think we’re a pretty good combo.”
UNR’S Javale McGee also had a big fourth quarter in the matchup, scoring seven of his 11 points on 3-for-4 shooting.
McGee played 26 minutes, blocking three shots but committing six fouls.
WATCH YOUR STEP
Portland’s Bernard Robinson was jogging backward as time expired in the game, when he tripped over his own shoelace, collapsing to the ground.
Luckily, no one seemed to notice.