Jerryd Bayless didn’t play for the Blazers on
Sunday, but he still was named the top rookie — the equivalent of Most
Valuable Player — for the NBA Summer League after leading it with 29.8
points per game. Bayless, who was named to the USA Select Team, also
averaged 4.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.2 steals per game.
NEXT COMING OF WALTON — Forget about Bill Walton, the legendary Portland
center who led the Trail Blazers to the 1977 NBA championship. There’s a
new bearded big man battling it out for a spot on the Blazers.
His name is Steven Hill and he’s a 7-foot, 245-pound rookie center from
Arkansas who accumulated a cult following in the NBA Summer League.
Boosted by a boisterous bunch of Blazers fans — one of whom held an orange
sign Sunday reading “Hill Yeahhh” — Hill sank 3 of 4 shots from the field
and went 2-for-2 from the line for eight points to all but carry Portland
to a 78-63 win over the New Orleans Hornets on Sunday at Cox Pavilion.
Hill also blocked four shots, grabbed three rebounds, came up with a steal
and had the crowd chanting his name in the final seconds, “Hill! Hill!
Hill, who hails from Branson, Mo., and played four seasons as a backup at
Arkansas — where he averaged 4.2 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocked shots
per game last year — graciously gave a fan his sweat-soaked jersey as he
walked off the court.
Blazers assistant coach Maurice Lucas played alongside Walton on the 1977
title team and said Hill reminded him of his former teammate.
“He looked just like Bill Walton. What can I say?” Lucas said, laughing,
before turning serious. “Maybe not exactly like Bill Walton, but he did
some good things for us. He clogged the hole up, he had great position on
defense, he blocked some nice shots and he was rewarded for it. He also
accumulated a pretty nice fan base this whole week.
“He came in fresh and raw and the fans took to him, from a couple guys
cheering for him to a whole section cheering for him.”
Hill said he wasn’t sure where the warm reception came from.
“Honestly I have no idea,” he said. “Sometimes people get a kick out of the
beard or whatever. They were having fun with it and it’s always fun for
Hill said he’s been compared to Walton before.
“I’ve always kind of rocked the beard and all that, but I don’t think I’ll
ever be as good a player as he was, obviously,” the good-natured Hill said.
So does he have a shot at making the Blazers?
“Probably not our team,” Lucas said. “But he certainly improved his
position as far as making somebody else’s team. He played very well this
week. He surprised us all.”
Hill said he was pleased with his performance here.
“I started off slow and went up and up from the beginning to the end,” he
said. “I’m pretty happy with myself. The goal is to get into an NBA camp
and definitely try to make the team. Hopefully I made a good enough case
PINNOCK PACES BLAZERS — J.R. Pinnock, a rookie from George Washington,
scored a game-high 30 points on 11-for-19 shooting, including 4-for-5 from
3-point range, to lead Portland to a 78-63 victory over New Orleans in the
final NBA Summer League game at Cox Pavilion on Sunday.
The Blazers trailed the Hornets 36-34 at halftime, but outscored them 44-27
in the second half.
SUNS FINISH STRONG — Phoenix trailed Washington 38-36 at halftime and 63-58
after three quarters, but the Suns steamrolled the Wizards down the
stretch, outscoring them 30-6 in the fourth quarter en route to an 88-69
victory in the second of three games at Cox Pavilion.
BALANCED BUCKS BURY BECK’S CAVS — Six players scored in double figures for
Milwaukee (4-1) in its 88-72 win over winless Cleveland (0-5) in the
opening game of a Sunday doubleheader at the Thomas & Mack Center.
J.J. Hickson scored 24 points to lead the Cavaliers and former UNLV gunner
Romel Beck added 14 points on 6-for-13 shooting. He was 1-for-2 from