I have a confession to make. When the Clippers lost a close game to the Mavericks on Wednesday night, I was secretly (OK, not even all that secretly) pleased. It's Summer League, and the next game in the tournament was going to be the late game on Thursday, and I didn't want to be at Thomas and Mack until 10 PM two nights in a row. As I was leaving the arena with several other bloggers, I expressed my pleasure at the Clippers not playing Thursday night, at which point Seth Rosenthal from Posting and Toasting reminded me that the Clippers would play the Knicks Friday afternoon. "Oh, crap" I said. "There's a loser's bracket?"
Yes, citizens, there is a loser's bracket. Really, it's just one day of consolation games so that all the teams here have a similar number of games. The Clippers and the Knicks play at 1 PM in a game that will be televised on NBA-TV and Prime Ticket. It is the final summer league game for both teams.
For the Clippers, the loss to Dallas was one of their best offensive performances. They shot almost 49 percent from the field and were led by Reggie Bullock, who scored 20 on 8-15 shooting on a variety of shots. Unfortunately, they 21 Clipper turnovers and eight Dallas threes were enough to put the Mavericks over the top.
Today's opponent, the Knicks, lost by 47 to the Heat on Wednesday, in a game that was not as close as the final score would indicate. The Knicks came to Vegas with a mediocre team -- and then lost their first round draft pick Tim Hardaway, Jr. to a minor injury and Iman Shumpert to "I'm Iman Shumpert, I didn't have to come here at all". They're left with a bunch of guys you've never heard of who have no chance to make the team, with the exception of former Warrior Jeremy Tyler (who you may recall as the San Diego youngster who played professionally in Europe after his junior year in High School).
I'm leaving Vegas today before the start of the game, which will deprive me of the opportunity to watch Seth R. shake his head and mutter each time Bullock makes a good play. He wanted the Knicks to draft Bullock, and is more and more convinced that he was correct when he watches Bullock play.
There's no denying that the Bullock's play here has been encouraging. He appears to be exactly what we had hoped he would be -- and probably a better overall scorer than we thought. He has a very high basketball IQ, he can make plays, he positions himself well defensively and seems to care on that end as well. He does need work on his handle, which we knew, but overall he looks as ready to contribute as any rookie playing here. He's averaging 17 points per game on 43 percent shooting, which is pretty darn good for summer league.
Beyond Bullock, there's not a lot of great news for the Clippers. Jerome Randle has probably been the biggest surprise, but it's a surprise at the level of "Can he push Maalik Wayns for the third PG spot if the Clippers don't sign someone better for the vet's min?" It's not as if he's going to help the Clippers much during the regular season. Samardo Samuels looked good in the first couple of games, but has cooled off since, and doesn't seem like the kind of guy you want to be your 14th man. DaJuan Summers has looked pretty good, but he's stuck at a position where the team is deep.
With the addition of Byron Mullens, the Clippers have 12 players under contract, meaning there are probably only two spots available. Those will almost certainly go to a point guard and a "big" (though I use the term loosely, as they could add a biggish three for small ball lineups). Whether there's anyone on this team who can take one of those spots (Bullock is of course already on the team) remains to be seen.