The Clippers played well throughout the game, but trailed for the bulk of the first three quarters because of the Bucks’ hot shooting from outside. The Clippers, by contrast, were ice cold from three, and struggled to make up the difference in other areas. They were also set back by an injury to David Michineau, who got off to a good start in the 1st half, but was forced to leave with a hamstring injury.
The fourth quarter, however, was a different story. The Clippers ran out a lineup of Jawun Evans- Sindarius Thornwell- Hollis Thompson- Jamil Wilson- Montrezl Harrell (who joined the team for the first time after the Chris Paul trade) to start the quarter, and it was so effective that they played the entire period. The Bucks didn’t score until halfway through the quarter, by which point they were down a handful of points. The Clippers were able to garner a double digit lead briefly before the Bucks came back. The Clips held on due to a couple clutch baskets and stops, and remain undefeated in Vegas.
Here are some notes on the standout players:
- Montrezl Harrell dominated throughout, shutting down Bucks’ center DJ Wilson after he got out to a hot start, and getting to the rim time and again. He is quick to attack off the dribble, and has nice touch around the basket. He even threw in a tough fadeaway jumper over Wilson (who is 6’11’’) for good measure. While Harrell didn’t grab many rebounds, he did just about everything else on the court. A 3rd year player who was in the rotation for the Rockets last season, Harrell might not see much more time in the Summer League. He really has nothing to prove here.
- Brice Johnson was very quiet tonight after a couple big games. Harrell’s arrival probably had much to do with that, as he sucked up Brice’s room in the paint and touches. He still played ok, getting the line 6 times and making a few nice plays on defense, but was out of the rotation down the stretch.
- On the other hand, Sindarius Thornwell bounced back in a big way after a down Game 2. He scored 18 points, and finally made a couple threes (he was 2-6 from there on the evening). More importantly, he was in attack mode all night, going straight at the rim and finishing or drawing fouls. His shooting and handles remain question marks, but Thornwell has a better first step than advertised, and he even flashed a solid spin move. Sindarius, as expected, also played strong defense, and had a brilliant steal for an easy fastbreak layup.
- Jawun Evans got the start today (Kendall Marshall had the night off) and played incredibly. He ran the team well for a rookie point guard, and made sure the offense got into sets on a consistent basis. He showed real promise as a passer in the pick and roll, making several beautiful pocket passes for easy dunks. In addition, he carried the team towards the end of the game, hitting a difficult floater and layup in the late 4th quarter when the Bucks were making their push. Evans also pressured Bucks’ point guard Travis Trice, who shot a poor 2-11 and couldn’t get into a rhythm at all. Fantastic showing.
- Jamil Wilson is officially a Summer League favorite. One night after a near perfect shooting night against the Jazz, Wilson replicated the feat, shooting 8-10 from the field and 2-4 from three. Far more impressively, he pulled down 8 rebounds and dished out 8 assists, accumulating a near-triple double from the power forward position. He made a great turnaround jumper from midrange, slammed home offensive rebounds and lobs, and worked his tail off to get open from distance. Simply put, he looks like an NBA player. It might be fool’s gold, especially the shooting, but Wilson has been a revelation with his overall play. He even defended point guards competently out on the perimeter after switches. I would be shocked if he doesn’t have a training camp spot locked up already, though if he keeps this up some other team might sign him outright.
- It’s really too bad David Michineau had to leave with an injury, as he had by far his best Summer League showing tonight. He hit his only two shots (one of them being a very tough floater), played very good defense on the perimeter, and made a couple sweet passes. It was only 5 minutes of play, and it was against a Summer League 2nd unit, but Michineau looked like a real player tonight. Hopefully he heals up quickly so that the Clippers can get a further look at him this summer.
- The only two other players who got extended minutes were Hollis Thompson and James Bell. Thompson was part of that 4th quarter lineup, and generally blended in well as a “3 and D” wing, bouncing back from his poor effort in Game 1. He had several aggressive drives to the basket, and pulled down some contested rebounds as well. Bell started, and didn’t stand out, but made a couple shots and played solid defense.
- Six other players played, but all received limited minutes, and none made a huge impression while in (for good or bad).
The Clippers are now off until Thursday, as they have clinched a top 8 seed in the Summer League tournament. This should hopefully allow Michineau time to recover as well as provide a break for college players who have never done back to backs (at such a high level, anyway) before.
Overall, the Clippers’ Summer League team has played extremely well. Sam Cassell and the rest of the coaching staff have done a fantastic job getting them to play together on both ends of the court, and they are one of the most cohesive and organized summer league teams I think I’ve ever seen. The “big name” players have stood out positively, a couple gems may have been found, and the team as a whole looks like they are having fun and competing hard.
It doesn’t really mean that much in the grand scheme of things, but this team could legitimately win the Summer League tournament. Players have acknowledged in the past that it is a real goal and accomplishment for them, and this team almost certainly feels the same way. They are tough, play with fire, and are incredibly enjoyable to watch. Go Summer League Clippers!