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Clippers Fall to Rockets 104-90 Despite Gilgeous-Alexander’s Excellence

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The Clippers were outscored by a massive margin from deep, but were led by a phenomenal performance by rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

2018 NBA Summer League - Las Vegas - Los Angeles Clippers v Golden State Warriors Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Summary:

Houston got off to an early lead in this one, and never looked back. While the Clippers fought hard all game, and made several pushes to close the gap, their inability to hit threes or keep the Rockets from hitting theirs made a win impossible. Overall, the Clippers were outscored by 30 points from deep— it’s impossible to win games with that massive a gap. The nail in the coffin was a torrid 22-3 stretch by the Rockets from the late 3rd to the early 4th quarters with the Clippers’ starters on the bench, replete with Clippers’ bricks and turnovers. Still, there were bright spots to be found, most notably the play of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who dazzled after a slow start.

Notes:

Superb Shai: Shai got off to a rough start, as he took several poor, low-quality shots in traffic without much chance of success. He came back sharper than ever, however, and put on a clinic for the rest of the game. He moved past every Rockets’ defender on the perimeter with ease, and snuck in layup after layup with crafty finishes around the rim. Shai demonstrated a nice pullup jumper on several occasions, and even busted out a turnaround jumper in the post that looked very smooth (although it missed). He was calm as always running point, getting the Clippers into their sets, and rarely looking out of control. On defense, he was a pest, using his quick feet and long arms to get steals and disrupt passes. But really, that quickness getting to the hoop and his finishing ability once he got there were simply outstanding. Shai has gotten better each game, and looks like one of the best players in this rookie class.

Vivacious Vince: The Clippers don’t have room for Vince Hunter on their regular season roster (barring massive shakeups), but another team should absolutely find room for him in their training camp, maybe even as a two-way signing. He’s athletic, brings a ton of energy, and plays super hard. In just 20 minutes, Vince scored 20 points on 7-8 shooting and collected 8 rebounds. He’s not super skilled, but he can finish inside and has some semblance of handles to take slower players off the drive. As an energy big man off the bench, an NBA team could do a lot worse.

Jumpshot Jerome: Jerome Robinson made a bit more of an impact in this one, scoring 14 points on 6-13 shooting. He made the Clippers’ only two threes, and his form is good enough that his shots look like they’re going in almost every time he takes one. The Clippers continue to use him mostly off-ball, though this could be due to Shai’s excellence and their desire to see him run the offense. Jerome also grabbed a handful of boards and made a couple defensive plays, demonstrating some non-scoring value. He’s been quiet so far, but he’s played well overall.

Thumping Thornwell: Sindarius Thornwell had his worst game of this Summer League, shooting just 3-13 from the field, and forcing the issue on too many occasions. His shot was noticeably off tonight, and he started hesitating late in the game due to lack of confidence. Still, Sindarius brought his usual energy, defense, and aggressive drives to the hoop, and one off-night is perfectly excusable.

Missing Michineau: After playing well in Game 2, David Michineau was less impressive tonight, shooting poorly from the field and failing to demonstrate an ability to run the offense with Shai on the bench. His defense is good due to his size and athleticism, but he really needs to make strides as a passer or shooter if he’s going to make the jump to the NBA.