In Houston's first game of the NBA summer league they lost 83-78 to the Atlanta Hawks. Houston started off hot and had the lead for much of the game before going cold as the Hawks picked up the defensive pressure.
The Rockets starting lineup consisted of former Beaver Gary Payton II alongside: Michael Beasley, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell and K.J. McDaniels. Every player in Houston's starting lineup, besides Payton, has considerable NBA experience. Highlighted by Michael Beasley's 474 NBA games played.
Starting alongside some accomplished and talented players Payton acquitted himself nicely. He looked comfortable and confident running the point and managed to set up his teammates for a number of open looks. His first quarter was highlighted by a beautiful alley-oop pass to Beasley on a fast break.
In 22 minutes of action Gary Payton II finished with 3 points on only two shots as well as 6 rebounds, 5 assists and a steal.
Isaiah Taylor (Payton's top competition) backed him up at the point guard spot and led the second unit. Taylor, the Texas product, didn't show quite as well registering a stat-line of 0 points, 2 assists and 1 steal while playing 20 minutes. Isaiah Taylor did take care of the basketball though and did not register a turnover (Payton had three).
Payton was praised for his defensive tenacity by the announcers and hounded Atlanta's point guards most of the game. He pressed his man the length of the court, denied in-bounds passes and generally disrupted Atlanta's offense. His defensive pressure got him in trouble near the end of the game, when he committed the cardinal sin of fouling Atlanta's Kevin Pangos while he was attempting a desperation three-pointer as the shot-clock was expiring.
Overall Gary Payton II displayed the defensive pressure, athleticism, and court vision that have NBA scouts believing he can stick around in the league. He also knocked down his only three-point attempt of the night which is a great sign for him. Payton unfortunately made some uncharacteristic errors and deferred to teammates instead of imposing himself on the offensive end. Thankfully it was just the first game and errors are common in the summer league. Tune in this Sunday as the Rockets take on the Sacramento Kings at 3:30.
Additional game notes:
- Sam Dekker had a nice game leading all scorers with 18 points. He came up hobbling after a fast break dunk in the 4th but it did not appear to be serious.
- Michael Beasley had 7 rebounds in the first 5 minutes of the game but only finished with 9 total. He also shot 3-15 from the field.
- Kyle Wiltjer, who also signed with Houston after going undrafted, displayed nice shooting touch finishing with 3 three-pointers and 13 points.
- The Hawks first round pick, Taurean Prince, did not play and won't be able to until the 3-team trade involving George Hill, Jeff Teague and himself is finalized.