• The summer Portland Trail Blazers fared just a bit better than their parent counterparts in playoff basketball. Behind more well-rounded efforts from incumbents hoping to stick on the regular-season roster and their recent draft picks, the two-seeded Blazers beat the Atlanta Hawks 95-69 on Friday night at Thomas & Mack Center, advancing to the quarterfinals of the Las Vegas Summer League. Portland, 4-0, remains one of two undefeated teams in Sin City, along with the Los Angeles Lakers, who beat the Blazers in the championship game of last year’s event.

    Jake Layman was impressive yet again for Portland. The third-year forward came out firing from the opening tip, scoring his team’s first eight points on three consecutive jumpers en route to a team-high 20 points. He went 4-of-5 from beyond the arc, showing no hesitation whatsoever to launch no matter where he was on the floor or how much time was left on the shot clock. Layman also showed off his impressive leaping ability on an effortless alley-oop dunk courtesy of Wade Baldwin.

    Baldwin’s line was solid; 15 points, six rebounds, eight assists and one turnover is production of which any guard should be proud. Just like during Portland previous three Summer League games, though, Baldwin’s impact loomed even larger than his numbers suggest. He constantly pushed the ball in transition, creating countless easy scoring opportunities for his teammates, and looked every bit an NBA-level floor general in the half court, getting wherever he wanted with the ball in pick-and-roll play while maintaining complete control of the offense. Baldwin has obvious scoring and defensive chops. If he can make open shots and add a dose of playmaking dynamism going forward, he won’t just be on the Blazers’ roster this season, but could fight his way into meaningful minutes.

    Anfernee Simons, on the other hand, is likely to spend a significant portion of 2018-19 in the G-League, but you wouldn’t know it based on his play Thursday night. The rookie first-rounder scored 20 points and grabbed four rebounds on 6-of-10 shooting, and connected on three of his seven attempts from beyond the arc. Simons looked comfortable running the show offensively, and found his way to the paint for several notable finishes, including an acrobatic and-1 layup after taking contact in the air. He was a bit disengaged defensively at times and got carried away with his dribble on two occasions late, but this was clearly the most encouraging performance of the teenager’s nascent career.

    It wasn’t quite all roses for Portland, though. Zach Collins, returning from a sprained ankle, needed 10 shots to score eight points, struggling to finish in a crowded paint. Caleb Swanigan was thoroughly outplayed by rookie Omari Spellman, a player cut from a similar cloth whose superior mobility makes him a better fit for the modern NBA. Gary Trent, Jr. had his moments on both ends of the floor, finishing with 10 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals, but consistently failed to take advantage after producing good looks on the interior with off-dribble craft. He went just 4-of-13 from the field, though shot 2-of-5 from deep – including this buzzer-beating triple on a broken play to end the third quarter, a sequence that sapped Atlanta’s spirit.

    It’s certainly worth noting that the Hawks played without John Collins, Trae Young and Tyler Dorsey, each of whom project to be in Lloyd Pierce’s rotation next season. Collins, exhibiting additional comfort as a shooter and playmaker, was arguably the best player at Summer League before being shut down in advance of elimination play, while Young, especially as a passer, began living up to NCAA hype in Las Vegas after laboring in Salt Lake City last week. The Blazers were facing an inferior foe, a reality the scoreboard reflects.

    But Summer League isn’t really about winning as much as it is about player development. With Layman splashing threes, Baldwin making his mark all over the floor and Simons consistently flashing his prodigious natural gifts, this win is another reason for Portland fans to be excited. Here’s hoping Collins and Swanigan get back on track come Sunday afternoon, when the Blazers face the winner of a matchup between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics.

Fantasy News

  • Ricky Rubio - G - Utah Jazz

    Ricky Rubio put up 17 points with four rebounds, nine assists and four steals in a loss to the Rockets in Game 2 on Wednesday.

    He shot 7-of-17 from the field and had the unfortunate matchup against James Harden for much of this game. Harden hit him with a crossover that sent Rubio to the floor, but he missed the shot. The Jazz have been getting good performances from Rubio and Derrick Favors, but the inconsistent play from the remainder of their roster has left them with a two-game series deficit. The Jazz are heading back to Utah for Game 3 as they will try to steal their first game of the series.

  • Donovan Mitchell - G - Utah Jazz

    Donovan Mitchell had another poor shooting night as he went 5-of-18 from the field on his way to 11 points in a Game 2 blowout loss to the Rockets on Wednesday.

    Mitchell shot just 1-of-8 from 3-point territory and 0-of-2 from the stripe. He also had five fouls and four turnovers while playing a team-high 37 minutes. He did add six assists and two steals, but this was a disappointing performance from the second-year rising star. Eric Gordon has been outshining him, but Mitchell has a chance to rectify things as the Jazz head home for Game 3.

  • Derrick Favors - F/C - Utah Jazz

    Derrick Favors played well in his 22 minutes of action in a Game 2 loss to the Rockets on Wednesday, with 14 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks.

    Although Favors is putting up good numbers in such limited minutes, you should not expect to see him go above 25 minutes at all in this series. He shot 7-of-11 from the field and missed both of his attempts from deep. Also, the Rockets play a lot of small ball as PJ Tucker is their power forward, so Favors is often at a defensive disadvantage when on the court.

  • Rudy Gobert - C - Utah Jazz

    Rudy Gobert did not have a great showing in Wednesday's Game 2 loss to the Rockets as he managed just 11 points and 12 rebounds on 3-of-6 shooting.

    He made five of his seven attempts from the stripe and added one assist and two steals to the stat sheet. He did not record a block in this one which is rare to see from Gobert as he averaged 2.3 blocks per game on the season. Clint Capela has been defending Gobert well, which is making things a lot tougher on the Jazz to score and rebound the ball. Gobert will look to bounce back as the Jazz head home for Game 3.

  • Royce O'Neale - F - Utah Jazz

    Royce O'Neale played well on Wednesday in a Game 2 blowout loss to the Rockets as he had 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting with three triples and four assists.

    O'Neale stepped up as Joe Ingles managed just seven points on 3-of-8 shooting with five steals. He saw 27 minutes of action in this one after seeing just 15 minutes in Game 1. He has guarded James Harden on numerous possessions thus far and it seems as though Harden goes at him every chance he gets. This may be the best game we see from O'Neale all series, but he has given the Jazz some solid run off the bench thus far.

  • James Harden - G - Houston Rockets

    James Harden dominated the Jazz in Game 2 on Wednesday as he triple-doubled with 32 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists.

    Aside from his eight turnovers, there was not much to complain about Harden’s performance. Rather, there were elements of Harden’s showing that deserve high praise such as his six triples, one block and toughness throughout the entire game. He would not back down from Ricky Rubio and actually crossed him up in the first half. The Beard is continuing his MVP-like season into the playoffs, which is no surprise given how truly great his 2018-19 campaign was.

  • Chris Paul - G - Houston Rockets

    Chris Paul put up 17 points on 5-of-11 shooting with two steals and two blocks in a blowout win over the Jazz on Wednesday.

    He made just one of his six 3-point attempts and turned the ball over six times. However, he did add four rebounds and three assists to the box score as well. James Harden is clearly the dominating force for the Rockets, but Paul's stability will be crucial for the team to continue their playoff success.

  • Eric Gordon - G - Houston Rockets

    Eric Gordon outplayed Donovan Mitchell once again in Game 2 as the Rockets beat the Jazz 118-98 on Wednesday.

    Gordon scored 16 points on an efficient 6-of-11 shooting and 3-of-6 shooting from long-range. He also contributed one rebound, two steals and one block to the stat sheet. Gordon is tasked with guarding Mitchell, which is the toughest defensive assignment on the Rockets and he is thriving in that role. He has held him to 30 points on 37 shots in the series thus far. This series could potentially end in four games if Gordon continues to play at this high of a level.

  • PJ Tucker - F - Houston Rockets

    PJ Tucker drilled four triples on his way to 16 points in a blowout win over the Jazz in Game 2 on Wednesday.

    He added two steals and four boards while converting five of his eight shots from the field. The Rockets have confidence in Tucker to fire from deep and he proved them right as he drilled four of his seven attempts from 3-point territory. Surrounding James Harden with 3-and-D wing players has been their formula for success and Tucker fits that mold perfectly. When Tucker is hitting his shots, the Rockets are likely to dominate the way they did tonight.

  • Clint Capela - C - Houston Rockets

    Clint Capela did not have to do much in the Rockets’ Game 2 blowout win over the Jazz on Wednesday as he had just seven points and 10 rebounds with three blocks.

    He shot 3-of-4 from the field and added one assist and one steal to the box score. Although the numbers were down in this one, he did what he had to do in his 29 minutes of action as he kept Rudy Gobert in check as well. Capela is an important cog in the Rockets’ formula for success, so even when he is not scoring as much he is still impacting the game in other ways.