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Orlando Summer League, Day 1: Perry Jones and Reggie Jackson Impress, But the Thunder Fall to Jared Sullinger and the Celtics 65-73

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Perry Jones, wondering why NBA Draft picks wear baseball caps....
Perry Jones, wondering why NBA Draft picks wear baseball caps....

Boston Celtics 73, Oklahoma City Thunder 65 Recap (Via Evan Dunlap)

In their first Summer League game, the Thunder had a terrible first quarter, made a huge comeback in the second quarter, led for most of the third quarter, and then lost their lead when it mattered in the fourth, suffering from a lack of defense down low and distribution problems.

But that's all I'll say about the game in general, because during the Summer League most players are out there to impress scouts, with their skills, not impress anybody with their ability to fit within a particular system. So I'll focus my recap on the individual performances of the Thunder players, along with a few notes on some of the other team's performers as well.


Perry Jones III, 16 Points, 8 Rebounds (Thunder Wonder)

Perry Jones III was arguably the most impressive player on the floor tonight. Hayward and Jackson had more points, but they either shot the ball poorly or turned the ball over. Jones held his own against Jared Sullinger when Sullinger went into the paint, and Jones showed his ability to both hit the jumper and attack the basket from the baseline. It's true that the concerns voiced about Jones' game and effort (mainly by Clark Matthews) have some merit, as he did settle for a few jumpers and wasn't part of the offense at times. But he never really took a contested shot, and he managed to get high percentage looks around the rim, got a putback at one point, and even took on Fab Melo. Heck, he was even drawing double-teams. His most memorable moments came when he scored a sick fadeaway after creating space on JaJuan Johnson, and when he rebounded his own post shot for a quick score.

Reggie Jackson, 19 Points, 7-15 Shooting, 3 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 4 Turnovers (Thunder Down Under)

The main thing I took away from his performance tonight was that Reggie Jackson is Russell Westbrook lite. Unlike the game we saw from him during the season, he was extremely aggressive today, recklessly trying to attack the basket and not being very good at sensing where other players were on the floor. Granted, a lot of these guys have just met each other, but it really wouldn't hurt to see him try to throw the ball to Cole Aldrich once in a while. Admittedly, his distribution abilities did improve throughout the game, as he wasn't so aggressive about driving the lane, and made a couple of assists. But his passing ability still looked limited, as all he really did was drive and kick.

However, he did have a few nice highlight reel plays, such as a quick steal for an easy dunk early in the first, an a short scoring battle he got into with E'Twaun Moore in the second quarter. Late in the game, Jackson proved to be a clutch scorer, hitting a deep step up three, and then driving the lane for a backwards layup. His coup de grace came when he scored an And 1 against Moore in the lane, actually drawing contact twice. Still, he tried to do way too much in the closing moments, probably costing Oklahoma City some crucial points.

Below: Lazar Hayward, Cole Aldrich, Under the Radar Guys, The Enemy!

Lazar Hayward, 18 Points, 4-14 Shooting, 9-9 FT, 9 Rebounds, 1 Steal, 1 Block (Thunder Blunder)

During the first half, it looked like Lazar Hayward was constantly ramming his head against a brick wall. He continually stampeded into the paint, just to get his shot tipped or altered by Jamar Smith. Later in the game, he found a little bit more success, hitting an open three, drilling a couple jumpers, and continuing to get to the line. But I think this play near the very end of the game says it all. He got the ball in the corner, got fouled on the three attempt, made all three shots, but then turned around and made a stupid off-ball foul that gave Boston a free throw and the return of the ball. He just didn't seem to have very good presence of mind on the floor, or an ability to pass the ball. He didn't even pass on a fast break once, preferring to take it coast-to-coast. He's going to have to round out his game if he's to impress in Orlando.

Cole Aldrich, 1 Point, 0-4 Shooting, 7 Rebounds, 1 Assist, 3 Turnovers, 1 Block

You could call his performance disappointing, but I prefer to call it confusing. Early in the first, he was given two immediate attempts down low. Both of them were low arcing hook shots, both missed. He then proceeded to pretty much disappear for the rest of the game, only re-surfacing in the third with another missed hook. Nobody fed him the ball, even when he came out to set a pick and ran to the basket, mostly unguarded. I'd fault that more to Reggie Jackson than anybody, but considering he was guarded by guys smaller than him most of the time, I'm puzzled as to why he went for so many hooks. The Thunder have never had a back to the basket center, and would probably respond more positively to a pick and roll guy. But he was getting to his spots, and maybe it was just an off day for him. Regardless, I'd like to see him get more opportunities in the future. Defensively, he was what you expect him to be. Good at one on one in the post, a bit slow on help D. Terrible against other centers who can shoot. That's about it.

Under the Radar:

Dwight Buycks, 6 Points, 3-8 Shooting, 1 Rebound, 4 Turnovers

This guy was the backup point guard, and it's not surprising to see that he didn't get any assists, given that he was mainly a scorer in college. So I don't fault him for it. He made a couple nice moves to create a mid-range shot for himself, and he had a nice drive into the lane. But whether he can have consistent success on offense is the big question.

Garrett Temple, 5 Points, 4 Rebounds, 1 Assist, 1 Steal

I remember him hitting a couple jumpers, but considering he played 25 minutes, his performance wasn't that great. He forced a couple of shots, and his stats elsewhere were just meh. Wait and see on this guy.

Ryan Reid, 0 Points, 0-3 FG, 2 Rebounds

He's pretty much non-existant on offense, with any potential scores coming while working hard in the post. He did attempt an open jumper, but it bricked badly. He's not quick enough to defend the mid-range, but he did a good job of holding his ground in the post.

Morris Almond, 0 Points, 0-1 Shooting, 1 Rebound, 1 Steal

I could have swore I saw this guy rebound it and score it, but I guess I was wrong. He did manage to airball a jumper, though. And he did get a nice steal at the end of the third, to nix the Celtics last possession. But I'd need to see more from him before I made any judgement.

The Enemy:

Jared Sullinger, 6-12 Shooting, 7-7 FT, 20 Points, 6 Rebounds, 1 Assist (Thunder Plunderer)

His scoring was definitely spot on. This guy could hit threes, mid-range jumpers, and draw contact around the rim for easy scores or fouls. But his defense left a bit to be desired, as he let Perry Jones get quite a bit of points. Still, the future looks promising for him, as post scorers are always valued in the NBA.

E'Twaun Moore, 16 Points, 6-16 Shooting, 4 Assists, 4 Fouls, 2 Turnovers

His day wasn't bad, per se. But early in the game, he definitely forced a few too many shots, and he was drawn into contact a lot with Reggie Jackson. Later in the game, he was a reliable scorer, getting into a back and forth with Jackson at one point and hitting some clutch shots to help the Celtics take the game.

Dionte Christmas, 10 Points, 4-9 Shooting, 10 Rebounds, 4 Assists

He was the only guy who seemed to like to play team basketball today. In that sense, I'd say that's why the Celtics won. He didn't force too many shots, hustled for rebounds, and played excellent defense.

Random Notes: At times, the Celtics seemed almost too hesitant, using a lot of shot clock, and got picked off on the weak side right wing three times.....Mysteriously, Latavious Williams never saw the floor. Rotations can fluctuate wildly in the Summer League, so hopefully we'll see more of him later....I think Dennis Scott really wants to play.

Who was your Thunder Wonder today? What did you think of the game? Vote in the poll, post a comment!