Jul 18

Blazers Bounced From Summer League Tournament With Loss To Suns

By caseyholdahl

The Portland Trail Blazers (1-4) were eliminated from the inaugural Las Vegas Summer League tournament Thursday night with a 92-84 loss to the Phoenix Suns at the Cox Pavilion on the campus of UNLV.

Thursday night's loss played out similarly as Portland's first four games had, with the Trail Blazers playing well in the first quarter, struggling mightily in the the second and third quarters before rallying to make a game of it in the fourth quarter.

"You get to a point where you're down and you've got to fight and all the sudden play with a sense of urgency and we came into the game tonight hoping to play with a sense of urgency from the beginning," said acting summer league head coach David Vanterpool. "I thought we did a little bit in the first quarter, we had a good thing going. And once (the Suns) get comfortable -- they got guys that have played and know how to play -- they get comfortable (and) it gets really tough. Tough to defend, tough to stop them from rolling. Once they're rolling we've got to turn it up the same level that they turned it up to and we just haven't been able to meet that yet."

Portland will complete their summer league schedule Friday with a consolation bracket contest against the Minnesota Timberwolves, though the starters, after playing their third game in as many nights, are not expected to play.

With five summer league games under their belts, here's what CJ MCollum (22 points, five assists and four rebounds), Will Barton (21 points, eight rebounds, two steals and one assist) and Meyers Leonard (15 points, 13 rebounds, two assists), along with Coach Vanterpool, had to say about their overall impressions of their performances in Las Vegas.

CJ McCollum on his performance at summer league:

"I felt that it went okay. I'm never satisfied. I thought I did some things well, I thought I did somethings poorly. The biggest thing is to kind of learn from it and not make the same mistakes twice, kind of get adjusted to new teammates and get adjusted to playing in the NBA. I think it's a great experience, regardless of how you fare and how you win or lose, you want to learn. That's the biggest thing for rookies: come in and learn. Kind of get used to picking your spots and get used to seeing what type of shots you're going to get in the actual game."

Coach David Vanterpool on CJ McCollum's performance:

"It's obvious that he's a very good player. It's also obvious he has a lot of things to learn, especially playing the point guard position on this level. Everything is a work in progress. You want to uplift your teammates and get them to a point where they trust you and trust the things that you do and the decision you make. CJ's going to have to learn to pick up things a little bit quicker on the fly. With our whole team we want to emphasize sharing the ball offensively and CJ's been used to scoring points. Being that type of point guard is really difficult, especially out here, so we want to try and figure out easier ways for him to be able to score points…  He'll learn. Like I said before, humble guy, really contentious. I'm not worried about him."

Will Barton on his performance at summer league:

"Up and down. Got hurt, tried to come back and play through it… Definitely seen improvement in my play. And I've just got to keep working. Nothing happens overnight. It's a process, so just got to keep working."

Coach David Vanterpool on Will Barton's performance:

"Will wants to do well so bad. He's been working hard and he really wants to show what he's been working on and how its improved. Sometimes you push a little bit hard and you look to create shots, especially when we're losing. Again, sense of urgency tends to seep in when those things happen. Will, again, is no different from any the other players as far as some of the shots he took tonight, we want to improve his shot selection, of course, but he's got to be aggressive."

Meyers Leonard on his performance at summer league:

"Played as hard as I could. Would have like to come out with a couple more wins. Was happy with my defense, struggle a little bit on the offensive end as far as shooting midrange shots and three-pointers, but the coaches and my teammates have a lot of confidence in me to knock those down, and in fact, I get in trouble when I don't shoot. I just have to continue to work hard, learn, improve and finish out this summer, have a good training camp and continue to move forward."

Coach David Vanterpool on Meyers Leonard's performance:

"Meyers is Meyers. You've got to love the kid. He enjoys himself on the court. Today, he did well rebounding. That's something he and I went over, as a matter of fact, before the game, some video stuff with that. Did a great job rebounding, I thought. Did a great job picking his spots. Just like everybody else, our decisions just have to be quicker. When the ball is coming you've got to know what's going to happen next. Meyers is really improving. I think he showed that here."


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