Rockets top pick Jabari Smith Jr finds his rhythm against Spurs, Giddey and Holmgren shine again

By Sports Desk July 12, 2022

Jabari Smith Jr had his best Las Vegas Summer League performance on Monday, helping the Houston Rockets defeat the San Antonio Spurs 97-84.

After a pair of inefficient showings – going four-of-10 for his 10 points in the opener against the Orlando Magic and five-of-19 for 12 points against the Oklahoma City Thunder – Smith found his range against the Spurs.

He finished with 19 points, nine rebounds, two steals and one block as he displayed impressive defensive versatility, and he shot six-of-12 from the field, three-of-five from long range and four-of-five at the free throw line.

Smith, at six-foot-10 with a seven-foot-one wingspan, showed he can guard at least three positions, with only enormous centres and small, shifty point guards figuring to pose any threat to the smooth-moving wing.

He combined well at both ends with fellow first-round pick Tari Eason (17th selection) who shined with 22 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals, hitting nine-of-16 from the field and two of his three attempts from range.

Spurs first-round picks Malaki Branham (20th selection) and Blake Wesley (25th selection) also both showed strong two-way games.

Branham scored a team-high 20 points on eight-of-18 shooting, and while Wesley was much less accurate (three-of-20 from the field for 14 points), he got to the free throw line (eight-of-nine), and collected team-highs in assists (four) and steals (three).

Immediately following that game was Chet Holmgren and the Oklahoma City Thunder as they beat the Orlando Magic 84-81 hours after it was announced the Magic's top pick Paolo Banchero would not participate in any more Summer League action.

While the Magic believe they have seen all they needed from Banchero, the Thunder are using Summer League to build chemistry between their young core, with second-year point guard Josh Giddey also suiting up again.

Holmgren led his team in points with 16 on seven-of-10 shooting, and rebounds with 10, while blocking two shots and dishing two assists.

Giddey's goal of becoming a more efficient scorer is still a work-in-progress, finishing three-of-11 from the field for his 12 points, but his all-round game continues to blossom as he posted eight assists and seven rebounds.

In another notable stat-line, the seven-foot-five Tacko Fall came off the bench for the Utah Jazz against the Dallas Mavericks and collected an outrageous 15 rebounds in 17 minutes, with 13 of his rebounds coming on the offensive end. He also scored 12 points and blocked three shots.

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