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Behind Babbitt, Trail Blazers Get Back On Track

  1. Written by: DHawes22  / avg. rating: 5.0

    It wasn’t always pretty, but the Trail Blazers managed to scrap their way to a 67-60 victory over the Timberwolves to ensure a winning record this time around in the Las Vegas Summer League.

    Trailing at the half, 30-28, Portland came out energized in the third quarter behind the sweet-shooting Luke Babbitt, who tallied 11 points, including 3-3 from three-point range in the period to help the Trail Blazers outscore the Timberwolves 24-15 to take control of the game.

    "Obviously when you make shots it looks nicer, but he's gotten those looks and Luke is going to make those shots," said summer league head coach Kaleb Canales. "He's a great shooter and like we talked about before, he's starting to play on his toes more than he's started playing on his heels. That's going to continue to help him in his development."

    Fans looking for offense or sharp-shooting in the second quarter came to the wrong gym, as only 20 combined points were scored on only six made field goals. The Timberwolves shot just 20 percent (3-for-15) while the Blazers shot just 15.7 percent (3-for-19).

    "We talked about it at halftime to understand the difference between non-contested twos and contested twos," said Kanales. "We felt that our shots were going to go in in the second half. We just need to keep moving the ball and keep playing to that second screen. We had confidence that we were going to make shots. We didn't want to take bad shots but we knew that if we got looks like we got in the first half in the second half that we would knock those shots down."

    Through the first 12 minutes of action, the Trail Blazers looked as if they were still had a hangover from their first Summer League defeat just two night ago, only mustering up 20 points. Had it not been for the aggressiveness of Dante Cunningham in the first period (10 points, 5 rebounds), the whole complexion of the game could have been different.

    Minnesota was led by center Patrick O’Bryant who had a game-high 16 points, on 7-10 shooting from the field, and a team-high 10 rebounds. Deon Thompson chipped in a double-double of his own with 13 points and 12 rebounds, while rookie Lazar Hayward had a rough shooting night, only finding the bottom of the net four times in 16 tries for 10 points. Fellow rookie and lottery pick, Wesley Johnson, did not play due to injury.

    Aiding in the Trail Blazers’ balanced attack was the backcourt duo of Patty Mills and Armon Johnson. Mills shook off an off shooting night (5-for-18) to hit key shots late to put the game on ice, while Johnson ran the show efficiently to the tune of 13 points (5-for-9 shooting), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals. Jeff Pendergraph, one night removed from a franchise setting 14 rebounds, ended up with 12 boards tonight.

    Portland’s record is now 3-1 in the Las Vegas Summer League. They’ll be taking on their last opponent, the Chicago Bulls, tomorrow afternoon at 3 pm in the COX Pavilion. The final Summer League game can be seen on Comcast Channel 37 or heard on 95.5 The Game.

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