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Summer League Recap: Pelicans 77, Knicks 72

Notes on the Knicks' first game in Vegas


Okay! Game 1 of the Knicks' Summer League experience in Las Vegas is behind us. The Knicks lost to the Pelicans. That's too bad. We're not gonna worry about that. We're just gonna talk about how those SummerKnicks looked in their first minutes:

- It was nice to see Iman Shumpert out there (with a little rust-colored dye in his flat-top, no less), but he didn't look so hot as the team's primary ball-handler. His handle didn't look any tighter than we're used to in the pick-and-roll, and his decisions-- when to pass, when to attack, when to change pace-- didn't really make sense. Some of that is the discombobulation inherent in the first Summer League game and some of that is Shump taking it easy in a setting in which he has nothing to prove, but some of it felt like Shump playing out of his element. He did throw a few nice lob entries and play a bit of defense once the game got late and close. Shump's Shump. Not worried about him.

- Tim Hardaway Jr. sure does like to shoot! He operated mainly off the ball and, because the ball wasn't exactly humming around the perimeter, went stretches without any touches. Any touches he did get immediately went up. Most of those looks were reasonable ones and Hardaway got a few to fall while drawing fouls on others, but he ended up just 4-12 from the field and 1-6 from downtown. Some of those attempts were suuuper yucky (long twos early in the clock) and a few were wasted first steps that should have been drives. Hardaway had a lovely finish off a back-cut and alley-oop from Shump, so we at least got to see some of his athleticism. At the other end, Iliked the way he rotated and recovered away from the ball, but Austin Rivers cooked him a few times off the dribble.

- C.J. Leslie moved very gracefully in transition, even if he didn't finish everything. He put up a couple gross shots in the halfcourt and showed nothing resembling a consistent jumper. On defense, he kinda zoned out at times and missed a few rebounds, but denied the ball well and usually stayed in front of his man if there wasn't a pick. (Picks ruined pretty much everyone).

- Actually, Toure' Murry had some solid moments fighting over picks. He's a big, feisty guard (the internet calls him a forward, but the Knicks didn't really use him like a forward) and stood out among that group. Murry drilled three of five jumpers (even if a few were questionable takes) and had the highlight of the day in splitting two Pelicans off the dribble and finishing with a double-clutch righty scoop.

- Chris Smith played like he gave a shit on defense and made the right pass a few times. He also missed a bunch of really awful shots taken in inopportune circumstances. He looked comfortable on his surgically repaired knee, if still unable to make clean, useful plays off the dribble.

I had a bit of trouble keeping track of the various big men I'd never watched before, BUT:

- Terrence Jennings can shoot out of the pick-and-roll! That's nice. He's got a weird-ass leg-kicky release, but the shots dropped. He played okay pick-and-roll D, too, and was one of few big men to actually contest a shot off penetration. He also paid attention and timed his efforts well on the glass. We saw a couple o' dumb fouls and at least one ill-fated drive, but I enjoyed what I saw from Jennings.

- Jeremy Tyler was rowdy as hell. He snaggled rebounds like a fiend and may have actually bitten somebody while playing help defense (five fouls in 23 minutes). His early offense was wild-- like he'd just learned a bunch of moves and was testing all of them all at once-- but he moved well in the open floor and got some buckets later on just by scrapping for inside position and easy put-backs.

- Eloy Vargas can shoot, too! Dude hit a three! Vargas made a few plays at the rim, too, but didn't do much rebounding and didn't cover ground too smartly in help defense. Hardly anybody did.

- Liam McMorrow is very, very big. I think I saw him hit a hook shot. Other than that, he looked pretty uncoordinated.

- I liked Justin Brownlee's effort on defense, but don't feel like I saw enough of him, A.J. Matthews (looked pretty flimsy), or J'Covan Brown to have much of an opinion.

- Yeap, Clyde still says "Barn-yar-nee". You can also tell he didn't quite love the acquisition.

It'll obviously take a lot more time before we have any sense of what these guys can do consistently, but today was a nice introduction. More Summer League coverage to come, and it'll be straight from Vegas starting on Sunday, when the Knicks play their second game.