Jarnell Stokes

Lakers bury Blazers' title hopes under an avalanche of threes

Lakers bury Blazers' title hopes under an avalanche of threes

LAS VEGAS -- The hope of a summer-league championship died hard for the Trail Blazers Monday night. But it died just the same.

The Los Angeles Lakers knocked down 14 of its 24 three-point field goals and shot 61.5 percent from the field overall to beat Portland in the title game 110-98.

Portland let through most of the first half and by as many as eight points, but only by one, 59-58, at halftime. Caleb Swanigan, earlier named to the Summer-League all-star first team, owned the first half. He had 11 points, eight rebounds and five assists in 17:44. Jarnell Stokes led the Blazers in the first half with 14.

It was a hot-shooting opening half. Portland fired at a 51.1 percent clip but the Lakers were better at 59 percent, including 8 of their 12 three-point attempts.

Kyle Kuzma -- probably the best shooter in the summer league -- hit a howitzer from well beyond the arc at the third-quarter buzzer to give Los Angeles an 84-79 lead going into the fourth quarter. The Blazres fell behind quickly in the fourth, as the Lakers rattled off the first eight points of the period to capture a 92-79 lead.

Kuzma was unstoppable, as he has been for much of this tournament. He hit 11 of his first 14 shots, six of eight from long range, and had 30 points in the first three quarters. Portland fought back, as it has done throughout this tournament, but the lead was too much to overcome.

Swanigan led Portland with 25 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.

Behind the Trail Blazers' summer-league surge -- who are those guys?

Behind the Trail Blazers' summer-league surge -- who are those guys?

LAS VEGAS -- The Portland Trail Blazer summer-league team, which had won just one game heading into the league's tournament, vaulted into Saturday's quarterfinals Thursday night -- and the players behind Portland's win were not exactly building blocks for the future of the franchise.

Yes, Jake Layman and Caleb Swanigan did their part in the win over top-seeded Toronto, but it took clutch efforts from some other guys -- free agents -- to carry the Trail Blazers to the win. With Pat Connaughton and Zach Collins sidelined by injuries, this squad has needed contributions from others. Who are those guys? Well, let's take a look:

  • NICK JOHNSON -- A former Pac-12 player of the year and a first-team all-American from Arizona, he played 28 games for Houston during the 2014-15 season after being a second-round pick of the Rockets. Played in the G-League before heading overseas for a a job playing for Bayern Munich in the German league, averaging 8.1 points per game while shooting just 33.5 percent from the field. Against Toronto, the guard took over the game for a spell in the third quarter and finished with 17 points, hitting six of his nine shots from the floor. He's a hard-nosed player who is here playing for a job, be it in Europe or the NBA.
  • RJ HUNTER -- Had 11 points on 4-8 shooting against Toronto and continued his steady play at guard. Has played 39 games over two seasons in the NBA with Boston and Chicago. Was a first-round pick out of Georgia State by the Celtics in the 2015 NBA draft. Like Johnson, he's a tough player who is here auditioning for a job. Scouts from all over Europe are here looking for talent and the NBA is still an option.
  • JARNELL STOKES -- He was drafted in the second round of the 2014 draft by the Denver Nuggets out of Tennessee. He has played a total of 28 games in the NBA for three different teams -- Memphis, Miami and Denver -- and at 6-9, 265 he is a load inside. He takes up a lot of space. He's come up big for Portland on the inside, defending and rebounding well and scoring more points than was probably expected for a guy who has averaged a bit more than one basket a game during his career. At his size, he's going to play for money someplace in the world.