Things got off to a disappointing start in this game, as the officials took the majority of the interesting players off the court within the first couple of minutes. Minnesota committed six fouls in the first three minutes, which sent Ndudi Ebi
and Dwayne Jones
to the bench right away. Luther Head
also sat down after a couple of minutes. Combine that with Nikoloz Tskitishvilli and Bracey Wright
being out, and there wasnt a whole lot to watch in the first half.
The officials kept the whistles blowing the entire night, and the final totals on fouls probably tell the story better than I can. There were 75 total fouls called, and 88 free throws shot. The crowd seemed quite flabbergasted by it all, and some of the most vocal dissent actually came from a couple of NBA executives. Several people I talked to mentioned that the league likes to try different things with the officiating in the summer leagues, but this was ridiculous to the point where it was tough to get a good read on what the players were doing out there. Lonny Baxter
went on a tear early in the second half, turning a seven point Houston deficit into an eight point lead headed into the fourth. John Lucas
, backed by very loud support from the Minnesota bench, led a bit of a late rally, but Baxter and Head both hit their free throws down the stretch to seal the deal on an 85-79 Houston win. HoustonLonny Baxter
What more can one player do for a team? Baxter was everywhere, pushing people around on the block, getting Wolves big men to bite on pump fakes, driving and dunking, and even hitting an open jumper or two. His clutch free throws held off a scrappy Minnesota team in the final minute. His final line: 31 points, 8-12 shooting, 15-19 from the line. I find it hard to believe that a player as good as Baxter couldnt get off the bench in the Euroleague this past season playing for Panathinaikos in Greece. If he doesnt end up back in the NBA this fall, hes going to make a foreign team very happy. Luther Head
It was another solid performance for Luther. He is always doing something proactive, no matter if its driving and dishing, playing the passing lanes, or simply busting his butt up and down the court. He had a bit of trouble finishing around the basket, but he did go 3 of 4 from beyond the arc. He also was perfect from the line in key situations. He finished with 17 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals on the night. Dion Glover
Glover shot just 2-10 from the floor, but was absolutely unstoppable taking the ball to the basket. The officials were just so whistle-happy that he did all of his scoring from the line. He really took over in the first half, blowing past Ndudi Ebi
time and time again. He ended up going 13-18 from the line for 17 points in total, while adding 8 rebounds and 3 assists. Glover might be a bit single-minded in taking the ball to the basket (his outside jumper certainly wasnt falling today), but there isnt anybody in Minnesota that can stop him here. MinnesotaDwayne Jones
Jones is clearly frustrated with the officiating here, as he has picked up 19 fouls in 3 games. He wasnt awarded a single block, but probably had four or five taken away on foul calls that could have gone either way. Jones continues to show that he has what it takes as a banger and defender down low, but is still very raw on offense. He bobbles nearly every pass that comes his way, though he did have a nice finish right at the basket in the 2nd half tonight. He finished with 14 points on 4-4 shooting in 17 minutes. John Lucas
Lucas showed some fairly impressive hops in the pregame warm-ups, and carried that energy over into the game. He ran the offense effectively, and was hitting from the outside. He finished nicely on a couple of drives to the basket as well. While Lucas size probably ends up being his downfall, he has played very well this weekend. This 17 point effort was his best thus far.
Other Notes: Malick Badiane
fell back to earth today, not really doing anything in fifteen mostly first half minutes. Chuck Hayes
got a bit of action, showing off some of the aggressiveness he is known for. Ndudi Ebi
is still forcing the action, and really got torched on the defensive end tonight. Jamal Staten
has gotten some interest recently, but he hasnt shown much of anything on the court thus far. Hes your classic tweener forward, and his offense just hasnt been clicking for him here.
Nobody seems to know what is going to happen with the NBDL, but everybody is anxious to find out. I talked to NBDL Manager of Basketball Operations Doc Martin about it, and he claims that there will be an announcement soon. Until then, well all have to keep wondering about things like whether a true minor league system could actually be in place by the start of the season, how the new system could affect the flow of players overseas, and just how high school kids could potentially fit into the mix. It sounds like NBA teams are just as anxious as we are to get answers on all of this.