2018 Pacers Summer League: Day 4 Notebook

Pacers, NBA Summer League

LAS VEGAS — The Pacers’ third and final pool game of the 2018 Summer League in Las Vegas was highlighted by a matchup of two top first-round point guards: Indiana’s Aaron Holiday (23rd) vs Cleveland’s Collin Sexton (8th).

This was the first real challenge for Holiday since he became a Pacer officially on July 1. It was obvious that they were going to go at one another.

Sexton did more damage on the offensive end, outscoring Holiday 21 to 12. He also dished out four assists and had four turnovers. Holiday, meanwhile, provided more all-around contributions – with eight assists, five rebounds, and three steals — but he was also responsible for eight of the Pacers’ 17 turnovers.

“Collin is a heck of a player,” Steve Gansey, coach of the Summer Pacers, said after the Cavaliers held on for a 93-88 win.

“He came down and hit a three. Aaron wanted come right back down and go at him, too. Those are two top young point guards that are in this league. It was fun to watch, but I think those guys got a little gassed towards the end after going at each other.”

The team’s were dead even over the final two quarters. 22-22 in the third and 24-24 in the fourth. The difference ultimately was the second frame, when the Cavs outscored the Pacers by eight points, and held them to 33.3-percent shooting.

This was one of the fun games within a game that is not only fun to observe, but it can also push the players. The Pacers just wrapped up their sixth day in Las Vegas — and anyone who has visited knows that’s three days too many.

After a poor showing in the opening game, T.J. Leaf led the Pacers in scoring for the second consecutive game with 20 points on 8-of-21 shooting, and grabbed nine boards. With 21 field goal attempts, it’s clear that he has the green light — and he should in summer league. He’s working to be a rotational player during his sophomore campaign. He’s spent the majority of his first offseason in Indy at the team facility, gained about 20 pounds in muscle, and continuing to gain confidence at this level.

“We wanted him to get stronger and pick it up on the defensive end,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said on Saturday.

Second-round pick Alize Johnson continues to impress, and live up to the bulldog playing style described by team officials. He scored 16 points and had seven rebounds, three on the offensive end due to his relentless mindset. Second-year guard Edmond Sumner looked better, finishing with 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting, plus two assists and two steals.

“He’s been playing really well defensively for us,” Gansey said. “I thought early on, he was really getting into (Cedi) Osman and really disrupted him, got some steals and deflections. And he’s got to continue to do that.”

Pool play is now complete for the Pacers. They went 1-2, recording a win over San Antonio but losing to Houston and Cleveland. The single-elimination tournament action begins on Wednesday, July 11.

To ensure that all teams play at least two more games, those 15 teams who lose in the first round will play a consolation game on Friday, July 13. That’s, at the earliest, when the Pacers’ first appearance in the Las Vegas Summer League could be over.

Before this tournament, they were the only active NBA franchise not to play in Las Vegas, now in its 14th year. They had always gone to Orlando. The Magic, however, under new management, no longer wished to host and instead preferred Vegas for the exposure and spotlight it provided to the team and its players, according to league sources.

Sacramento quickly took advantage and launched a four-team summer league — dubbed the California Classic — which was a huge success. Utah continues to host its own four-team summer league.

Under Review…

Monday’s game dragged on because the Summer Pacers weren’t giving up. And coach Steve Gansey wanted to challenge a questionable foul whistled on Sumner.

With less than a minute to play and down by six, Aaron Holiday threw the ball away. Billy Preston then got the ball and attacked the basket with 34.2 seconds to play. Sumner went up to contest and was issued a foul for contact.

NBA Summer League, Pacers

The NBA is experimenting with a coaches challenge during summer league.

This play was right in front of the Pacers’ bench, and coach Gansey wanted to challenge the call, just like he can in the G League. For the first time this summer, the NBA is experimenting in summer league by allowing coaches to challenge one play — only during the final two minutes of the fourth quarter and overtime.

Gansey hit the button at the end of the scorer’s table, in front of Krissy Myers of Pacers PR, but he was then informed that the play was not eligible to be challenged.

Gansey’s explanation: “In the G League, you’re allowed to challenge foul calls. I thought it was the same thing here. You can only challenge two different things here, which doesn’t make any sense to me. I wish you could challenge a call because if they blow a call, you got to at least get an opportunity to get the ball back. In the G League you can, here you can’t.”

Another Day Off Tuesday

The Pacers landed in Las Vegas last Wednesday, scrimmaged Team China on Thursday, and then got the 82-game Summer League started at noon (local time) on Friday. They had a day off Sunday, and then again on Tuesday as they wait to learn who their opponent will be on Wednesday.

That didn’t stop several Pacers from getting to a gym.

Alex Poythress and Edmond Sumner got work in at the Mendenhall Center, adjacent to the Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion. It’s actually the summer home for USA Basketball, which will hold a team minicamp July 26th and 27th.

The Pacers begin the tournament portion on Wednesday at 8:30 pm ET against Atlanta (NBA TV). If they win, they’ll face Portland on Thursday at 10:30 pm ET (ESPN2). Lose, and they’ll play the loser of Brooklyn/Houston on Friday at 4:00 pm ET (ESPNU).

Visit From the Owner

Well, kind of.

Pacers, Steve Simon

Pacers owner Steve Simon (middle) attended the team’s second summer league game.

Herb Simon is the owner of the team, but his eldest son, Steve, has quietly taken on a larger role with the franchise over the last several years.

He’s officially listed as the owner and alternate NBA Governor, meaning he can represent that team at league meetings, etc. The NBA Board of Governors held a meeting Tuesday in Las Vegas.

And Herb has shared that his succession plan is for Steve to take over ownership, eventually.

Steve, who primarily lives in California, came through the Cox Pavilion to watch his Pacers play, sitting between Pritchard and Carr.

Women in Stripes

If you’ve watched any part of games in Las Vegas, you probably saw a least one woman officiating the game. That’s because the NBA’s has increased their efforts to have women officiating in the league.

NBA Commissioner said that 19 of the 81 summer league officials are women and that they will account for roughly 50 percent of the new hires for the G League — and that number should only increase in future years.

“We expect to have higher, significant numbers of women into the G League development path coming out of the Summer League this fall,” Silver said. “So it takes a little bit of time. But to me, it’s a bit embarrassing that we only have one working woman in our officiating ranks right now. There is no physical reason why that’s the case. It’s just the way things have grown up in the league, but we’re determined to change that as quickly as possible.”

All current officials work their way from summer league to the G League before being selected for the ultimate promotion — to The Association.

Goodbyes to Glenn

Glenn Robinson III, Detroit Pistons, Pacers, Kevin Pritchard

GRIII visits with Kevin Pritchard and other Pacers Monday in Vegas.

Glenn Robinson III spent the weekend in Las Vegas. The former Pacer (that still feels odd) signed his new contract with the Detroit Pistons and then was courtside for two of their summer league games.

The Pistons played before the Pacers on Sunday, so GRIII ran into team officials on his way out, including Kevin Pritchard, Chad Buchanan, and Ryan Carr.

Glenn then made his way over to one corner where the Pacers’ make-shift locker room was set up. There, he was saying hi and giving hugs to team staffers. He’s a likable guy that will be missed in the locker room.

Pritchard Joins the Broadcast

Kevin Pritchard arrived in Las Vegas on Friday, and joined the ESPN2 broadcast during Monday’s game. Here are the highlights of what he had to say.

  • The 2017-18 season was easily the “funnest team” he has been around in 26 years in professional basketball. I don’t think this is hyperbole. It’s a sentiment that I’ve heard from several other staffers within the locker room. That group worked well together and all had the same motivation: to prove everyone wrong. Pritchard cited how every guy had to make sacrifices.
  • Kyle O’Quinn signed earlier Monday. They have two open roster spots and minimum-level money to offer. O’Quinn and Tyreke Evans joined the team on short-term deals, just one year each. Next summer, the Pacers could have potentially $57 million available to spend.
  • “Maybe we attract some of the big players. I don’t know. I don’t know if Indiana can, but if we keep winning and getting better and have good cultures and enjoy playing with each other, then we have a chance.”

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