The Bucks kicked off their Las Vegas Summer League schedule Monday night with a somewhat disjointed 76-68 victory over the New Orleans Hornets. The matchup lost some of its luster before tip when it was determined that both teams' top overall draft selections would not be suiting up, denying Bucks fans the chance to see not just their own first-round pick, but the top overall pick from last month's draft. Henson sat out with an illness but is expected to be in the lineup on Wednesday.
The Bucks started off very well thanks to the two stars of the night: forward Tobias Harris and guard Doron Lamb. The two combined for most of Milwaukee's early offense and seemingly couldn't miss in the opening minutes. Lamb sunk a few early jumpers, primarily working off of pin-downs or off-ball screens. Harris was also involved in some early screen action, frequently curling into the middle of the floor where he could attack the basket or pass off to the perimeter. The Bucks built a large lead on the backs of these two and looked to have the offense rolling.
Then the middle of the game happened, and things got screwy. Milwaukee's big man rotation was thrown into chaos as Larry Sanders and Brian Butch (who started in place of John Henson) racked up fouls with great haste. The Bucks' offense largely disappeared and the Hornets never found theirs. The fourth quarter saw the pace quicken and the return of something resembling scoring acumen, but this contest was certainly a far cry from the offensive expos one might expect from Summer League. The Hornets threatened to tie or take the lead late, but a few miscues and late free throws by Doron Lamb sealed the victory for Milwaukee.
We'll be covering the major players in greater detail throughout Summer League play. For now, hit the jump for a few points on the players of note.
Tobias Harris. Despite his youth, Harris played like a clear veteran in what was actually his first Summer League game. He showed a remarkably refined and versatile offensive game, scoring off the dribble and with deliberate off-ball movement. His eagerness to run the floor is fantastic, and he was rewarded/rewarded us with some nice transition buckets. It will be interesting to see if he plays primarily on the perimeter for the entirety of Milwaukee's SL series--Steve noted that Harris only had one post isolation all game. The Bucks likely hope Harris can fill a good chunk of the minutes at the 3, so his ability to handle the ball on (and perhaps shoot from) the perimeter will be paramount.
Doron Lamb. Lamb looked like a scoring machine for stretches of this game, showing off the kind of catch-and-shoot ability that Bucks fans fell in love with in Mike Dunleavy. Lamb also had some nice moves off the dribble and looked very active off the ball. There's little doubt he'll be one of the better pure shooters on the roster, he just needs to show he can contribute elsewhere (especially on defense) to earn a definitive role. He grabbed four defensive rebounds and didn't turn the ball over, a nice complement to an efficient scoring performance.
Larry Sanders. Ok, take a deep breath everybody. Sanders had a night to quickly and perhaps forcefully forget, but this game just seemed like one where he was totally out of his element. True, it's discouraging that the most experienced player on the floor would be out of his element, but it feels unlikely Sanders will manage to foul out of every game this summer. He looked as uncoordinated as ever on offense, for the most part, but did grab six boards and block three shots. I had my fun attacking his ordeal, but it's no more fair to declare him dead and buried than it is to declare Lamb Rookie of the Year. He basically committed all of the dumb fouls there were (and the officiating wasn't exactly top-notch), so another game to just relax might be all he needs.