LAS VEGAS (AP) — The NBA’s decision to invite a pair of international teams to the Summer League showed promise, even as it also demonstrated the competitive challenges facing the host team for the 2019 Basketball World Cup.
China struggled to beat NBA-affiliated squads made up largely of rookies or relatively inexperienced pros, closing out its stay in Las Vegas with a 30-point loss in Friday’s consolation round and heading home with one victory in five games.
Croatia, which will not be participating in the World Cup, was the other international team joining the fray. Croatia narrowly fell short of its maiden Summer League victory in its finale on Friday.
The World Cup will be played Aug. 31-Sept. 15. So when the NBA decided to add a pair of international teams, China seized an opportunity for a tuneup.
China and Croatia could have anticipated Summer League competition to be tough for a variety of reasons, starting with the fact that the NBA brand of basketball is officiated differently than the international game and has certain court dimensions — including the 3-point line — that are different from courts used in the Olympics and World Cup.
But if the focus was on how much they’d improve, there were some encouraging signs.
China was routed by 41 in its opener against Miami, but broke through with an 84-80 victory over Charlotte in its third game before regressing in its sluggish finale.
Croatia lost each of its first two games by 16 points before losing by eight in its third and fourth games and by a single point in its final game.
There were some standout individual performances as well.
China’s Guo Ailun, a 6-foot-2 guard, averaged 16 points in his first two games, when he shot 50 percent. His highlights included a crossover dribble that sent Charlotte’s Cody Martin sprawling.
Zhou Qi, China’s 7-1 center and a former Houston Rocket, averaged 11.3 points, 10.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocks through his first four contests. He complemented his expected above-the-rim play with several 3-pointers.
Croatia’s Zeljko Sakic, a 6-foot-8 forward who plays professionally in Poland, averaged 11.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in his first four games.
Those were timely performances, considering the plethora of NBA front office personnel on hand.
76ERS 108, RAPTORS 102
P.J. Dozier, who spent last season on a two-way contract with the Boston Celtics, hit seven 3-pointers and finished with 22 points in 24 minutes to pace Philadelphia in its victory over Toronto.
Haywood Highsmith added 16 points, and Mairal Shayock had 14 points for the 76ers (2-3).
Lindell Wigginton, an undrafted rookie out of Iowa State, scored 26 points for the Raptors (2-3). Chris Boucher continued his torrid Summer League performance with 24 points. He has averaged better than 22 points.
Terance Davis added 17 points and eight rebounds, and Dewan Hernandez scored 15 points for Toronto.
Philly connected on 14 of 31 3-point attempts. Toronto went just 6 of 27 from deep.
LAKERS 88, WARRIORS 87
Jordan Caroline, an undrafted rookie out of Nevada, scored 20 points to lift Los Angeles to its first Summer League triumph.
Jaron Johnson, who has spent several recent pro seasons overseas in France, Israel and Australia, scored 19 points for the Lakers (1-4), and Dakota Mathias added 10 points.
Kevin McClain scored 24 points for Golden State (3-2), hitting five 3s, including one from several feet behind the arc at the halftime horn.
Travis Wear scored 16 points, but missed a 3 from the corner that could have won the game as time expired.
Ebuka Izundu added 14 points and 11 rebounds, highlighted by his thunderous two-handed follow dunk.
THUNDER 69, CROATIA 68
Devon Hall’s double-pump shot in the lane with less than 5 seconds left gave Oklahoma City a late lead and sent Croatia home winless.
Yannis Morin scored 10 points for the Thunder (4-1) and preserved the win with his block of Marin Maric’s short turnaround as time expired.
Devin Cannady added 12 points and Khadeen Carrington had 11 assists for Oklahoma City.
Antonio Vrankovic had 16 points and 10 rebounds for Croatia (0-5).
Maric scored 12 points while Pavle Marcinkovic and Roko Rogic each added 11 points for Croatia.
SUNS 94, CHINA 64
Ray Spalding, Elie Okobo and Retin Obasohan each scored 11 points for Phoenix.
The 6-1 Obasohan, a three-year pro from Belgium who spent last season in the NBA G League, shot 5 of 7.
Jared Harper and Derek Willis added 10 points apiece for the Suns (3-1), who shot 9 of 18 from 3-point range as a team and had seven players score at least nine points.
Guo Ailun scored 15 points for China (1-4), which limited starting center Zhou Qi to only six minutes on the court.
Hu Jinqui scored 11 and Shen Zijie added 10 points for China, which was handed its second-worst loss of Summer League play by the Suns.
CAVALIERS 98, KINGS 96, OT
Malik Newman scored 33 points, hitting four 3-pointers, to help Cleveland edge Sacramento in overtime.
Newman, who played 42 games in the NBA G League last season, opened the two-minute extra session with a drive and lob to JaCorey Williams. Newman scored on Cleveland’s next possession for a four-point lead and he capped the scoring by going 1 of 2 from the free-throw line with 10 seconds left.
Williams and Phil Booth each added 18 points for Cleveland (2-3). Williams also had 11 rebounds and four assists.
BJ Johnson led Sacramento (2-3) with 20 points and Brandon Ashley had 18 points and 12 rebounds.
PACERS 86, CLIPPERS 75
Alize Johnson had 25 points and 13 rebounds and DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell added 24 points and 10 rebounds to push Indiana past Los Angeles.
MiKyle McIntosh added 10 points for Indiana (1-4).
Oshae Brissett scored 18 points for Los Angeles (3-2). Cliff Alexander added 11 and Kaiser Gates 10.
TRAIL BLAZERS 99, BUCKS 84
Gary Trent Jr. scored 28 points and Jarnell Stokes added 19 on 7-of-9 shooting to help Portland beat Milwaukee.
Demetrius Jackson had 14 points, six rebounds and six assists, and Gian Clavell had 10 points for the Blazers (2-3).
Bonzie Colzon led the Bucks (2-3) with 14 points.
HAWKS 80, SPURS 72
Matt Mooney hit three 3-pointers and finished with 17 points, Nick Ward had 16 points and 13 rebounds in Atlanta’s victory over San Antonio.
Sedrick Barefield added 12 points, and Charles Brown and Jaylen Adams had 10 apiece for the Hawks (2-3).
Darius Morris led the Spurs (2-3) with 12 points. Thomas Robinson —the No. 5 overall pick in the 2012 draft who hasn’t appeared in an NBA regular-season game since the 2016-17 season— had 10 points and 11 rebounds.
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