With Zion Williamson and Ja Morant out with injuries and R.J. Barrett struggling, the opportunity has presented itself for lesser-known players to get noticed during Las Vegas Summer League.
Chris Clemons, an undrafted rookie from Campbell, has made an impact. In a loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday, he scored 25 points on 9-for-20 shooting , made 7 of 13 3-pointers and launched his muscular 5-foot-9 frame for an alley-oop. The next day, he scored 22 points and made 5 of 11 3-pointers in a loss to Portland.
He ranked third overall in Las Vegas scoring after Sunday’s games — not bad for someone who wasn’t even invited to the draft combine.
“I know I can play with these guys at this level,” Clemons said.
Clemons achieved notoriety for his college scoring, leading the nation with 30 points per game this past season. He tied for the scoring title and won MVP honors at the Portsmouth Invitational in April, then earned an invitation to the G League Select Camp in Chicago in May. He was hopeful of moving on from there to the draft combine, though the invite didn’t arrive and no call came on draft night either.
So Clemons’ next audition — not just for the Rockets, but for all 30 teams since they’re all watching in Vegas — is coming in summer league.
Clemons’ scoring ability is not in doubt, but what likely caught some eyeballs was his explosiveness for an alley-oop off an inbounds back-door pass, his defensive ability with six steals in the first two games and committing only five turnovers in 49 minutes. He also hasn’t been afraid to mix it up defensively, even when in the paint against much bigger guys.
“I think everybody knows I can score,” he said. “I need to show them the other facets of my game.”
While Clemons’ profile is rising, many better-known players have been quiet. Williamson, the No. 1 overall pick for the New Orleans Pelicans, is out for Summer League with a bruised left knee. He scored 11 points in nine minutes against New York, but took a knee-to-knee hit in the first half and didn’t play after the break.
Morant, the No. 2 overall pick for the Memphis Grizzlies, isn’t playing in Summer League after having knee surgery. Barrett, the No. 3 overall selection has played, but not well, for the New York Knicks. He averaged 9.0 points and shot 21 percent from the field in his first two games.
The Thunder escaped after blowing a huge lead on Monday.
Oklahoma City (1-1) led by 31 in the second quarter and took a 52-26 halftime lead. The 76ers chipped away in the second half and outscored Oklahoma City 28-13 in the third quarter to trail 65-54 at the end of the period.
Oklahoma City led 80-79 with 14.3 seconds left when Kevin Hervey made a free throw to push the Thunder’s lead to two. Philadelphia’s Matisse Thybulle made a layup to tie the game with 10.6 seconds to go, leading to overtime.
Oklahoma City’s Luguentz Dort made a layup in the first 10 seconds of overtime for the only field goal of the two-minute extra period.
Philadelphia (1-2) could have taken the lead late in overtime, but Jalen Jones missed a 3-pointer and Oklahoma City grabbed the rebound. Oklahoma City’s Jawun Evans made the first of two free throws with 3.9 seconds left. Philadelphia’s P.J. Dozier missed a deep three at the buzzer that would have forced a second extra period.
KINGS 105, MAVERICKS 101
Milton Doyle scored 22 points and Kyle Guy added 19 to help the Kings rally after trailing by 15 points in the first half and 13 points in the third quarter.
Hollis Thompson and Semaj Christon both scored 15 points for Sacramento (2-0), which shot 50.6 percent from the field.
Cameron Payne scored 32 points for the Mavericks. He made 7 of 12 3-pointers and 7 of 7 free throws. Josh Reaves scored 18 points and Antonius Cleveland added 14 for the Mavericks (2-1).
It was a long game that included 32 fouls by the Mavericks and 30 by the Kings. Dallas made 23 of 33 free throws and Sacramento made 18 of 30.
PISTONS 102, PACERS 84
Matt Costello scored 20 points to help the Pistons remain unbeaten in Las Vegas.
Costello made 6 of 7 shots and had eight rebounds. The 6-foot-10 power forward went undrafted out of Michigan State in 2016 and was a two-way player for the San Antonio Spurs in 2017-18.
Jarrod Uthoff scored 17 points and Bruce Brown added 14 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for Detroit (3-0).
The Pistons shot 50.8 percent from the field and made 25 of 35 free throws. They took control by outscoring the Pacers 30-17 in the second quarter to go up 46-35 at halftime. Detroit’s largest lead was 24 points in the fourth quarter.
Aaron Holiday scored 20 points and Alize Johnson added 15 for the Pacers. The Pacers shot just 36.4 percent from the field and made 5 of 24 3-pointers.
NETS 88, WIZARDS 85
Dzanan Musa blocked an attempt at the tying 3-pointer at the buzzer, and Brooklyn held on over Washington.
Musa had missed a free throw at the other end that would have given the Nets a four-point lead.
Josh Gray scored 19 points, Amida Brimah scored 14 and Nicolas Claxton added 12 for Brooklyn (2-1). Musa had eight points, six rebounds and five assists.
Rui Hachimura, the No. 9 pick in last month’s draft, had 19 points and seven rebounds for Washington. Troy Brown Jr. had 16 points and nine rebounds and Troy Caupain added 15 points for the Wizards.
Washington (1-1) led 40-33 at halftime, but the Nets outscored the Wizards 34-22 in the third quarter.
SPURS 93, RAPTORS 90
Lonnie Walker IV scored 32 points, and the Spurs held on after squandering most of a 26-point second-half lead.
Toronto trailed 83-59 at the end of the third quarter before outscoring the Spurs 31-10 in the fourth.
Walker, the 18th pick in the 2018 draft, made 12 of 23 shots and had six rebounds. Drew Eubanks scored 19 points and Thomas Robinson added 14 for the Spurs (1-1), who shot 51.4 percent from the field. San Antonio was especially tough in close, making 32 of 52 shots inside the 3-point arc.
Jordan Loyd had 27 points and seven assists for the Raptors, but he made just 8 of 24 shots. Chris Boucher added 24 points and 12 rebounds for Toronto.
CELTICS 89, CAVALIERS 72
Rookie guard Carsen Edwards scored 14 points and Tacko Fall added 12 to help the Celtics beat the Cavaliers.
Edwards made 6 of 10 shots in 20 minutes for Boston (2-0).
Fall, a 7-foot-7 undrafted rookie from Central Florida, made all five of his shots from the field and made both of his free throws in 11 minutes. He blocked one shot, but altered or prevented several others.
The Celtics made 46.8 percent of their shots in the win.
Dylan Windler scored 15 points and Naz Mitrou-Long scored 13 for the Cavaliers (1-2). Cleveland shot 33 percent from the floor.
TIMBERWOLVES 100, BUCKS 91
Mitchell Creek scored 18 points and the Timberwolves used a late 8-0 run to turn back the Bucks.
Six other players reached double figures for Minnesota (3-0), which had a big lead until Milwaukee used a 12-0 run to close within one midway through the fourth quarter. Kelan Martin added 15 points and Jordan McLaughlin 13. Martin also had nine assists.
Elijah Bryan made 11 of 15 shots, going 5 of 7 from 3-point range, and scored 31 points for the Bucks (1-2).
PELICANS 109, BULLS 72
Jaxson Hayes and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, New Orleans’ first-round draft picks overshadowed by overall No. 1 pick Zion Williamson, had impressive Summer League debuts in the win over Chicago.
Hayes, the No. 8 pick, had 28 points on 10-for-15 shooting and a show-stopping dunk. Alexander-Walker, the 17th pick, scored 23 points, making 9 of 16 shots, including three 3-pointers, with eight assists.
Marcos Louzada Silva, a second-round selection for the Pelicans (2-1), also had a strong first game with 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting. The three players were acquired in draft-night trades and were not eligible to play in earlier games. Williamson bruised a knee in his first game on Friday and will be held out the rest of Summer League.
Another first-round pick, Coby White, led Chicago (1-2) with 25 points.
CHINA 84, HORNETS 80
Zhou Qi scored 17 points and Zhao Jiwei made two free throws with two seconds left as China shocked the Hornets.
A heavy underdog, China (1-2) took the lead at the end of the first quarter and was up by 10 entering the fourth quarter. In losing their first two games, the Chinese only led a total of 122 seconds.
Guo Ailun added 12 points but missed two late free throws. Charlotte then had a wide-open lob on an out-of-bounds play but misfired on the pass and Zhao recovered the loose ball.
Arnoldas Kulboka led the Hornets (1-2) with 18 points and Joe Chealey had 16.
WARRIORS 88, LAKERS 80
Jordan Poole scored 23 points and the Warriors outscored the Lakers 29-13 in the second quarter to take control.
Jacob Evans added 12 points, eight assists and five rebounds for Golden State (2-1).
Jordan Caroline led the Lakers (0-3) with 27 points, going 12 for 12 from the foul line. Nick Perkins added 15 and Codi Miller-McIntyre and Devontae Cacok both had 10 rebounds and Cacok scored 10 points.
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AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.