The Miami Heat wrapped up the first leg of its summer league schedule at the California Classic on Thursday afternoon by beating the hometown Sacramento Kings 86-76 at the Golden 1 Center.
Miami will play its next game Saturday at 5 p.m. against the New Orleans Pelicans in Las Vegas.
Here are a handful of takeaways from Thursday’s victory, which left Miami with a 2-1 record in the tournament:
▪ Despite facing a Kings summer league roster featuring four first round picks (2017 first round pick De’Aaron Fox sat out Thursday’s game), the Heat more than held its own on the defensive end again forcing 21 turnovers that led to 22 points.
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“Anytime you can get stops and play off misses or play off turnovers… that always helps your offense,” Heat summer league coach Eric Glass said. “It always makes things easier. If you’re taking the ball out of the net, they can get their defense set. It’s a little bit tougher to score. You know us. We hang our hat on defense. We’re going to grind games out. It’s where we take our pride.”
Derrick Jones Jr. led the charge against forward Marvin Bagley III, the No. 2 overall pick in last month’s draft. Bagley scored only 1 point (he was 0 for 2 from the field) and grabbed only three rebounds in 30 minutes.
“I told my coaches whenever I can guard the best player that’s what I want to do,” Jones Jr. said. “He was the No. 2 draft pick so what better to guard him. That was the best matchup on their team for me. I took it well.”
Said Glass: “DJ's evaluation is on the defensive end. [He took] the challenge against Bagley and just wiped him out. Three straight games he's guarded the best player all three games and he's really, really taken the challenge on these guys.”
Center Harry Giles, taken 20th in last year’s draft but didn’t play at all of last season because of injury, had 11 points and 12 rebounds in 28 minutes. He also had seven turnovers with Bam Adebayo forcing the majority of those with his defensive pressure.
Kings guard Justin Jackson, taken a pick after the Heat’s Bam Adebayo, had a solid day, scoring 26 points on 9 of 17 shooting.
▪ Jones Jr., who has stood out for the Heat in summer league play since being signed to the 15-man roster over the weekend, led the Heat in scoring for the third game in a row with 19 points on 7 of 14 shooting. He also had seven rebounds, two assists and two blocks in nearly 33 minutes of work.
He finished 0 for 3 from three-point range on Thursday and finished 5 of 12 for the tournament from beyond the arc. One problem for Jones Jr. thus far has been free throw shooting. He went 5 of 10 in Thursday's game and 15 of 29 from the line for the tournament.
“Make more free throws,” Jones Jr. said of what his focus will be in Las Vegas. “I had an ok game. It wasn’t what I expected. I could have played a little bit better defense. I kept my man in front of me when I was guarding the wing. There’s a bunch of things that I could have done [better].”
▪ Adebayo, who has been challenged by the Heat’s coaching staff to lead the summer league in rebounds, grabbed nine boards on Thursday (he had 34 rebounds total to lead the tournament) and finished with 14 points in 31 minutes. Adebayo shot 11 of 32 from the field (34.3 percent) for the tournament.
“He's pissed I took him out with 30 seconds [left] because he wanted another rebound,” Glass said. “I like that. He didn't get as many offensive rebounds today, but they have those two big guys inside who made it tough on him. I thought Bam had some nice rebounds. He boxes out, rebounds in traffic, rebounds with two hands and he's battling down there. He has some big guys who are playing against him every game and he’s taking ownership of that paint.”
▪ After struggling to find the bottom of the net in the Heat’s first two summer league games (2 of 18 from the field, 1 of 14 from three-point range), point guard Derrick Walton Jr. hit his first two shots on Thursday (a pair of threes).
But he finished 3 of 9 and shot a ghastly 5 of 27 (18.5 percent) from the field for the tournament including 3 of 18 from three-point range. He did have seven assists and no turnovers Thursday and finished with 18 assists and only four turnovers in the Heat’s first three summer league games.
▪ Former Michigan forward Duncan Robinson, who impressed with 19 points in Tuesday’s win over the Lakers and is considered a strong candidate to receive a two-way offer from the Heat, made four more three-pointers on Thursday and finished with 12 points.
“I wanted him to shoot about six or seven more [threes],” Glass said. “The ball movement has been better. We talked about it after the last game. The ball has to find him. I don’t like him shot-faking. He passed up two more opportunities he could have had to shoot it. He’s just getting comfortable with our system, what's a good shot for us, what's a bad shot. It's different than college. He played all these years in college thinking one way. So there's a little bit of a habit. But he's gotten better and he's letting it fly. That's what we want to see.”