The 2019 Las Vegas Summer League has been all but kind to the Houston Rockets. Following an embarrassing showing against the Dallas Mavericks, the Rockets dropped their second consecutive game in a 97-87 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, Sunday night in the Cox Pavillion in Las Vegas.
While the Rockets are now 0-2 in the mid-summer tourney, their record does not do justice to how well several individual players have played during the losing streak.
Isaiah Hartenstein’s time to shine:
Of all the players who have made an impact through the first two games, it comes to no surprise that Isaiah Hartenstein’s name is at the top of the list. In the loss against the Trail Blazers, Hartenstein was by far the best player on the court for the Rockets for the second consecutive night. He finished with 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 steals, while shooting 7-for-13 from the field.
His performance Sunday night marked the second straight game the young center hit the 20-point milestone after scoring 20 points (7-15 FG, 1-5 3Pt) in Saturday’s 113-81 loss to the Mavericks. In addition to his scoring, Hartenstein has proved he is a solid rebounder, averaging 9.5 rebounds the past two games.
With the Rockets in search of a primary backup to Clint Capela, it is safe to say that Hartenstein has a shot at earning some minutes. He has played extremely hard on both ends and is a consistent ball of energy while on the court.
Nate Robinson 2.0:
Colin Connors posed the question the best, “Is Chris Clemons Nate Robinson reincarnate?” While it is still too early to tell what Clemons can do on a real NBA floor, the answer right now looks like yes.
An explosive 5’9 guard similar to Robinson, Clemons is proving how he became the third-leading scorer in NCAA history with his high-flying abilities and skills set to hit from deep. In his first two games of the Summer League, Clemons is currently averaging 22.0 points on 42.3 percent shooting from behind the arc.
Although he struggled a bit with his shot against the Trail Blazers (4-13 from deep), Clemons had a tremendous Summer League debut against the Mavericks. Saturday night, he recorded a game-high 25 points and shot a blazing 7-for-13 from behind the arc.
While he is fun to watch on offense, what makes Clemons impressive has been his effort on the defensive end. As an undersized guard, multiple opponents have attacked him, but Clemons has yet to back down from the challenge. Despite his small stature occasionally being taken advantage of, the effort is there, and Clemons stopped several otherwise easy buckets in the paint.
The disappointment from Gary Clark:
As one of the few players entering the Summer League with real NBA experience, Gary Clark was expected to be among the top players in Las Vegas. However, after averaging 8.0 points, 2.5 rebounds, and shooting 30 percent from the field so far, it is safe to say that Clark has played well below expectations.
He scored 11 points in the loss to Blazers and shot a subpar 4-for-12 from the field. While his stats from Sunday night may look bleak, his performance against Portland was a bit of a bounce-back from the awful showing he displayed against the Mavericks.
In the blowout loss, Clark struggled heavily recording 5 points, 2 rebounds, and picked up 5 personal fouls in 26 minutes. Known for his ability to knock down an open three, Clark has yet to find his shot in Vegas, shooting 26 percent from behind the arc through the first two games.
Moving forward, it would be nice to see Clark get back to the player that made him a reliable role player in Houston this past season. A three-and-D prospect who can create a spark, Clark must improve his game in order to have a big role in Houston next season.
Rockets’ rebounding woes continue in Vegas:
Throughout the 2019 season, rebounding was one of the main problems for the Rockets. They ranked second to last in defensive rebounding (31.9 rebs) and gave up an average 13.7 second-chance point throughout the season. Sadly, Houston’s rebounding woes have followed them to the Las Vegas Summer League.
Houston has been outrebounded in each of their Summer League contests and is one of the primary reasons for their 0-2 hole. Not sure if it’s the result of the lack of effort, but the only solid rebounder for the Rockets thus far has been big man, Isaiah Hartenstein. The 2019 G-League Finals MVP has been the only player to record double-digit figures in rebounding, with 13 boards in the loss to the Mavericks.
If anyone besides Hartenstein could step up in the rebounding department, perhaps the Rockets would find themselves on the right side of the final score in Vegas.
With a day off to regroup as a team, the Houston Rockets will return back to action Tuesday night, as the face off against the Sacramento Kings in the Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas. Tip-off is slated for 9:00 PM CST.