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The Houston Rockets have taken the NBA Summer League by storm.
The Rockets, led by No. 2 overall pick Jalen Green, produced back-to-back wins to start off its slate of games in Las Vegas. Houston enters its Thursday clash with the Toronto Raptors as one of seven 2-0 teams in the Summer League. The Philadelphia 76ers and Minnesota Timberwolves are both 1-0.
The Boston Celtics and Portland Trail Blazers can also create some separation in the standings if they pick up victories. Boston faces the more difficult matchup of the two, as it faces the Orlando Magic. Portland takes on an 0-2 Indiana Pacers team.
The full standings and stats from the Summer League can be found on the NBA’s official website.
Thursday Summer League Schedule
San Antonio vs. Charlotte (3 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
Chicago vs. Minnesota (4 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
Washington vs. Brooklyn (5 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
Indiana vs. Portland (6 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
Orlando vs. Boston (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Houston vs. Toronto (8 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
Philadelphia vs. Atlanta (9 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Phoenix vs. Denver (10 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
Green is one of three players to have played multiple Summer League games to average 24 points per game or better.
Jordan Nwora of the Milwaukee Bucks leads that list at 26 points per game. Immanuel Quickley from the New York Knicks sits at 24 PPG alongside Green. Desmond Bane produced 32 points in the Memphis Grizzlies’ lone game.
Green’s 25 points Tuesday allowed the Rockets to breeze past the Detroit Pistons 111-91.
What makes Houston so dangerous is it has received scoring from a handful of its top rookies. Josh Christopher and Alperen Sengun both put up 22 points to complement Green’s output in the showdown with Cade Cunningham and the Pistons.
In Houston’s first contest versus Evan Mobley and the Cleveland Cavaliers, all five players who were on the floor for 25 minutes or more found their way into double figures. Of course, this is a small sample size on which to judge the Rockets, but it is a promising development that Green and others have taken to each other so well in such a short time span.
Houston will face its growing pains when the regular season rolls around, but if its Summer League group generates confidence from winning in Las Vegas, it will help the players in their adjustment process.
On Thursday, Houston faces a Toronto Raptors team on the second leg of a back-to-back. The Raptors fell to the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday.
Houston will be challenged to contain the paint threat of Precious Achiuwa and limit Malachi Flynn’s production from the point. If the Rockets pass that defensive test and continue to score at a high rate, they could establish themselves as the favorite to win the Summer League.
Fellow 2-0 team Portland will try to keep pace with Houston through its defense after limiting the Los Angeles Clippers to 66 points Tuesday. The Blazers have one of the most intriguing Summer League stories in Emmanuel Mudiay, who is looking to make an NBA roster after spending parts of five seasons with Denver, New York and Utah.
The former first-round pick is playing alongside Michael Beasley and Kenneth Faried on one of the oldest Summer League rosters. Portland’s experience, plus the hunger of the older players to make NBA rosters, makes it an interesting contrast to Houston’s setup.
Boston is hoping to keep pace with the Rockets and Blazers by beating Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs and the Orlando Magic.
The Celtics sent most of their young players to Las Vegas. Aaron Nesmith and Payton Pritchard combined for 54 points in Tuesday’s win over Denver. If Pritchard, Nesmith and Carsen Edwards win the scoring duel with Anthony and Suggs by playing some tight defense, the Celtics could remain atop the standings at 3-0.
Orlando scored 175 points over its first two games, but its defense looked suspect in its second matchup with Cleveland, as it conceded 94 points.