If you watch enough basketball in Las Vegas odd things are bound to happen. Maybe it's the National Anthem being performed by a former Vegas show girl being accompanied by a drummer or maybe it's an referee dressed as Elvis Presley.
One of those things actually happened today. Use your imagination.
Another thing that happened today, about 15 feet in front of where I was sitting at the baseline media table, was of the more gruesome variety.
Denver Nuggets center Brian Butch went up for a possible tip-in when his left knee simple gave out. There was no contact on the play which you can see here at about the 50 second mark (warning: Not Safe For Weak Stomach). Butch immediately started writhing on the ground and yelling in pain which in the small and silent gym was not a pleasant experience. From my vantage, which was far too close for comfort, his knee had a very visible dent where the knee cap should be.
He was eventually taken off by stretcher and gave the crowd a fist pump on his way out. It was later reported that Butch suffered (and in this case that word is an understatement) a dislocated patella tendon. After being evaluated at a local hospital he will return to Denver for additional treatment.
If that was the dark side of the day, this next anecdote should cheer you up a bit.
Playing for the Dallas Mavericks this summer is 7 foot 4 inch Moussa Seck. I'd never heard of Seck before but at soon as he stepped on the court he was hard to miss. The dwarfed the otherwise large men and comically enough his giant body is topped by a very small head.
He only played six minutes where he seemed to move fairly well, grabbing 3 rebounds, but he teammates and coach clearly aren't sold on his very raw talent. At one point an opposing guard was switched on to him in the post and despite having a 14-inch height advantage his teammates didn't even look to pass him the ball.
Maybe you had to be there to appreciate the comedy of the moment. Maybe the earlier Butch incident simply made the sight of a very tall man with a small head seem more amusing than it really was.
Game 1: Toronto 103 - Phoenix 69
The score differential doesn't fully explain how completely dominant the Raptors where in this game. Their roster is stacked with NBA caliber player along with plenty of really big big men and solid guards to handle the ball. The Raptors biggest advantage however, is the wing duo of Sonny Weems and DeMar DeRozan.
The Suns had no chance of stopping those two dynamic players with the likes of Matt Janning and Taylor Griffin.
The 2009 lottery pick for the Suns, Earl Clark, had yet another disappointing performance which elicited this warning from his coach as reported by SB Nation Arizona:
"I don't really care about him making shots right now. I just want him to play hard and make other people better," Suns coach Dan Majerle told SB Nation Arizona after the game before issuing this warning, "He's not doing that right now, but he's got to figure it out or he'll find himself riding the pine again."
Game 2: Denver 92 - Los Angeles Lakers 74
The quality combo of Coby Karl and Ty Lawson combined for 30 points and did a fantastic job controlling the game. Denver is now 2-0 in Vegas.
The surprise player of the game was Laker center Derrick Caracter. A powerful and active post player, Caracter displayed energy and toughness in the paint as evidenced by his 12 rebounds and 17 points. Caracter was drafted 58th by the Lakers.
Game 3: Detroit 89 - Golden State 69
A fairly forgettable game, the Pistons were lead by second year small man Austin Daye. What Daye lacks in muscle and size he makes up for in skill. With 20 points he was the class of the team. Sorry Pistons and Georgetown fans, Greg Monroe did nothing to write home (or here) about.
The Warriors got solid production from Reggie Williams who had 16 points but only connected on 4 of his 14 attempts.
Game 4: Houston 87 - Dallas 78
The Rockets weren't able to get a repeat performance from Patrick Patterson who was very sharp in his first game but much less so today. They did get another fantastic showing from one of the early candidates for Summer League MVP, Jermaine Taylor.
Taylor is a powerful shooting guard with silky smooth touch. 21 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists for him.
Dallas young flashy stud Roddy Beaubois really put on a show with his speed and long arms which he somehow has combined into a deadly combination of scoring perfection. 28 points, 4 assists and 4 rebounds for this up-and-coming point guard from France.
SB Nation's Mavericks blog Mavs Money Ball had this to say about Beaubois:
Coach Carlisle was commenting on what's expected of Roddy in the Summer League and going forward. Rick said the emphasis is getting more experience at the point guard position and focusing on facilitating and building his leadership abilities. He also commented that Roddy needs to stay aggressive and force the second defender to commit and make the right decision. Roddy responded, it was a night and day performance for Beaubois in game 2. He made the right decisions and played with much better poise. His court vision was excellent and if he was playing with NBA-caliber talent, he would have had a lot more assists. It was good to see that he continued to shoot with confidence after a sluggish game one, he showed excellent diversity with shooting versus attacking the lane. It was a great game for Beaubois.