I-95 Bridgeport Battle Recap
A group of NBA players put on a solid show in Connecticut.
While we were up in New Haven covering the National Prep Showcase in New Haven, a tweet from Nolan Smith came across my Twitter feed mentioning some sort of Rudy Gay charity game in Bridgeport, CT. Naturally like any hoophead would, I sent out as many texts and emails as I could to find out who was running the show in order to make sure we could get in the building. A 30-minute zoom down I-95 after watching Ricardo Ledo put 37 on La Jolla Prep and we were in the building.
With a billed lineup loaded with emerging young players in the league, it was looking like the Bridgeport Battle could be one of the more live games of the lockout. Unfortunately, John Wall, Rudy Gay, DeMarcus Cousins, Jeff Green and Michael Beasley couldn’t make it and even though they were in the building with multiple cameras, CityLeagueHoops got shut out so there isn’t much for y’all in terms of video.
Once we got everything situated and the action tipped, the game immediately had a bit of a laissez faire feel to it. The crowd was hyped, but it was evident (and understandable, for that matter) that the players weren’t going to be going in like it was Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Scoring was of a premium, based on the 171-169 score that remained on the board as the buzzer expired. The game wasn’t played without excitement, though. Even though they were playing for half speed for the bast majority of the contest, both teams turned it on for the final few minutes and truly gave the fans a show. Both went hard towards the climax, ending with a Travis Leslie oop at the buzzer to give Team Connecticut the dub.
Josh Selby, 6-2, SG/PG, Memphis Grizzlies, 48 points: The man who has been at virtually every lockout game imaginable made it to Bridgeport to rep Team DC and wound up dropping 48 points. Going to the rim on just about everyone, Selby threw down a number of explosive dunks and converted on acrobatic takes to the cup. Baltimore’s finest had 48 on the board with about five minutes left in the game, but couldn’t get an easy bucket to hit that 50 cent piece.
Tyreke Evans, 6-6, PG/SG, Sacramento Kings, 38 points: Looking bigger than he did at season’s end, ‘Reke was still able to toy with opponents and show off the filthy handle that has made him a must-see in these exhibition games. The effortless, falling away jumpers that he’s been dropping on the regular since he was a freshman at American Christian were the staple of his scoring barrage. Throw in a few bangs on the break and some nifty passes, you have the dominant performance that ‘Reke put on.
Sam Young, 6-6, SF, Memphis Grizzlies, 38 points: Expanding his role of a defensive stopper, Young shocked me with his new and improved ability to handle the rock. You don’t usually see him busting out any crossovers during the NBA season for the Grizz, but he had no problem doing it when the lights came on in Bridgeport. Always known as a ridiculously hard worker, it appears that Sam has carried over that same mentality to the League after being a under-recruited high school player and steal of the 2009 NBA Draft.
Travis Leslie, 6-5, SF, LA Clippers, 25 points: As far as highlights were concerned, there wasn’t anyone better than the former Georgia high flyer. He brought the crowd to its feet with a few ridiculous windmills and oops that he caught on the break. After catching mad heat for bouncing to the League after his junior year (many felt he would have been better off sticking around for another season), he appears to have used that criticism to fuel his desire to strengthen his perimeter game…which looked much improved from his days in Athens.
Wesley Matthews, 6-5, SG, Portland TrailBlazers, 35 points: Very much like Sam Young, Matthews showed off that he’s got a lot more skill and flash to his game than people give him credit for. Portland’s $34 million man was automatic from beyond the 3-point arc and showed off some of the ball handling skills that he displayed early in his career at Marquette. It was refreshing to see the media and fans truly appreciate the high skill level that Wes brings to the court night in and night out.
Trey Thompkins, 6-10, PF, LA Clippers: While we weren’t able to get the exact numbers for Thompkins, he made a resounding impact on the game with his ability to stretch the D and bomb from the NBA 3-point arc. Equally as impressive as Thompkins’ ability to stroke it from deep was the fact that he looks to have lost at least 20 pounds since his playing days at UGA. If the rookie can keep it up and continue to improve, there’s no reason why he can’t be a better version of Brian Cook (in his prime) down the line for the Clip Show.