The opening night of the NBA 2K24 Summer League in Las Vegas was supposed to be all about the pro debut of 2023 No. 1 draft pick Victor Wembanyama, whose San Antonio Spurs were playing the Charlotte Hornets and No. 2 draft pick Brandon Miller, a former Alabama All-American.
But before Wembanyama could even get on the court at the Thomas and Mack Center on Friday night, Houston Rockets forward Jabari Smith Jr. already was stealing the show.
In the game that preceded the Spurs-Hornets contest, the former Auburn standout tossed in a buzzer-beating 3-point shot to lift the Rockets to a 100-99 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.
Houston had an opportunity to win after Smith blocked an alley-oop dunk attempt by Ibou Badji.
After a timeout, the Rockets had 0.6 seconds to score. Smith caught an inbounds pass beyond the top of the key and heaved in a 28-footer to win the game.
Smith scored Houston’s final nine points as he finished with 33. Eighteen came in the third quarter. Smith scored 14 points at the free-throw line and had seven rebounds in the game.
The third player picked in the 2022 NBA Draft, Smith averaged 12.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.5 steals and 0.9 blocks while starting 79 games for Houston during his rookie season.
He’s back for a second Summer League tour after earning second-team recognition on the NBA’s All-Rookie team for the 2022-23 season.
Among other players from Alabama high schools and colleges in action on Friday night:
· Garrison Brooks (Auburn High) had nine points, three rebounds, two assists and one block in 15:45 on the floor in the New Orleans Pelicans’ 102-88 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
· Nate Darling (UAB) had 15 points, four rebounds, one assist and two steals in 27:11 of playing time in the Chicago Bulls’ 83-74 victory over the Toronto Raptors.
· Sharife Cooper (Auburn) had 27 points, three rebounds, one assist, one steal and two blocks in 27:03 on the floor in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 101-97 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.
· Noah Clowney (Alabama) had four points, seven rebounds, one assist and two steals in the Nets’ loss to the Cavaliers. In 19:06 of playing time in his pro debut, Clowney went 1-of-7 on 3-point shots.
· Charles Bediako (Alabama) had one point, four rebounds and one block in 4:37 of court time for the Spurs.
· Colby Jones (Mountain Brook) had 12 points, three rebounds and two steals in 29:46 on the court in the Sacramento Kings’ 80-76 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.
· Keon Ellis (Alabama) had 11 points, five rebounds, three assists and five steals in 25:33 of playing time in the Kings’ victory over the Hawks.