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Lonzo fever continues in Vegas Summer League

By Newsletter staff
VSiN.com

lonzoball
Lonzo Ball had his second triple-double of the week on Thursday with 16 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.
© USA Today Sports Images

Lonzo leads our VSiN City newsletter again with another triple double. Full Las Vegas Summer League B-Ball coverage plus…Venus back in championship orbit…the Cubs acquire Quintana…and a wild AL wild-card race.

NBA Summer League: Lonzo Ball leads Lakers into Elite 8
Pre-event favorite the Los Angeles Lakers have started playing more like the class of the collection as evidenced by their 94-83 win Thursday night over #1 tournament seed Cleveland. 

#15 seed LA Lakers (plus 2) 94, #1 seed Cleveland 83

  • Two-point shooting: Lakers 49%, Cavaliers 41%
  • Three-point shooting: Lakers 10/30, Cavaliers 1/13

Lonzo Ball had his second triple-double of the week with 16 points (but on a disappointing 6 of 20 shooting), 12 assists (many delicate works of art), and 10 rebounds (a real knack for sniffing out the ball off the defensive glass). He did turn the ball over seven times though, dealing with a tougher defense tonight than he saw Wednesday from the Sixers. 

The key to the victory was much better defense from the Lakers. This was a fast-paced game, with the highest possession counts of the entire Sweet 16 round. You can see above they held the Cavs to just 41% inside the arc, while not offering up many clean looks outside.  

For Ball, further confirmation that his court vision and passing touch are otherworldly for a 19-year old. But his three-point shooting is still way off at the NBA distance (2 of 10 to continue his slump), and he went back to NOT drawing fouls on penetration after getting to the line Wednesday (just 2 of 2 from the charity stripe Thursday). 

Work to do…but the sky’s still the limit. 

Let’s see what’s still ahead this weekend for Ball and the Lakers…

NBA Summer League: Who joined the Lakers in the quarterfinals?
The expanded baseball All-Star Break gives us a chance to provide bonus NBA coverage. Here are capsule briefs from Thursday’s Sweet 16 action in this entertaining hoops showcase. 

#8 San Antonio (-3.5) beat #24 New Orleans 86-81
Bryn Forbes scored 29 points in 33 minutes as he continued his stellar week. Forbes scored 31 points in San Antonio’s earlier win over Boston. San Antonio only turned the ball over six times (a very low total for this event), and made 10 treys. 

#7 Brooklyn (-2.5) beat #23 Denver 85-74
A true team effort as 10 different Nets played at least 15 minutes each, while the team shot 55% on two-pointers and won the rebound battle 51-38. Brooklyn was up 19 entering the fourth quarter before garbage time made it closer. 

#6 Boston (-3.5) beat #22 Golden State 93-69
You see that score, and you assume #3 draft pick Jayson Tatum had a big game. He didn’t play! Boston outshot Golden State 56% to 30% on two-pointers, and was a stellar 10 of 19 from three-point land (during a week where poor long-range shooting was the norm across the field). Boston won rebounding 46-34. That’s a great indicator stat for freshness and effort. Bye teams who are trying to get a result here are likely to win that stat. The Celtics remain undefeated in Vegas at 4-0.

#12 Miami (plus 2.5) upset the #5 LA Clippers (-2.5) 91-84
Okaro White scored 23 points in 32 minutes, Justin Robinson scored 22 points in 26 minutes off the bench, and Gian Clavell scored 20 points in 27 minutes off the bench to help the Heat earn the first upset of the day. The Clippers did win rebounding 44-36 with fresher legs. Miami was 15 of 37 on treys, (with those three high scorers nailing 12 of 25), which put up a scoreboard number the Clips couldn’t reach. Miami is 4-1 in Las Vegas, with their only loss coming to the potent Mavericks. 

#4 Memphis (-1.5) beat #13 Phoenix 102-98
Wayne Selden Jr. scored 33 points in 33 minutes, and the Grizzlies outrebounded the Suns 39-29 in a high scoring shootout. Memphis is a perfect 4-0 in Las Vegas. Phoenix was a pre-league co-favorite at the Westgate with the Lakers. But, they lost three of their five outings. 

#3 Dallas (-4.5) beat #19 Sacramento 83-76
Dennis Smith Jr. scored 25 points in 27 minutes, as he continues to be a big summer story. Dallas won the Orlando summer league, and is an undefeated 4-0 so far in Las Vegas. Big edge today came in the form of turnovers (11-16) and made free throws (21-15). Note that neither Frank Mason III nor Buddy Hield played for the Kings. 

#16 Portland (plus 4) upset #1 Toronto 91-85
We mentioned yesterday that Toronto probably wasn’t a true #1 given their schedule strength in the event. Portland won this one from long range, shooting 47% on treys (8 of 17) while the Raptors were just 20% (7 of 35, which means a lot of virtual turnovers on misses)

Yes, summer league NBA can be an acquired taste for casual sports fans. But, it has to be said that the eight remaining teams feature stellar athletes playing quality basketball in games they care about. Great stuff ahead based on the quality of winning team performances in the Sweet 16.

Thursday’s winners get Friday off (a consolation day for prior losers). After that rest break…

Saturday’s Quarterfinals
#8 San Antonio vs. #16 Portland
#12 Miami vs. #4 Memphis
#6 Boston vs. #3 Dallas (might feel like a championship game!)
#7 Brooklyn vs. #15 LA Lakers 

The Spurs, Heat, Celtics and Lakers are playing better than their seeds would suggest. Heck Dallas is too even though they came in at #3. It’s tough to seed brackets like this after 24 teams play only three games. You can’t say for sure who the best team is at the moment. 

Saturday’s winners play Sunday in the semifinals. The championship game will be must-see TV for basketball lovers Monday night. 

Oh…we thought it would be fun to go back and look at the original futures prices at the Westgate for the Summer League Elite Eight.

Pre-LVSL Futures Prices
LA Lakers: 6/1
San Antonio: 9/1
Boston: 10/1
Dallas: 15/1
Portland: 20/1
Brooklyn: 20/1
Miami: 30/1
Memphis: 50/1

Be sure to watch VSiN programming through the weekend for game day pointspreads and results on “My Guys in the Desert” and in “The Green Zone.” 

Wimbledon: Venus Williams through to Ladies’ Finals, Men’s Semi’s Friday
Not much suspense in the Ladies semifinals Thursday in England. Heavy favorite Garbine Muguruza only lost two games while squashing an inexperienced opponent. Venus Williams scored a minor upset, but in dominating fashion over Britain's own (by way of Australia) Johanna Konta

Thursday’s Women’s Semifinals

  • Garbine Muguruza (-240) beat Magdalena Rybarikova 6-1, 6-1
  • Venus Williams (even) beat Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-2

The early offshore lines for Saturday’s final range between pick-em and Muguruza -120 (Williams even), with the Over/Under at 23 games. ESPN’s announcers have been consistently critical of the betting markets through the fortnight for underrating Venus’s chances to lift the trophy again. To this point, they’ve had a better sense of her current form than the markets. This will be the NINTH trip to the Wimbledon finals for the 37-year old Williams.

Friday’s Men’s Semifinals

  • Roger Federer (-700) vs. Tomas Berdych (plus 450) (over/under 35 games)
  • Marin Cilic (-300) vs. Sam Querrey (plus 240) (over/under 42.5 games)

Betfair Exchange Odds to Win Wimbledon

  • Federer -275
  • Cilic plus 400
  • Berdych plus 1400
  • Querrey plus 2200

Hope you tennis fans enjoy “Breakfast at Wimbledon” all weekend! 

MLB: Cubs trade for White Sox ace starter Quintana 
Big baseball news broke bright and early Thursday when it was announced that the Chicago Cubs had traded four prospects to the Chicago White Sox for highly sought-after southpaw starting pitcher Carlos Quintana. 

The Major League rumor mill had hinted Houston was very interested in acquiring Quintana to shore up its rotation. The Cubs made a preemptive offer the rebuilding White Sox couldn’t refuse, and positioned themselves to make a very serious run at the Milwaukee Brewers atop the NL Central.

Futures prices didn’t react much…because the Cubs had already been priced near perfection on the assumption they would get things together in their weak division. And, the Dodgers strengths atop the futures heap in the NL are so ever-present (barring injuries), that the Cubs acquiring Quintana didn’t dampen LAD’s chances.

Quintana is no doubt a star pitcher, posting quality stats through his short career in what has been the superior American League. But, his home run rate is up this season to 1.2 per nine innings, as his ERA has floated up to 4.49 after three straight years below 3.50. 

Let’s see how Quintana’s 2017 “three true outcome” stats (strikeout rate, walk rate, home runs allowed per nine innings) fit in with the rest of the Cubs starting pitchers. (We’ll also include xFIP, which is a representation of “fielding independent pitching” that runs along the same scale as ERA.)

Cubs Starting Pitchers (ranked in order of xFIP)

  • Jon Lester: 24.1% K’s, 8.1% walks, 1.3 HR/9, 3.74 xFIP
  • Jake Arrieta: 23.5% K’s, 8.1% walks, 1.2 HR/9, 3.98 xFIP
  • Kyle Hendricks: 20.2% K’s, 8.3% walks, 1.3 HR/9, 4.09 xFIP 
  • Carlos Quintana: 24.6% K’s, 9.0% walks, 1.2 HR/9, 4.13 xFIP
  • John Lackey: 20.1% K’s, 7.0 % walks, 2.2 HR/9, 4.54 xFIP
  • Eddie Butler: 13.0% K’s, 11.7% walks, 0.7 HR/9, 5.56 xFIP

(Note that Mike Montgomery has been in the rotation recently. But his ERA in six starts is 5.40, compared to 2.50 in 19 appearances as a reliever. He’s likely to head back to the bullpen after his Friday start in Baltimore with the pending returns of Hendricks and Lackey from the Disabled List.)

If you’ve been disappointed with Jake Arrieta this season…Quintana has basically been pitching at the same level. Both may have been impacted by the juiced ball in a way that could limit hopes for a return to peak form of the past. But, those K-rates tell you each hurler can impose his will on imposing hitters much of the time. And, dropping your fifth best prior starter from the rotation to include Quintana is obviously a meaningful upgrade going forward. 

Quintana is currently scheduled to make his Cubs debut Sunday in Baltimore. Come playoff time, the trio of Arrieta, Quintana, and Lester in any order will give the Cubs a fighting chance to return to the Fall Classic. 

MLB: Hated rivals Yankees and Red Sox start “second half” head-to-head
We had planned on providing a game-by-game pitching preview for the huge Yankees/Red Sox series that helps ignite the “second half” of the season after the All-Star Break. But, as of press time late Thursday evening, the Yankees still hadn’t named their likely starters. 

Here’s a quick look at the “three true outcome” stats for Boston’s projected starters. 

  • Drew Pomeranz: 25.5% K’s, 8.3% walks, 1.1 HR/9, 3.68 xFIP
  • Chris Sale: 35.9% K’s, 4.4% walks, 0.5 HR/9, 2.66 xFIP
  • David Price: 21.9% K’s, 8.3% walks, 1.2 HR/9, 4.56 xFIP

That trio plus Rick Porcello would get the bulk of postseason innings. You can be sure that the Red Sox will treat this weekend series with postseason intensity.

If analytics websites are correct that Boston and Cleveland are likely to surge toward divisional titles to join Houston in the main AL brackets, then the crowded Wildcard race led by the Yankees is going to be the main story in the league for the next several weeks. Here are the current Wildcard standings…

AL Wildcard Standings (top two qualify for a play-in game)

  • NY Yankees 45-41
  • Tampa Bay 47-43 (.001 behind in win percentage)
  • Minnesota 45-43 (1 game out of final spot)
  • Kansas City 44-43 (1.5 games out of final spot)
  • LA Angels 45-47 (3 games out of final spot)
  • Texas 43-45 (3 games out of final spot)
  • Seattle 43-47 (4 games out of final spot)
  • Baltimore 42-46 (4 games out of final spot)

Squaring off this weekend:

  • Texas at Kansas City
  • Tampa Bay at LA Angels

Others:

  • Minnesota at Houston
  • Seattle at the Chicago White Sox
  • Baltimore hosts the Chicago Cubs in the only Interleague series

We’ll do our best in the coming weeks to find indicators that might help handicappers separate the logjam for those wild-card spots. 

Another week flew by in VSiN City. Thanks again to all of you who have provided feedback or sent in questions. If you’re reading this on our website home page, remember that subscribing for free email delivery gets you an automatic entry into a drawing for a spot in the Westgate SuperContest (a $1,500 value). That drawing will be held August 19, which gives you out-of-towners plenty of time to set up a proxy before the start of the NFL season. 

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See you again Monday for a review of a busy MLB weekend, a recap of all four weekend games in the CFL, plus the latest from the Vegas Summer League.

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