LAS VEGAS — The summer league debut for Portland Trail Blazers rookie guard Shaedon Sharpe included two three misses, an ugly turnover and a smooth base jumper.
Seconds later, Sharpe’s night ended with a shoulder injury after 5 minutes and 33 seconds of action against Detroit at the Thomas & Mack Center.
The Blazers were down 81-78 after falling 41-34 at halftime to trail just 70-69 with less than three minutes left.
Guard Keon Johnson led the Blazers with 21 points on 8-of-17 shooting. Point guard Brandon Williams contributed 15 points and four assists.
It was a disappointing night for the Blazers, aside from the loss, given that Sharpe’s debut was highly anticipated. The Blazers selected him with the No. 7 pick in the June 23 NBA draft and Sharpe was eager to make an impression in his first outing.
But he never really had a chance.
Sharpe missed his first two field goal attempts, both threes, and misfired a pass in transition resulting in a turnover. It all led to his half-spin, fading from the right baseline that made it 16-13 Detroit. At the next time out, Sharpe left the game and never returned.
Blazers summer league head coach Steve Hetzel said he wasn’t sure how serious Sharpe’s injury was.
“I’m not even sure of the diagnosis of the injury right now,” Hetzel said. “I just know he was held back as a precaution.”
Hetzel said Sharpe told him at halftime that he was feeling fine, but the team opted to remain cautious with his injury and wait to see what the test results might reveal.
While fans in attendance were cheated to see Sharpe in action for a very long time, they were treated to a strong performance from two Pistons rookies, guard Jaden Ivy, the fifth overall pick, and center Jalen Duren, the 13th overall pick. choice.
Ivy started and scored 20 points with six rebounds and six assists. Duren, who worked for the Blazers during the pre-draft process, also started and had nine points in just under 12 minutes.
Ivy had two free throws with 58.5 seconds left in the game, giving Detroit a 78-75 lead. Blazers guard Didi Louzada missed a layup on the Blazers’ next possession, then the Pistons pushed their lead to 80-75 with 31.4 seconds to go to the hoop by Ivy.
Hetzel said he thought the nervousness of the first game could have impacted the team in the first half, but thought they settled down and played better in the second half.
“I loved the effort,” Hetzel said. “These guys are together. And that is what is most important. I love how they pull for each other. In the caucus, they are always positive.
Johnson wasn’t the only Blazers player to bring intensity, but he was certainly the most effective player on the field.
“I like what Keon did today,” Hetzel said. “He was aggressive. He played very, very hard. His defense was intense.
SUMMER LEAGUE SCHEDULE
7 p.m. Saturday vs. New Orleans Pelicans (ESPN2)
8 p.m. Monday vs. New York Knicks (ESPN2)
6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 14 vs. Houston Rockets (NBA TV)
All games will be played at the Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion on the UNLV campus. Fans can purchase tickets by visiting NBAEvents.com.
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