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As players are trying to make statements about their worth in the NBA, the Celtics’ Orlando Summer League team made a collective statement in their opening game Monday night, crushing the Utah Jazz 87-56.
Bill Walker led the summer squad with 14 points, while big man Nick Fazekas added 13, including 9 straight in the 4th quarter. J.R. Giddens, Gabe Pruitt, and Lester Hudson were the other Celtics’ players to score in double figures. Baylor University star Kevin Rogers led the C’s in rebounding with 6, as well as contributing 2 blocks and 9 points on a hustle-filled 22 minutes off the bench.
The Celtics led 44-19 at the half and never looked back. The Green shot 55% on the game while holding the Jazz to a measly 35% from the field and 17% from three-point range.
Rookie Lester Hudson got off to a rough start when he turned the ball over on his first two possessions. Hudson recovered nicely and led the Celts in scoring at the half with 9 points. Hudson’s strong play sent a message to third-year player Gabe Pruitt. Pruitt is believed to have a lot to prove this summer if he wants to stay in the league. Pruitt came out aggressive in the second half and ended up matching Hudson’s numbers for the game. It is likely Pruitt and Hudson are playing for one roster spot.
The biggest disappointment in this game was by far Robert Swift. Believed to be auditioning for a role as the C’s backup-big-man-insurance-policy, Swift played 21 minutes and finished with just 4 points and 3 rebounds. Given Swift’s history of injuries, conditioning seems to be a major problem for the 7’1” pro. On several occasions during the course of the game, Swift became winded and had to be benched. Swift’s fatigue was a godsend for Nick Fazekas and Kevin Rogers, who both shone brilliantly off the pine.
The C’s resume action Tuesday when they take on summer league hosts, the Orlando Magic.