Chet Holmgren’s second Salt Lake City summer league game featured an interesting matchup against Memphis forward Kenny Lofton Jr., a teammate on the U.S. squad that won the FIBA U19 World Cup last summer in Latvia.
Both players had their moments offensively in the first half before cooling off considerably in the closing 20 minutes, but Holmgren put up a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds as Oklahoma City snagged its second straight win, 87-71, at Vivint Arena.
Lofton led all scorers with 19 points, but was just 2 of 6 from the field in the second half. Holmgren missed all seven of his second-half shots.
Holmgren, the former Gonzaga standout selected second overall by Oklahoma City, appeared to tire in the second half in a game that tipped off 20 hours after he lit up Utah with 23 points, seven rebounds, six blocks and four assists Tuesday in his pro debut. “I see u cookin 7 (Holmgren’s number),” Kevin Durant tweeted. “First day on the job was a success, love the kicks (Nike KD 15s).”
Holmgren’s encore wasn’t as flashy, but the 7-foot-1 forward contributed in other ways after scoring 11 points on 3-of-4 shooting in the opening half. He had seven rebounds in the third quarter and finished with three assists and two blocks. His stats were closer to his GU stats as a freshman (14.1 points, 9.9 boards, 3.7 blocks, 1.9 assists).
“Definitely an adjustment not playing for the last couple months and getting your wind back, especially with the altitude and everything,” Holmgren said in a post-game interview on ESPN. “When the shot’s not falling, legs get tired and the shot is short, just try to find other ways to impact the game, whether it’s defense or finding my teammates. Just trying to help win.”
Holmgren, named MVP of the FIBA U19 tournament, and Lofton couldn’t keep each other from scoring in the first 20 minutes. The 6-8, 275-pound Lofton, who signed a two-way contract with Memphis, hit a 3-pointer and powered inside for buckets from close range.
Holmgren finished with two fouls while Lofton had five. One of Lofton’s second-half baskets was a 3-pointer from 35 feet over Holmgren just before the shot clock expired.
“We were just talking a little trash to each other (leaving the court),” Holmgren said. “He’s going to be in the league a long time, hell of a player. We’re going to go at it whenever we play, but when we step outside the lines that’s my dog for sure.”
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