Vegas – The outcome of the game wasn’t as important as the report on first-round pick Jaden Ivey. It’s always scary when a player lands awkwardly on a play. When it’s a first draft pick, it escalates.
Jaden Ivey, the No. 5 overall pick, suffered an ankle injury after attempting a 3-point shot in the first quarter of Saturday’s Summer League game against the Washington Wizards. He hobbled to the locker room and did not return to play, although he did return to the bench in the second half.
Pistons Summer League coach Jordan Brink says there has been no update on Ivey’s status but the level of concern doesn’t seem high over the long-term outlook .
“I don’t think (we’re) too worried, but I have to talk to (medical staff) about it,” Brink said. “I haven’t spoken to them yet.”
The Pistons were cruising in the first half but had to hold on in the fourth quarter for a 105-99 victory at the Thomas & Mack Center.
The injury bug is hitting the roster hard, as Ivey (right ankle) and Saben Lee (left ankle) didn’t return in the game and Killian Hayes didn’t play.
The Pistons (2-0) had enough depth to resist injury, with Isaiah Livers leading with 20 points and five rebounds. Braxton Key added 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists and Isaiah Stewart added 14 points and nine rebounds.
“I think we moved very well with the ball. We had 23 assists, and that was an important point to get the ball out. I thought we dribbled and hammered it a bit too much last game” , Brink said. “We did a really good job of playing with the five-point mentality, moving the ball and generating open looks.
“We made 14 threes and shot almost 50% from 3. I thought it was just the movement of the ball and just the good-to-good passing mentality.”
After building a 27-point lead in the first half and looking to put the game away, the Wizards narrowed their lead behind Jordan Schakel (24 points) and Jordan Goodwin (20 points and five rebounds).
The Wizards (0-1) went 91-90 with 3:44 left on a pair of free throws from first-round pick Johnny Davis, but Stewart responded with a 3-pointer. Schakel hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead back to one again, but Key scored on a backdoor clipping a nifty pass from Jalen Duren (13 points and six rebounds) and Livers added a 3-pointer to push back the lead at six with 1:50 remaining.
Washington followed with a jumper from Goodwin and a pair of free throws from Schakel to make it 99-97, but Stewart had a tip and Livers added two free throws to give the Pistons some breathing room.
Concern over Ivey was front and center, however.
“I was mad for him because he’s a competitor. If you saw him, he tried to stay. I was like, ‘Bro, get off the court and get this checked out,'” Livers said. “He’s a great player, a big boy and talented, but off the pitch he’s already a great teammate.
“He already looks like he will be one of the best team-mates already, so I support him 1000 per cent and hope his ankle is okay.”
On the play, Ivey landed on the defender’s foot and writhed on the court for a few seconds. He got up and slammed the scorer’s table in frustration after the injury. After hobbling for a few more seconds, he was examined by medical personnel.
The defender was called for a flagrant foul and Ivey stayed in the game and made all three free throws, then headed to the locker room for further examination.
Ivey had a solid first quarter, with 11 points, including a 3-pointer, a three-pointer and five free throws.
“I thought you saw him a little more comfortable at the start of the game, already from game 1 to game 2, just the pace,” Brink said. “We wanted to give him a bit more space to operate and use his speed. I thought you had already seen the game slow down a bit for him.”