By Dan Savage
July 3, 2017
ORLANDO – If the Pacers are looking towards the future and preparing to turn over a new leaf, they may have found the right player for the job.
T.J. Leaf posted 19 points and 10 rebounds as Indiana edged the Miami Heat, 86-83, and remained undefeated in Mountain Dew Orlando Pro Summer League action on Monday.
“I’m just competitive,” Leaf said. “I want to win more than anything.”
The No. 18 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft continued to flash growth on both ends of the floor, showcasing quality defense to go along with his already well-developed offensive game.
“I think he’s getting better every day defensively,” Pacers Summer League coach Popeye Jones said.
Joe Young stuffed the stat sheet for the Pacers, notching 17 points, six rebounds and six assists.
He also put his immense toughness on display. After badly dislocating a finger late in the third quarter, Young quickly returned to action and led his team to victory down the stretch.
“He’s been great here in this summer league,” Jones added. “The last two games were close down the stretch, we put the ball in hands, let him make plays and he was able to do that again and we were able to get the win because of him.”
Rakeem Christmas, the 36th pick of the 2015 NBA Draft, scored nine in his first summer league action.
“I felt good, my foot felt way better,” Christmas said. “I wanted to come out here, play hard, play my game, do all the little things, rebounds, set screens, be aggressive.”
Bam Adebayo flashed the talent that made him a lottery selection for the Miami Heat this year. The Kentucky standout displayed physical dominance in the interior, notching 29 points and 11 rebounds. He was also extremely effective and efficient from the free throw line going 13-for-17.
“He’s a man already,” Jones marveled. “He’s big and strong, he’s athletic, he was able to get some drives to the basket, he was able to score in the post, get offensive rebounds, roll hard to the rim, and I thought he did a great job of keeping them in the game.”
The Pacers return to action on Tuesday when they face the Dallas Mavericks at 3 p.m. ET, while Miami takes on the Detroit Pistons at 5 p.m. ET.