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Friday, July 12, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Pelicans 77, Knicks 72

By Jared Zwerling

Here are a few notes at the buzzer of the Knicks' first summer league game in Las Vegas:

WHAT IT MEANS: Tim Hardaway Jr. is already proving the Knicks made the right decision with the 24th pick in last month's draft. The son of former All-NBA point guard Tim Hardaway finished with a team-high 13 points and a couple of assists and rebounds, as GM Glen Grunwald, assistant GM Allan Houston and coach Mike Woodson watched from the sideline.

TOP PERFORMER: Entering the draft, questions were raised about Hardaway Jr.'s playmaking off the dribble. Those questions were put to rest -- at least on Friday. After he hit a jump shot down the baseline -- the first bucket of the game -- he became a one-man fast break.

On two possessions in the first half, he pushed the ball and put on a Euro Step -- a move he's been working on this offseason -- to draw the foul. Later, on another breakway, he found Toure Murry for a 3-pointer. In the second half, Hardaway had another dish to C.J. Leslie, who is signed to a partially guaranteed contract, for a layup. Hardaway demonstrated great court awareness and crafty dribbling, pulling off fluid in-and-out and behind-the-back moves.

Hardaway continued his dishing on a pick-and-pop with Eloy Vargas. He was also heads-up on the defensive end, jumping out on passing lanes at the right time and chasing down loose balls.

OTHER NOTABLES The 6-11 Vargas was the best shooting big man for the Knicks on Friday. He hit three outside jumpers, including two 3-pointers, and he had a putback tip-in.

Murry's speed and driving in transition have always been his bright spots, and he showed that on one play when he stole the ball and took it in all by himself for a layup. Murry (11 points) also played well as a passer, finding Terrence Jennings twice for jump shots (in a pick-and-pop and down the baseline). Murry's point guard skills were sharper than those of Chris Smith.

ROLE ADJUSTMENT: Iman Shumpert and Smith both struggled a bit at point guard, throwing passes out of bounds while trying to find their teammates. Their overall timing on passes was off, sometimes giving the ball up too soon while flying through mid-air. Both players are combo guards, but they're being asked to run more point guard in summer league. Their adjustment will be interesting to watch, especially for Shumpert, who Woodson envisions playing more at the 1 position next season.

WHAT'S NEXT: The Knicks play the Wizards on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET on MSG Network. The game will be replayed at 8 p.m.

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