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December 21, 2014

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NBA Day 7: Fazekas feels the love (and hate)

The Los Angeles Clippers have had a larger Summer League following this past week, but one player in particular has heard just as many jeers as cheers.

“Sometimes it is kind of fun to play in front of people who don’t really like you. It kind of makes you play a little harder,” said Nevada product Nick Fazekas, who had his best Summer League showing Thursday when he scored 16 points in the Clippers last game of the session, an 80-76 overtime loss to New Orleans.

But coming back to such familiar (at times hostile) surroundings on the UNLV campus wasn’t all negative for the soon-to-be second-year player, who suited up 26 games for Dallas and the Clippers last year.

“I definitely have some Nevada fans here, cheering for and against me. It’s better than a neutral crowd,” said Fazekas, who averaged 9.2 points per game and 5.2 rebounds a contest in five Summer League games.

“Just to have the people making noise in the stands makes the game a little more fun.”

There certainly hasn’t been any shortage of excitement surrounding the Clippers lately. After losing Elton Brand to Philadelphia and Corey Maggette to Golden State, L.A. has boosted its roster with Baron Davis and Marcus Camby.

The Clippers’ recent additions (rookie Eric Gordon showed a spark in the two Summer League games he played, before a strained hamstring kept him out of action) have Fazekas even more pumped up about proving he deserves a spot on their squad.

“I like what coach (Mike) Dunleavy has going on,” Fazekas said. “I think that the team is going to be very strong this. I would love to be there and be a counterpart to some of the guys like Chris Kaman and Baron Davis.”

That Lov(e)ing Feeling — Minnesota rookie Kevin Love finally got what he wanted at the NBA Summer League — a win.

"Feels good that we got the win," said the All-American from UCLA, of the Timberwolves' 88-78 victory over Portland. "I think it's kind of the nature of that third game. Just chemistry and playing together a little."

Not too mention his own accolades.

Love recorded his third straight double-double with 26 points (his highest output so far) and 15 rebounds.

"I feel good out there," Love continued. "I've mentioned the whole week that the 11 seconds from 35 to 24 (on the shot clock) is a big adjustment. Just getting up and down the floor, sprinting to the spots I need to be in — that's the biggest adjustment. The pace of the game."

At times Thursday, the tempo reached a breakneck speed when Portland rookie Jerryd Bayless really got going.

Bayless — the second-leading scorer in Summer League play, who is averaging 27.7 points per contest (Houston's Donte Greene is tops with 28.5 ppg) — also had his best game so far. The 11th overall pick scored 29 points and once again took advantage of his ability to get to the free-throw line, where he knocked down 13-of-16 charities. He also grabbed six rebounds to go along with two assists, a steal and a block. However, he did cough the ball over six times and committed seven fouls.

"He's fun to watch," said Love of Bayless, who he's matched up against since middle school and last season in Pac 10 play. "But when you're out there, you're just trying to contain him."

Apparently the same can be said for Love, who admitted to getting a few tips this week from NBA legend and Minnesota's Vice President of Basketball Operations, Kevin McHale.

"I never get starstruck. I'm from UCLA and you see everybody out on the town at UCLA," Love said. "But when I saw Kevin McCale I was a little starstruck. Now it's good to be working with him."

Game-winner — Philadelphia's Jamont Gordon hit a reverse layup with a half second left on the clock to lift the 76ers to their third straight victory. Thaddeus Young led the 76ers in their final game in Vegas with 21 points, while Marreese Speights (15 points, 11 rebounds) and Jason Smith (12 points, 12 boards) finished with double-doubles. Junior Harrington also tallied 12, as did Gordon.

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