Rookie P.J. Hairston finished with 27 points and seven rebounds, but it wasn’t enough as the Charlotte Hornets fell to the Houston Rockets 83-79 in the Las Vegas Summer League semifinals at Thomas & Mack Center.
The Hornets lost all three games in pool play, leading to a low seed, but they won their next two games in the elimination tournament to advance to within a round of the final.
Playing without Cody Zeller for the second straight game, the Hornets got 18 points and 14 rebounds from Josh Davis, who could be a training camp invitation at UNC-Asheville. Rookie Noah Vonleh, the ninth overall pick in June, finished with nine points and 16 rebounds.
Gone, also, is the burden of lifting the Cavaliers out of oblivion. Irving has been the face of this franchise since he arrived, and some of the scrutiny he faced was directly tied to the departure of LeBron James.
Irving, then 19, after all, first had to answer questions about replacing LeBron while at the draft lottery three years ago when the Cavs won the first overall pick and the right to select him. The two stars have been in some ways connected, for better or worse, ever since.
“I’m happy he’s back,” Irving said Saturday during his high school basketball camp. “It’s going to be a pleasure to learn from him and grow with him these next few years.”
Irving is under the Cavs’ control for the next six years. James can be a free agent again next summer, but after his letter was published by Sports Illustrated, the Cavs are operating under the belief he will end his career here.
Irving sent James his congratulations after the announcement, but has otherwise left him alone.
“It’s an exciting time for downtown Cleveland. I’m excited,” Irving said. “Everything is happening so fast.”
He mulled offers from the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Chicago Bulls. In the end, Miami is where he wanted to remain.
Chalmers said he was shocked to see James return to Cleveland. Chalmers, among the closest players to James, has since wished his former teammate well.
“I’m not mad at him at all,” Chalmers said. “He had to do what was best for him and his family.” Sun Sentinel