Moore drops 25; Blair returns Wednesday
An event-filled Wednesday night concluded the second week of the 2011 Pittsburgh Basketball Club Pro-Am summer league, and nothing was bigger than a surprise return from a former Pitt star.
The Lair 61, Steel City Tickets.com 60 (OT)
Even without Pitt's Isaiah Epps and Dante Taylor, The Lair found a way to hold off a young and talented Steel City Tickets.com squad in the night's opener.
Caron Williams and Dallas Green each scored 14 points apiece for The Lair, and Mezi Nwigwe added 12. Kelsey Williams led Steel City with 14 points, and Aaric Murray tallied 11 points and 17 rebounds
With the score tied at 60 in overtime, Nwigwe was fouled by Steel City's Murray with nine seconds left. Nwigwe converted one of two free throws to put The Lair up one.
After Juwan Staten's drive failed to score, Steel City got one more chance with a second left on the clock. The inbound pass went to Murray in the corner, but the three-point attempt was off the mark.
The Lair had a chance to finish the game in regulation. Tied at 55 apiece, Akron's Steve McNees held for the last shot. Green set an ineffective ball screen, and McNees forced up an off-balance, well-guarded three at the buzzer that missed.
Center Court 83, SPK Law 73
If J.J. Moore can do what he did Wednesday night consistently, Pitt will be a tough team to stop.
The sophomore scored 25 points on 8-of-14 shooting in Center Court's first win of the summer against SPK Law.
"Me and John (Johnson) were talking and just like 'We're not losing today. We want a win today,'" Moore said. "So we just came out, played strong."
Moore showed his versatility, scoring many different ways. He started early by taking Khem Birch's opening tip and converting an and-one - one of three and-ones on the night for Moore.
The sophomore showed his range by knocking down 3-of-5 shots from three-point range. Then, he also utilized his athleticism by getting into the paint with ease and even threw down an alley-oop from Johnson.
Moore feels he's improved from last summer. He was timid at times as a freshman but has been more assertive this year. After learning from the seniors on last year's team, the sophomore feels like he's changed for the better.
"I was just learning from all of them," Moore said. "Coming here, I just come with the mindset to play hard because I saw them do it everyday."
Moore's stellar performance was almost overshadowed by the point guard match up. Center Court freshman John Johnson battled SPK senior Ashton Gibbs for a majority of the night. Johnson finished with 20 points. Gibbs tallied 29 points but only shot 8-of-27 from the field - including 4-of-16 from beyond the arc.
Johnson played Gibbs very physically on defense. The freshman would have fouled out in a regulation ball game, but his aggression made life tough on Gibbs.
"John had no fear in his eyes at all," Moore said of the freshman. "He played hard. He said he could guard anybody on the court, and that's what he did."
Lamar Patterson added 17 points and 10 rebounds for SPK, and Birch tallied eight points and 12 rebounds for Center Court.
PBC 73, UPMC 60
Jakim Donaldson's 20-point and 19-rebound night was impressive. It's even more impressive that it came against an NBA player.
Former Pitt star and current San Antonio Spurs forward DeJuan Blair returned to Pittsburgh playing for the UPMC team that lost to PBC. Blair scored nine points and grabbed 12 rebounds in his first game since April.
"It's cool," Blair said of being back in Pittsburgh. "It's fine. It was a good run.
"I didn't get to play the game I wanted, but that's the first time I've played in two or three months."
Blair said he had just got to Pittsburgh an hour before the game and plans to play more this summer.
The former Pitt center also got a first hand look at some of the young Panthers. He played on the same team as Talib Zanna and Durand Johnson. His team faced J.J. Moore and Khem Birch, who both played their second game of the night due to shortage of players.
"They had good energy. They're still learning though, learning a lot," he said. "I'm going to try and play a little bit more with them, just try to get them a little bit better."
Youngstown State's Kendrick Perry scored 14 points for PBC, and Duquesne's T.J. McConnell added 13 points and nine rebounds. UPMC's Lamar Castille scored a game-high 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds, and Zanna chipped in eight points and 10 boards.
UPMC was down 10 at halftime, but closed the gap to three points with 4:50 left. PBC went on a 12-0 run - six points coming from Donaldson - over the next four minutes to end the game.