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Second-year sharpshooter Armoni Brooks didn’t play for most of the 2021 Las Vegas Summer League, owing to a stint in the NBA’s health and safety protocols. But in his second game since returning, and his first with major minutes, Brooks delivered quite a closing statement on Tuesday.
Brooks led Houston with 30 points on 9-of-17 shooting from 3-point range (52.9%), including the tiebreaking shot during a 12-0 run in the game’s final 70 seconds. Even with regulars Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, and KJ Martin all out for rest, the Rockets (3-2) defied the odds in Tuesday’s summer league finale with a 95-92 victory over Portland (2-3). After trailing by seven with barely over a minute left, Houston’s full-court pressure defense forced three late turnovers to rescue the game.
Rookie guard Josh Christopher also had a strong performance with 20 points (57.1% FG), 5 rebounds, and 5 assists, while rookie forward Usman Garuba made his first summer league start and had his best NBA game so far with 8 points (60% FG), 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 steals, and a key block in the closing seconds. But it was Brooks who stole the show during a wild comeback win, and it should give Rockets general manager Rafael Stone plenty to think about as 2021 free agency rolls on.
Now 23 years old, Brooks isn’t yet under contract for next season. However, Houston issued Brooks a qualifying offer this month, which makes him a restricted free agent and gives the Rockets matching rights in free agency for any scenario where Brooks signs with another team. It’s also possible that Brooks could simply accept the qualifying offer and return to Houston that way, or he could negotiate a longer deal.
See below for highlights and postgame reaction by Brooks, Christopher, and summer league head coach Will Weaver. Portland was led in defeat (box score) by Antonio Blakeney, who scored 23 points.
https://twitter.com/MarkBermanFox26/status/1427766408260292608 https://twitter.com/BenDuBose/status/1427768713378476034 https://twitter.com/nbagleague/status/1427769615782871041