John Beilein’s real NBA coaching debut comes in October.
He probably knows a little bit more about what to expect now.
Cleveland’s new coach got his first bit of practice for the real thing on Monday in the NBA’s first game of the summer — only to have San Antonio spoil his debut. Lonnie Walker IV scored 20 points, and the Spurs beat the Cavaliers 97-89 in the Salt Lake City Summer League opener.
Afterward, Beilein said there’s still some things he had to learn about the NBA game. He thought there was going to be a jump ball to begin the second quarter, only to learn the NBA doesn’t have those.
“We’re all learning right now,” Beilein said. “We weren’t as fortunate as we’d like to be today, but we’re all going to grow immensely from it.”
Drew Eubanks and Quinndary Weatherspoon each scored 13 for San Antonio, which got 11 from Luka Samanic and 10 from Ben Moore.
Walker struggled in his summer debut last year, going 3 for 16 then. He was 8 for 12 from the floor on Monday, and lauded the Spurs’ staff for the work they’ve done with him over the last 12 months.
“It’s an eye-opener,” said Walker, who appeared in 17 games with the Spurs last season after getting drafted following one year with the Miami Hurricanes. “This entire offseason, the Spurs’ development staff has been consistently on me. We’re just working and trying to get better and work on the little things. I’m blessed to be with the Spurs’ organization.”
Dylan Windler led the Cavaliers with 19 points.
“I just like the way he moves,” Beilein said. “He instinctively has a really good feel for the game.”
Malik Newman and Naz Mitrou-Long each added 16 points for Cleveland. Mitrou-Long also had eight assists.
Beilein also made the first coaches’ challenge of the summer, an option that teams are likely to have in the NBA this season on a one-year trial pending approval next week by the league’s board of governors. His challenge of a foul call wasn’t upheld.
“Could have went either way,” Beilein said.
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