- Rookie Denzel Valentine hit a game-tying and then a game-winning shot to lift the Bulls to the Summer League title
LAS VEGAS — Denzel Valentine only hit three shots all night, but the second one saved Chicago’s perfect Summer League run and the third delivered the title.
The Bulls beat the Timberwolves, 84–82, in the Las Vegas Summer League final at Thomas & Mack Center on Monday, completing a perfect 7–0 Summer League record.
Valentine, selected No. 14 in June’s draft after spending four seasons at Michigan State, sealed the win with a jumper over Coty Clarke at the buzzer in overtime.
“Four-year [college] player,” Bulls Summer League coach Pete Myers said of Valentine. “He’s been in moments like this. From the day he walked into our facility he hasn’t blinked. We knew this kid was confident. Moments, situations, he’s not afraid.”
With 10 seconds left and the score tied 82–82, Valentine first worked to his right to draw a switch before driving back left and reverse pivoting into a jumper from the left elbow. The shot swished through after time expired, prompting loud cheers from the crowd, which was heavily pro-Bulls all night.
“I’ve made so many big shots and played so many different types of games,” Valentine said. “I’ve played games like this where I’ve not scored all game and then I hit big buckets, or I’ve had games where I scored all the points and missed the game-winner. It’s never over until it's over.”
Remarkably, this was Valentine’s second heroic moment of the night. With Minnesota leading 77–74 and 3.6 seconds left in regulation, Chicago set up a brilliant inbounds play to free Valentine for a game-tying three. The shot off the well-executed set, which included a crosscourt pass to Cristiano and a quick second pass to Valentine at the left angle, tied the game at 77–77 with 0.2 seconds left.
Valentine finished with just seven points on 3-for-10 shooting overall and 1-for-7 from deep to go with eight rebounds and three assists in 37 minutes.
“I was struggling the whole game,” Valentine said as his Bulls teammates donned “Summer League Champion” T-shirts. “It was tough. I knew I needed to make a statement somehow.”
Bulls guard Jerian Grant finished with 24 points, 10 rebounds and five assists to claim Las Vegas Summer League championship game MVP honors. Bulls forward Bobby Portis tallied 26 points and 10 rebounds in the win.
Chicago joins Golden State (2013), Sacramento (2014) and San Antonio (2015) as event champions.
“The people who are saying that [Summer League doesn’t matter] didn’t win Summer League or wanted to win the Summer League or didn’t get a chance to play in the Summer League,” Valentine said. “Whoever is saying that, that’s a losing mentality.”
Minnesota guard Tyus Jones, who was named Las Vegas Summer League MVP on Sunday, finished with a game-high 27 points and 10 assists in the loss. The second-year guard hit a deep three-pointer with 3.6 seconds remaining before Valentine tied the game in regulation.
The Timberwolves finished Summer League with a 4–4 record after winning four straight games to qualify for Monday’s final.