LAS VEGAS –Forward He Tianju has shown ability to make perimeter shots, particularly from 3-point range. But the Dallas Mavericks’ ball pressure on the perimeter forced Tianju into problems on Saturday.
Tianju, who has played the past four seasons in the Chinese Basketball Association, missed all three attempts from 3-point range and shot 2-of-8 from the field for four points during the Pelicans’ 90-86 victory at UNLV’s Cox Pavilion.
In Friday’s opening Samsung NBA Summer League game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Tianju showed range after scoring nine points on 3-of-4 shooting, including making a 3-pointer.
Regardless of his difficulty against the Mavericks, Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry thinks Tianju has adjusted quickly.
Tianju does not speak English and his translator, Michael Cheng, accompanied the team to Las Vegas. For the past two games, Cheng has sat alongside the Pelicans’ assistants on the bench.”I think he done a great job fitting in,” Gentry said. ”He is very good as far as swinging the ball. I think he’s a very good shooter with range and we are trying to encourage him when he has the open shot to shoot it.’
‘Tianju, a 6-foot-9, 202-pound small forward, is trying to become the first Chinese-born player to play in the NBA since Yi Jianlian was not extended a contract by the Dallas Mavericks after the 2011-12 season. The NBA has been popular in China since Yao Ming emerged with the Houston Rockets from 2002-11.’
‘When you play, you have to keep confident,” Tianju said. ”I’m confident all the time. I try to talk on defense and rebound. I have great teammates and they all help get wide open shots.”Tianju didn’t get many open looks against the Mavericks like he did against the Bucks on Saturday.
However, Gentry said Tianju’s has to improve his foot work, particularly when he defends.”Defensively, he has got to be able to move his feet better to play the quicker players,” Gentry said.”But I think he is smart enough and his rebounding is very good. I think he’s done a very good job on the boards (rebounding). The only thing I see is his lateral quickness and guarding quicker players out on the floor.”