The Washington Wizards couldn’t overcome a San Antonio Spurs side down one 7-foot-5 Frenchman, losing by a score of 96-85.
Spurs guard Malaki Branham shrugged off his previous 1-of-17 performance to lead all scorers with 29 points on 12-of-20 shooting.
The game stayed close for most of the contest. There were a total of 15 lead changes before the Spurs pulled away midway through the fourth and never looked back.
There appeared to be an emphasis on using Coulibaly more as a lead ball-handler in this one. They ran several sets with him as the primary playmaker, to varying degrees of success.
The rookie finished with a team-high 4 assists. He made a few slick passes including a solid pick-and-roll read to find Kyle Alexander rumbling to the rim for an and-1.
Good pass from Bilal and great finish by Alexander pic.twitter.com/hYwTZXEsHj— WIZARDS SOCIETY (@dcaboveall) July 12, 2023
Coulibaly tried to run similar action two more times in the ensuing possessions. One pass was nearly stolen but went out of bounds. The next one actually was picked off.
Despite a couple of turnovers, it’s encouraging that Bilal shows a passable enough handle to be able to even run these plays. He’s also made several intelligent reads not just in this game, but in the first two as well.
However, he’s telegraphing what he wants to do right now rather than reading what the defense is giving him. It’s something he’ll grow to understand with more reps under his belt and a more developed offensive game.
What Coulibaly already seems to have down pat is how to protect the rim. He finished with 3 blocks, including another highlight reel swat on Spurs’ Seth Millner.
things you love to see— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) July 12, 2023
└ Bilal Coulibaly blocks pic.twitter.com/fB53g395l4
Bilal had another rough outside shooting night, making just one of his five three-point attempts. The misses were bona fide bricks, including one airball.
But overall, there was a lot more to like from Coulibaly’s third summer league game. He finished with a stat line of 10 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 3 blocks.
Vukcevic showed some flashes himself. There were times when he looked a little clunky, whether it was on a failed post move or in trying to defend laterally.
But there were also times when Vukcevic looked like a poor man’s Walker Kessler defending the rim. He tallied just 2 blocks in the contest, but altered a handful more all evening.
The Serbian also showed some of his other skills. He hit Coulibaly right on the money with an entry pass to start off the fourth quarter, one of his 3 assists on the night.
Beautiful pass from Tristan Vukčević to Bilal Coulibaly for the layup pic.twitter.com/W0MNgBdka3— wizzy (@youngwizzyDFS) July 12, 2023
Then there was this. Yeah.
Tristan Vukcevic step back 3?! pic.twitter.com/np3WpHShlP— Hoop District (@Hoop_District) July 12, 2023
Xavier Cooks might be playing himself into the end of the rotation next season. He once again showed off great energy and piled on the numbers with 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks.
It wasn’t a great performance from Johnny Davis and Patrick Baldwin Jr., who combined for 5-of-23 shooting from the field. Davis appeared to be forcing his offense, which is how it looks when his tough shots aren’t falling.
Ryan Rollins was fine. The point guard scored the Wizards’ first 5 points but didn’t do too much of note the rest of the way, finishing with 13 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists. He also yielded to Point Bilal a handful of times, which may have led to a more passive game from him.
Next up, the Wizards take on the Thunder in their 5 p.m. tilt set for Friday.