Lewis, Johnson make solid debuts in summer-league play

LAS VEGAS -- Dwight Lewis and Marcus Johnson found plenty of perks while making their NBA debuts Friday in the Las Vegas Summer League, playing against each other for the Houston Rockets and Phoenix Suns.

Plenty of them, indeed. The pair of former Trojans were wearing NBA uniforms, defending each other mano-a-mano for a time and playing on national television while auditioning for a spot on NBA teams. For Lewis, though, maybe the best part of the whole situation was the socks he was wearing.

Yes, the socks. Playing in the NBA, interestingly enough, grants you the privilege of receiving free NBA socks -- a very important perk, Lewis said while smiling big after what he termed a positive debut.

Maybe they really were the reason Lewis' debut was so positive. Whatever it was, Lewis performed admirably for the Rockets on Friday, backing up Rockets guard/forward Chase Budinger and scoring 10 points and adding two assists in 13 minutes of play for Houston's summer-league squad.

"It was fun," Lewis said afterward. "It was a good experience, playing summer league. I always used to watch it on TV -- now I finally get to play in it."

Meanwhile, Johnson appeared for a second-half spurt and held his own, converting a lay-up under the basket for his first -- and only -- points of the night.

Late in the third quarter, Lewis and Johnson matched up on both sides of the court and appeared to have some fun, laughing during dead-ball situations. Playing defense, Lewis managed to knock the ball away from Johnson on one occasion.

The two players were friends during the two years they spent together at USC and have kept in touch since their season ended in March. Lewis said he was happy when he found out that they would be playing against each other in their first-ever professional game.

"We had a couple comments for each other — a couple jokes while we were running down the court," Lewis said. "It was fun."

Lewis' first points of the game came on free throws, setting the tone for his performance -- he visited the line twice more on the day, converting four of five attempts. He added a isolation play he converted into an and-one and a smooth 17-foot jumper a couple steps left of the key, but his best play was probably a drive-and-kick to Rockets' first-round pick Patrick Patterson, who made the resulting 18-foot jump shot look easy.

Lewis, who converted 3 of his 4 field goal attempts in the Rockets' 100-82 win, assessed his performance like this: "I got to the line a lot, got some free throws. I was able to finish on some plays. I could've taken a couple more shots that I passed up, but it doesn't matter.

"I enjoyed myself. We got the win, so I'm happy with that."

A full recap and box score for the game is available here. 2009 second-round selection Jermain Taylor led the Rockets with 25 points; ex-Virginia Tech combo guard Zabian Dowdell had 16 for the Suns while Gani Lawal and Earl Clark added 14 apiece.