2008 NBA Summer League: Day 4
Knicks 97 Cavs 94
The New York Knicks won their first summer league game today at Cox Pavilion in a well played and hard fought contest, beating the Cleveland Cavaliers, 97-94. Danilo Gallinari, the Knicks draft pick, showed some early jitters but remained aggressive in the 2nd half, scoring 9 points in the 3rd quarter en route to 14 overall. The Knicks were led by Wilson Chandler’s 26 points on 11 for 21 shooting to go along with 8 rebounds, and guard Anthony Roberson’s 22. A late pair of free throws by Mardy Collins, who had 17 for the night, sealed the deal for the Knicks.
For the Cavaliers, North Carolina State guard J.J. Hickson had a monster game, posting 26 points of his own on 11 for 15 shooting, providing an intriguing matchup between him and Chandler, who went back and forth against one another for much of the game. Clay Tucker added 17 for the Cavs, and everybody’s favorite tractor, veteran Robert Traylor showed up, chipping in 8 points and 3 boards.
The big question leading into the game was what the Knicks would get from their newest member, the Italian, Gallinari. Nicknamed “the Rooster,” he clucked and clawed his way to respectability in the 2nd displaying his various weapons, Gallinari showed us the long range 3 ball, an effective dribble drive to the hoop from the 3 point line, a soft mid range jumper, and a follow up dunk that got the crowd out of their seats. Knicks fans have a lot to be excited about in this 19 year old upcoming rookie. At least here in the summer league. It will take him some time to adjust to the NBA game coming from Europe, but once he learns how and where to pick his spots, he will be a solid pro, if not a go-to scorer. Credit him for not allowing his early misses to affect his confidence and effort level.
Nuggets 90 Raptors 79
Though Sonny Weems wasn’t able to replicate his st summer league performance, 6 other Nuggets were in double figures in a balance attack that produced a balanced victory over the 0-2 Toronto Raptors, 90-79. They were led by Taurean Green and Dahntay Jones, who had 17 and 16 points, respectively. Jones, the Duke guard who has struggled to stick on with any roster over the course of his career, demonstrated his love for shooting the basketball and getting to the line, making 12 trips to the charity stripe and converting on 9 of them. Space-eating forward Elton Brown continued his hefty glass work with 10 rebounds to go with his 11 points.
For the Raptors, Joey Graham continues to lead the team with his scoring, swagger, and general no-nonsense approach. He appears unhappy most of the time. Sulking his way to 16 points on 6 for 13 shooting, Graham gobbled 7 boards and shared a bit, too, handing out 2 dimes. John Lucas, Jr. and Hassan Adams scored 11 apiece for the Raps, but it was C.J. Giles – 6-
Trailblazers 78 Wizards 73
Jerryd Bayless was determined. Petteri Koponen was red hot. Together they were a winning combo, leading the Portland Trailblazers summer league team to a 78-73 win over the Washington Wizards. Leading the way with 28 points in his NBA debut (if you can call Summer League a debut), Bayless got to the line seemingly at will, 23 times overall, hitting on 18 of them. Please re-read that last line. Bayless got the Dwyane Wade treatment, and deservedly so, angling his way to the rack all night long, absorbing the contact, and knocking down his freebies. A truly rare and exceptional performance.
Koponen, the Finnish guard selected by the Blazers a year ago but stashed away overseas this past season, gave the crowd something to be excited about as he got it going in the 2nd half, draining three long range jumpers in a row as the Wizards continually failed to go over the top of the screen and show hard on this bomber. He made them pay, hitting on 4 of 6 from beyond the arc. His shooting and passing ability make him a likely candidate to come over this season and sit on the bench all season long for the playoff-bound Trailblazers. Why get a lot of playing time and experience in Europe when you can ride the pinein the greatest league in the world?
Nicolas Batum, the French forward originally drafted 25th by the Houston Rockets but later traded to Portland, struggled mightily in 25 minutes, shooting just 1 for 6 and turning the ball over 4 times before getting hurt. His long, wiry frame and ability to the handle the rock are good tools, but it’s unclear if he’ll be able to contribute at all in the near future for these Blazers, especially playing behind guys like Brandon Roy, Martell Webster, and Travis Outlaw.
For the Wizards, Andray Blatche and Nick Young each scored 17 points, while Blatche stuffed the stat sheet, adding 8 boards, 2 steals, and 1 block – as well as 8 fouls and 5 turnovers. Ouch. While he is still polishing his game and growing into this frame, Blatche is stronger today than this time a year ago, has an improved stroke, and continues to show the ball handling and versatility that is so rare in a player his size (6-11). It’s clear why the Wizards are so high on this kid.
Young did his thing: heating up and going for his. He shot 2 for 4 from 3 point territory and bconnected on 5 for 6 from the line, but also struggled with foul trouble, committing a whopping 9 fouls in 29 minutes. Wizards draft selection JaVale McGee added 3 blocks in the losing effort, but only 2 rebounds in 26 minutes. A poor showing for the 7-0 Center out of Nevada.
Mavericks 88 Timberwolves 74
Vanderbilt product Shan Foster pumped in 17 points and JaJuan Smith added 19 points in 18 microwave minutes for the Dallas Mavericks, taking the Timberwolves by storm in an 88-74 win this evening at Cox Pavilion on the UNLV Campus. For the Timberwolves, the Kevin Love era got off to an interesting start, as he produced solid numbers: 18 points, 13 boards, 7 for 13 shooting, one trademark outlet pass, but looked considerably shaky at times during his first game in a pro setting.
Love, hyped by most and loved by many, was able to produce big in a losing cause and should take some knocks for not living up to his reputation as a fundamentally sound big man. He shuffled his feet on various occasions on his way to 5 turnovers, failed moving his feet defensively. When he finally got to work on the low block and connected on a few short range bank shot hooks, the game was already out of reach. He will benefit from playing with a lead scorer such as Al Jefferson and not being called upon as the last line of defense this upcoming season. Questions will come up about his athleticism and quickness as he is bound to see a healthy dose of foul trouble early in his career. quarter fouls and 6 fouls overall, and looked hesitant with his shot throughout much of the game.
The Timberwolves, however, got a pleasant surprise from their back-up PG, Blake Ahearn, who excelled in the D-league last season and was called up in the latter stages of the year by the Miami Heat. He added 17 points in the loss, imposing his will on Kevin McHale’s day.
Ouch. While he is still polishing his game and growing into this frame, Blatche is stronger today than this time a year ago, has an improved stroke, and continues to show the ball handling and versatility that is so rare in a player his size travesti