By Aran Smith
The top performers of day four were Marcus Banks, Rodney Stuckey, Marco Belinelli, Nate Robinson and Craig Smith.
(1-2) San Antonio Spurs 61 – (1-1) Boston Celtics 53
This was an interesting match up with the Celtics playing a lot more of their team’s core players and yet finding a way to lose. The Spurs got their first win in 3 games against a team that they frankly had no business competing with. Both teams employed a similar strategy focusing their offense for much of the game around one player. For Boston it was Gerald Green, who got a number of looks, but failed to impress. He finished with 10 points on 3-10 shooting. Jackie Butler was the Spurs offensive focus and he came through especially in the second half with some superb baskets finishing with 16 points on 8-14 shooting and 12 boards.
CJ Watson is starting to make a believer out of a number of scouts as he battled Rajon Rondo, who has been given the Celtics starting PG job, to a standstill. Watson showed that his excellent play in the Spurs first two losses was no fluke as he outscored Rondo 15-10 hitting 4-8 from the floor and 3 assists, though he had 4 turnovers. Rondo had 1 assist and 7 turnovers.
Big Baby (Glen Davis) had 12 points on 2-8 shooting, scoring most of his points at the line (8-10). He was the recipient of a few generous calls as well as being in the right place at the right time, his most impressive bucket came late as he bulled his way for a lay in. But overall his skill level appears very weak, and it’s questionable whether he brings enough to the table to merit a position on an NBA roster.
Gerald Green continues to be an enigma. One minute he makes a great play and seems to be heading in the right direction and the next 10 he spends pouting and complaining to the refs. His maturity level is still obviously an issue as his body language is terrible. He doesn’t seem to have improved much in the past year, which is not a good sign. And though he still has a great deal of potential, he may end up one of those guys that falls far short of his potential. His value in the open market may not be what it seems.
(2-0) Detroit Pistons 80 – (1-1) Memphis Grizzlies 78
Speaking of enigma’s, Rudy Gay continues to fail to live up to expectations. He’s a kid with amazing physical gifts but can’t seem to put it all together. His intensity level and focus never seem to last through an entire game, and this time they weren’t there at the beginning. He should be dominating a player like Sammy Mejia every time down, but instead he appeared content to allow Mejia to play him evenly. If Gay doesn’t wake up soon, he will never realize his great potential. Gay shot a dreadful 3-16, his shot was not falling, but most alarming was his lack of intensity and focus.
Rodney Stuckey took over in the second half with 27 points showing the ability to be a go to player as well as run the show from the point guard position. He wasn’t creating shots for others, but did an adequate job of handling the ball without turning it over (2 to). It’s true what they say about GMs looking to take players that remind them of themselves, and Detroit GM Joe Dumars surely saw some of himself in Stuckey.
Arron Afflalo had a poor shooting effort (4-13) but did a solid job of defending once again, covering Rudy Gay at times and finishing with 11 points and 5 boards.
(2-0) Golden State Warriors 94 – (1-2) Philadelphia 76ers 87
Even after scoring 37 points on Saturday, the announcer still didn’t know Belinelli’s name calling him "Belinini" twice before being corrected.
Marco Belinelli was at it again. With 10 points in the first quarter, he appeared to be on pace to match his 37 points from day one. But in the second quarter his shots weren’t falling. He came out hot again in the second half, building his point total to 18 within the first 5 minutes and ended up with 23 to finish the game. His effortless jumpshot evokes memories of when Peja was at his peak terrorizing nets across the NBA. Belinelli made two fantastic moves, one where he took the ball through his legs twice and then drained a 3, and another where he crossed over his defender and blew by him to the basket for a lay in to the delight of the crowd. Belinelli finished with 23 points on 9-23 shooting and is making the Warriors one of the most exciting teams in the summer league. It won’t be long before everyone can pronounce his name right.
Rodney Carney bounced back from a dreadful performance with an excellent one scoring 19 points on 8-16 shooting. He broke free on the break for a number of highlight dunks and hit a few outside jumpers as well. He still really struggles to create off the dribble and doesn’t see the floor well, but with a quality point guard in place setting him up, his athleticism can make him effective.
Louis Williams had the dunk of the entire summer league with a monster jam over Brian Cusworth. He came down and made a move on his defender and rose up over the Warriors bigman and flushed home a nasty one hand dunk, this on the heels of a tremendous Marco Belinelli crossover dribble drive and basket. Williams was excellent once again with 23 points on 8-16 shooting, 9 boards and 7 assists.
Thaddeus Young had an excellent game as well going for 15 points (7-20) and 11 boards. He showed his ability to knock down outside jumpers and ran the floor in his usual deer-like fashion.
Pierre Pierce did a solid job with 22 playing Louis Williams for much of the game, and outshooting him from the floor (8-13). His size and quickness give him a real shot to make a team despite his checkered past.
(1-0) Minnesota Timberwolves 85 – (0-2) New Orleans Hornets 83
The first summer league game ever played in the eerie 18,000 seat Thomas and Mack Center gym filled with about 1,000 people went in favor of the Timberwolves. As could be expected second year power forward Craig Smith dominated with 25 points on 7-10 fg and 11-12 ft.
Julian Wright had his best game so far with 13 points (6-13) and a game high 11 rebounds knocking down a huge 3 point shot in the closing seconds which sent the game into overtime.
Corey Brewer looked solid running the court, he still looks incredibly skinny but that hasn’t stopped other NBA guys like Tayshawn Prince and Rip Hamilton from being successful. Brewer had the game winning basket with 3 seconds on the clock.
(1-0) New York Knicks 87 – (0-2) Seattle Supersonics 74
Nate Robinson and Renaldo Balkman put on quite a show picking up the slack as the fans were expecting to see more from Kevin Durant. Durant struggled mightily shooting just 4-19 but was able to bring his scoring number up to 18 with a flurry in the final quarter with a number of trips to the line (8-8).
Robinson was the star of the game with 19 points and 7 assists. He fed his teammates for a number of easy baskets and sparked the fast break. His best shot was a spinning 5 foot jumper which found the net.
Durant couldn’t get things going in the first half with just 5 points. He had two lay in attempts blocked by Randolph Morris and was riddled by the stifling defense of Renaldo Balkman. In the second half he found success driving to the rim as the smaller Knick players had no choice but to foul him. Durant hit a few shots right over defenders but his shot was not finding net the way he normally does. Durant is such a scorer, he rolls out of bed with 18 points, but tonight he had to scratch and claw to get there.
With Durant struggling, Jeff Green was much more impressive with 17 points on 5-12 shooting. Green’s most impressive drive was when he took on the defender and got fouled and dunked right over him using his strength. Green created a few shots for himself with pretty moves and it’s apparent his first game jitters didn’t carry over.
Demitris Nichols was very impressive doing some Durant like things on the floor. With Durant struggling, it was Nichols hitting outside 3 pointers and running the floor and dunking in traffic. Nichols has under rated athletic ability and is a real marksman from the perimeter. He has a chance to end up a better pick than Knicks first rounder Wilson Chandler when all is said and done.
Chandler was solid, guarding Durant a number of times and doing a solid job as well as hitting 5-10 for 12 points. His speed is tremendous even on the NBA level so if he works hard there’s no reason he can’t be a solid pro.
Randolph Morris had a solid game as well scoring 10 points on 5-7 shooting. His short arms keep him from converting on plays that bigger centers might make, but he finally seems to be in great shape and running the floor better than ever. His blocks on Durant were a factor as well.
(2-1) Cleveland Cavaliers 93 – (0-1) Phoenix Suns 89
Marcus Banks has been a major disappointment for the Suns since coming over in free agency, but he was far from a disappointment on Monday night going for a 2007 Summer League high 42 points on 13-19 shooting. Banks took advantage of the Cavs point guard situation as Daniel Gibson was out due to injury to his forehead. Taking over for Gibson were Matt Walsh and Shannon Brown neither of whom had the speed to stay in front of Banks who penetrated at will getting to the line 14 times and converting 12.
In his first summer league game, Alando Tucker had a solid 13 points on 5-9 shooting. He’s got a chance to develop into another late round steal ala Josh Howard if he can develop his ball skills.
Darius Rice was back at it in the late game in the Thomas and Mack 18,000+ capacity arena. Strengthening his bid to make the Cavs, Rice was knocking down shots from all over the court finishing with a team high 21 on 8-11 shooting.