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Finishing strong
by Preetom Bhattacharya / July 15, 2008

Danilo Gallinari - Icon Sports MediaGame 1: New York 97 – Cleveland 94

In his Summer League debut, Danilo Gallinari looked pretty solid. The first half didn’t go too well for him, as he couldn’t hit a shot to save his life and you could hear all the New York fans in the crowd groan. But Gallinari turned it around and finished with 14 points on 5-11 from the field to go with his 6 rebounds and 2 assists. Gallinari started to show some sparks in the second half, taking people off the dribble and pulling up from the perimeter in a nice fashion.

Studs: J.J. Hickson was so good that it was scary. He scored 26 points on 11-15 shooting from the field and grabbed nine rebounds as well. Some of his dunks were so strong that the basketball stanchions shook for a good while before re-stabilizing. He looked a lot like Marreese Speights in how he’s been battling down low so far. Wilson Chandler had a great game for the Knicks, finishing with 26 points and 8 rebounds; he really was dominating the game on both ends, so it’ll be interesting to see if that continues from him since he looked like a stud out there. The Knicks’ starting backcourt of Mardy Collins and Anthony Roberson also looked good, with Collins scoring 17 points on 4-6 shooting (8-9 from the field), grabbing 6 boards, and dishing 5 assists and Roberson scoring 22 points.

Duds: Renaldo Balkman simply needs to find a way to get more involved in the game – he played for 26 minutes and barely made his presence felt on either end of the court. He finished with 4 points (only took 4 shots) and 5 rebounds, but a first rounder needs to do more here in Summer League.

Game 2: Denver 90 – Toronto 79

Denver’s second game here in Vegas provided an opportunity for Taurean Green to come out of his shell a little bit. Taurean was flying around out there, finishing with 17 points, most coming from the free-throw line, where Green was 9-12; he made all three of his field-goal attempts. He also contributed 4 assists and 3 rebounds, looking like a nice possibility to fill the Nuggets’ point guard void.

Studs: Joey Graham continued his great VSL play with a 16-point, 7-rebound performance for the Raptors and Dahntay Jones is doing the same thing for the Nuggets, scoring 16 points on 6-10 shooting. Elton Brown of the Nuggets notched a double-double, going for 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Duds: After a nice Summer League debut, Sonny Weems struggled to find his stroke in Game 2, going 1-7 from the field. He didn’t struggle as much as John Lucas III of the Raptors, who decided that he was going to keep shooting even if his shot wasn’t going down – Lucas was 3-12 from the field (all 3 of the makes were three pointers, of which he attempted 7).

Game 3: Portland 78 – Washington 73

In what turned out to be a Summer League thriller, the Blazers got an outstanding 28-point performance from young guard Jerryd Bayless. Bayless played like a scorer tonight, making 5-12 field goal attempts but he was so willing to go inside and play amongst the trees. His penetration and tough play in the paint led to a whopping 23 free-throw attempts, making 18 of them. Bayless’ relentless push towards the basket was fun to watch and he gave owner Paul Allen, who was sitting courtside, a nice view of his new investment.

Studs: Andray Blatche looked very solid in the paint for the Wizards, finishing with 17 points and 8 rebounds. Blatche has come a long way since being the kid that came out of high school and dropped into the second round of the draft, but he’s showing that his production from last season was certainly no fluke. Petteri Koponen played really well for the Blazers, scoring 19 points on 7-13 shooting, running the point at times as well. He had a team-leading 3 assists. JaVale McGee had nice debut as well, finishing with 11 points and 3 blocks.

Duds: Nicolas Batum’s stock plummeted after rumors of a heart condition started to spread before the Draft, but everyone acknowledged that he had talent. He didn’t do a good job of showing it today, though, finishing with 3 points on 1-6 shooting.

Game 4: Houston 100 – Phoenix 97

So, Donte Greene can play a little bit, huh? After sliding down draft boards, Greene gave every team that passed on him a moment of regret with a 40-point performance against the Suns. Greene put on an offensive clinic, scoring from behind the arc (5-10), pulling up on jumpers (12-20), and getting to the line almost at will (11-12) with his ability to drive to the hole. Now, Greene isn’t going to be able to do this in the League, but his willingness to just take over offensively will go a long way in potentially getting playing time under Rick Adelman.

Studs: Robin Lopez also had a very successful debut, showing that he’s a lot more than the defensive presence many thought he would be. Lopez finished with 19 points and 5 rebounds, showing that he was willing to run up and down the court in addition to playing the tough-nosed D he was famous for in college. He was supported with outstanding wing play by “veterans” DJ Strawberry and Alando Tucker. Strawberry went off for 22 points, 5 assists, and 6 rebounds while Tucker had 22 of his own to go with 2 assists and 6 boards; both went to the free-throw line a lot because of their attacking mentalities, both getting at least 10 FTs. Can Strawberry and Tucker provide the Suns with some actual depth this season? The Rockets also got some nice support play from Michael Harris (21 points, 13 rebounds) and Maarty Leunen (16 points, 4 rebounds).

Duds: To be honest, nobody really stunk it up in this contest, which is why it was so entertaining. You’d like to see a little bit more efficiency from Aaron Brooks, who went 4-14 for his 13 points, but he wasn’t necessarily a disappointment.

Game 5: Dallas 88 – Minnesota 74

Kevin Love’s debut went exactly the way his college career did – a seemingly easy double-double. A noticeably slimmer Love struggled during the first half, admitting that he was a little bit nervous and needed some time to adjust to the increased speed of the game. But after he did that, the game came to Kevin, as he finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds. After the game, Love talked about how much he hates losing, citing his great record last season with UCLA as a reason he’s simply not used to this feeling; he vowed that it was “unacceptable” to love and he’d have to come in and do more to help the team win. Oh, and Love’s vaunted outlet pass was nicely on display – that thing is an absolute gem of a weapon that Randy Wittman is likely salivating over.

Studs: A really nice game from Shan Foster, who got some more playing time and was clearly a better player when he got into the flow of the game. He finished with 17 points, shooting 8-13 mostly on jumpshots, which is sort of what the Mavericks want (outside shooting). JaJuan Smith was the three-point threat for the Mavs tonight, as he knocked down 4 out of his 6 shots from behind the arc for his 19 points. Blake Ahearn played nicely for the Wolves, finishing with 17 points; he was willing to take the ball to the rack aggressively, resulting in 8 FTs, and he made all of them. Reyshawn Terry also had a nice game for the Mavs, scoring 15 points on 5-6 shooting and 4-6 from the charity stripe; Terry was a second-round pick for the team in ’07 and played overseas last year.

Duds: You never like to bash on a young kid trying to find his way in the league, but Corey Brewer really struggled out there offensively. Everyone knows what Corey can do from a defensive perspective, but he clearly needs to work on his offensive game, as he scored 11 points on 5-18 shooting. He did some nice other things, like grab 7 rebounds, but he’s capable of really being a great player if he gets his offensive game in order. Look for him to improve as the VSL continues.

Game 6: San Antonio 78 – Memphis 76

Welcome back, Darrell Arthur. With 23 points and 6 boards, Arthur returned to form after two days of struggling with his shot; he was 10-15 from the field and was, once again, very active on both ends of the court. You have to love the versatility with which Arthur can score – we showed some moves on the block, a jumper, and took it to the hole when needed as well. He might not ever be a star, but he’s showing that he’s going to be a nice role player in this league.

Studs: OK, this needs to be written down – PJ Tucker is too good to not be on a team somewhere. NBA or not, Tucker is flat-out productive; he finished yet another game as the Grizzlies’ leading rebounder with 9 boards and 12 points. He’s just a tough guy who’s willing to go in and dive for balls, using that bulky 6-5, 225-pound body to his advantage. OJ Mayo didn’t have a great shooting night (5-17), but he’s learning to get to the hole when the shot isn’t going in, making 6 of 6 FTs to complete his 18 points. George Hill, the little PG the Spurs drafted in the first round out of IUPUI, looks like he’s going to be a nice player, as he finished with 17 points and tied for the team lead in rebounds with 8. Ian Mahinmi also looked good, going for 18 and 8.

Duds: Malik Hairston didn’t make any of his 6 shot attempts. Javaris Crittenton looked a bit tired (this is the Grizzlies’ fourth game in as many nights), and didn’t have great lift on his jumper, shooting 2-9; he’ll be fine with some rest.

Preetom Bhattacharya is the Senior Newslines editor and has covered the NBA for HoopsWorld for three years

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