HoopsHype.com Articles

Learning quickly
by Preetom Bhattacharya / July 17, 2008

Kevin LoveGame 1: San Antonio 82 – New York 67

What a nice way to start the day – a 25 point blowout that included Renaldo Balkman spraining his left ankle, Danilo Gallinari officially being shut down for Summer League, and Nate Robinson showing up and having a pretty bad game. Although he didn’t have a particularly great shooting night, Ian Mahinmi of the Spurs was the story of the game, notching a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds – he was fouled plenty of times, as the Knicks hopes he wouldn’t hit his free-throws, but Mahinmi stepped up and knocked down six of seven.

Studs: In addition to Mahinmi, James Gist had yet another game of aggressive play, leading to a double-double of his own with 10 points and 10 rebounds. His activity on the offensive end of the court was really notable, as he frequently went inside looking for offensive boards (he had 4). Paul Miller played well for the Knicks, finishing with 9 rebounds to go with his 12 points on 5-7 shooting. Anthony Roberson, who agreed to terms on a deal with the Knicks earlier in the day, also was solid, leading the team with 12 points.

Duds: Reigning Summer League MVP Nate Robinson played for the first time here in Vegas ... and looked rusty, to put it nicely. He was 2-10 from the field, finishing with 8 points to go with his 4 rebounds and 4 assists. Mardy Collins had a nice game in the Knicks’ debut, but he struggled, going 1-8 from the field for his 5 points. The Spurs hope George Hill can shake off this performance and play a lot better in the next game – he was 0-6 from the field, but he did notch 6 boards and 4 assists.

Game 2: Dallas 93 – Sacramento 71

In a game riddled with fouls (both teams combined for 78 free throws), there was very little offensive to really get things going, but Gerald Green found a way. In a breakout game for the young high-flyer, Green finished with 18 points and 7 rebounds, shooting very from the line (6-6). He even showed some real range, knocking down 2 of his 3 shots from beyond the arc.

Studs: Jason Thompson was really aggressive in this game and was much less of a finesse player than he was in his last game. Willing to bang around inside, Thompson finished with 11 points and 8 rebounds. Fellow big man Spencer Hawes led the Kings with 17 points and also grabbed 6 boards of his own.

Duds: Reyshawn Terry’s 3-11 shooting performance was tough to watch, but the real dud in this game is Shelden Williams. Williams, who chose to skip the game (excused by the Kings) to attend the ESPY Award in Los Angeles with his fiancée/WNBA star Candace Parker, is quickly becoming a fringe player in the NBA. With competition for his job, he may be at serious risk of not having his option picked up.

Game 3: Philadelphia 86 – Washington 72

Two wins in a row now for the 76ers and the play of Marreese Speights has to excite Sixer fans. Speights finished with 24 points, 13 rebounds, and 2 rebounds, continuing to exert his dominance in the paint here in Vegas. What makes Speights so productive here is his ability to use his combination of strength and athleticism to dictate the inside game, nice news for a Sixer squad with yet one more weapon off the bench.

Studs: Jason Smith also notched a double-double with 24 points and 11 rebounds, slightly behind Speight’s number. Smith and Speights have been so productive because their styles mesh very well, with Smith able to play a bit more on the perimeter with Speights bowling around inside – behind Samuel Dalembert and Elton Brand, these young reserves could do some damage when the stars rest. We wrote in this space that Jamont Gordon would eventually turn it around and he finally did so, scoring 10 points on 5-10 shooting and staying within himself to contribute within the system. He also netted 4 rebounds and 7 assists, really showing what he’s capable of.

Duds: It feels wrong to write this about a guy that has just been out here and dominating the game when he plays, but Thaddeus Young struggled, shooting 3-13 from the field for only 8 points. Young is capable of so much more, so it isn’t that he lacks the talent, but he clearly needs to show his production again so he doesn’t leave Vegas on a downward trend.

Game 4: Los Angeles Lakers 95 – Minnesota 93

Well, Kevin Love clearly learns quickly. After finishing with 18/13 in his first game, he admitted that he was a bit nervous and rushed some things, but in Game 2, Love turned into a beast with 18 points (9-18 shooting) and 17 rebounds. This is precisely the kind of solid and consistent play most expected from Love; now, it’s translation into the NBA won’t be easy, but as we can see here, Love learns quickly and is willing to adjust his game, as shown by him leading the team with 4 assists.

Studs: Congratulations to Corey Brewer, who really turned around his performance after being criticized by many for his performance in Game 1. In this contest, he led the team with 19 points on 7-10 shooting. Much better. Nik Caner-Medley of the Lakers, an American player currently in the Greek league, has had a few nice games in a row now, leading the Lakers with 19 points and 6 rebounds to go along with that. Lorenzo Mata-Real also played well, scoring 12 points (4-6 shooting) and grabbing 7 rebounds.

Duds: This is rare, but most players for both squads were playing well, leading to a very entertaining match.

Game 5: Los Angeles Clippers 82 – Memphis 74

In another entertaining game, OJ Mayo took to the floor for the first time in Summer League without both Javaris Crittenton and Mike Conley, who were shelved to rest (and the coaches now know what they can do). Playing the point, Mayo was a little jittery, finishing with 20 points, 5 assists and 4 turnovers and he also forced the issue on his own shot a few times. Taking way too many threes (2-8 from there), Mayo finished with 8-22 showing from the field because of defensive pressure and a willingness to take some ill-advised shots.

Studs: Marcus Williams played great for the Clippers, leading the team in both points (23) and rebounds (10). He went 6-11 from the field, which is nice, but he also got to the line a ton because he remained aggressive (11-11). Al Thornton came back into form and played great all-around basketball, finishing with 20 and 8 himself alongside DeAndre Jordan, who blocked 6 shots.

Duds: The ups and downs continue for Darrell Arthur, who once against lost his shooting form – he finished 4-13 from the field for 12 points, but he’s got to be consistent. He’ll learn this in time because he’s a great young player. Mike Taylor, the Clips’ second rounder, wasn’t bad (7 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds) didn’t play particularly poorly, but he’ll have to do more to earn any minutes behind Baron Davis and Brevin Knight.

Game 6: Houston 73 – Cleveland 72

Donte Greene just couldn’t replicate his 40-point debut, struggling to hit the outside jumper as frequently as, finishing 4-17 from the field for 17 points. He did well when he was aggressive and got to the line, where he nailed all six of his chances, Fellow Rockets rookie Joey Dorsey had a nice debut today in Vegas, going 4-4 from the field for his 8 points. He also pulled down a whopping 14 rebounds, but he missed all six of his FTs.

Studs: Aaron Brooks looked very solid, notching 16 points and 7 assists, the assists being much more important for a guard everyone already knew could score. JJ Hickson once again played well in the paint, going for 18 points and 6 rebounds; he was 7-15 from the field, maintaining his flow in the game.

Duds: A 1-7 showing from Russell Robinson was disappointing, as he missed both of his three-pointers as well. A former Jayhawk, Robinson is supposed to be an efficient scorer in addition to being able to set up his teammates, as he started for the championship team, but he has yet to show why he should get an NBA shot like some of his teammates. He does have the talent and ability, he just has to produce.

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

Tell us what you think about this article. E-mail us at HoopsHype@HoopsHype.com