By Maurice Brooks
The sight of Robert "Tractor" Traylor running up and down the floor for the Cavaliers is exactly what summer league hoops is all about. The veteran, who last played in the NBA in 2005, is trying to earn a roster spot.
He is performing well for a guy who hasn't been in the league in a few years -- making three of his first four shots, while pulling down a board and giving out an assist.
Traylor finished with eight points and three rebounds in 17 minutes.
Meanwhile, New York's Danilo Gallinari is not off to a good start. The No. 6 pick in the draft has missed his first five shots before splashing a jumper with just over two minutes left in the third quarter.
ESPN's rookie guru David Thorpe weighs in on what he's seen so far from Gallinari.
"Basically the first adjustment he has to make is to the style of play in summer league with these athletes compared to a physical but smooth, smartly played European game. These are boys for the most part, compared to the men he is used to playing against. There isn't any kind of rhythm to what's going on. He's obviously a good shooter, but the NBA line is further back than the European line -- so he has to change his shooting habit, meaning he has to bend his knees more to make up for the difference in range.
"Physically, he looks great. He's not a stick figure, he has a great body. One thing I love, even though he missed his first five shots, it didn't impact how hard he played and because of that he has now scored eight points in the last two minutes. The teaching point: You can't let success on shots impact effort. He has that figured out. He kept fighting and now look, the Knicks have the lead thanks to his play."
The Knicks lead 68-67 after three quarters thanks to Gallinari, who knocked down two long jumpers, followed up a missed shot with a dunk and made two free throws after drawing a foul on a strong post move.
He has picked up in the fourth quarter where he left off in the third. To the crowd's delight, he just nailed another jumper and is clearly in a groove now.
Everyone in Knicksland feels good as the Knicks edged the Cavaliers by three and Gallinari showed that he is a player. After a scoreless first half, he finished with 14 points on 5-for-11 shooting (0-for-4 on treys). He pulled down six rebounds and handed out two assists.
The No. 26
New York's Wilson Chandler didn't have ice on his elbow after the game, but it has to be sore after firing up 21 shots. He played extremely well, making 11 of those attempts to finish with 26 points. With Quentin Richardson and Stephon Marbury in the crowd, he also tallied eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks.
Cleveland rookie J.J. Hickson, who played only one year at N.C. State, matched Chandler's 26 with 26 of his own. He went 11-for-15 and grabbed nine rebounds.
Here is what the No. 19 pick had to say after the game.
"I was trying to be aggressive. I competed well, but not well enough because we didn't win," Hickson said. "My role is to play hard and block shots. I wouldn't have come out of college early if I didn't think I was ready to play on this level."
Thorpe, who just updated his Rookie Report, liked what he saw from Hickson.
"He got his points with a skilled face-up game. He gave a great effort and was very active and physical. He finished well around the rim."
Nuggets vs. Raptors
I've watched the entire first half of this contest and have yet to be moved to write anything. Joey Graham continues to play as if he has a point to prove and leads all scorers with 11 points. Dahntay Jones is high man for the Nuggets, who lead 39-34, with eight.
Although he hasn't scored a point, I'm happy that Nuggets guard Chris Lofton is on the floor. The former University of Tennessee standout, who made more triples than anyone is SEC history, had a cancerous tumor removed from one of his testicles in March 2007.
He didn't get drafted, but is now trying to catch on with Denver.
Blazers vs. Wizards: Bayless Is the Truth
It took Jerryd Bayless all of 15 seconds to be whistled for his first summer league foul. That was about the only thing that didn't go his way during the first 10 minutes of his professional career. Playing mostly off the ball, he went to the line eight times -- making six -- and led all players with 10 points. Despite his lack of size, the Portland guard had no problem creating his own shot.
Petteri Koponen did a good job of running the team, and although he didn't have an assist, he did score five points as the Blazers took a two-point lead after one quarter.
Washington big man JaVale McGee is still trying to work the kinks out of his game, missing five of his first six shots in eight minutes.
It's halftime and Bayless has run his point total up to 17. It's not supposed to be this easy.
In the second half, Bayless has continued his strong play, but it has been Koponen who has impressed with his outside shot. He just hit back-to-back long jumpers and has 19 points for the game.
Bayless just fired in two pivotal free throws with 12.3 seconds left to give himself a game-high 27 points and the Blazers a four-point lead.
He finished with 28 points (5-for-12 from the field, 18-for-23 from the line) in a Portland victory.
DraftExpress President Jonathan Givony
DraftExpress president Jonathan Givony has joined me courtside to give his thoughts on the first half of Wizards vs. Blazers.
TrueHoop: What did you think of Portland's Jerryd Bayless in the first half?
DraftExpress: Probably the most impressive first-half performance by any rookie in the summer league so far. He played a similar role to how Portland will use him in their real offense at the 2 alongside a big point guard -- Koponen/Roy. I love how aggressive he was, trying to get to the rim, finishing with both hands. He's athletic, skilled and doesn't fall in love with his jumper like a lot of combo guards these days tend to do. He also competed admirably on defense and tried to take a charge.
TrueHoop: I think Portland's Petteri Koponen did a nice job of handling the rock and can play both guard positions.
DraftExpress: He was very impressive, much better than last year. I'm very intrigued by his combination of size, ballhandling skills, athleticism and basketball IQ. He showed a lot of poise and has a pretty stroke and didn't look bad defensively.
TrueHoop: Washington's JaVale McGee didn't look good at all out there. What did you notice?
DraftExpress: No surprise here whatsoever. This is how he looked in college often. The Wizards would be the first ones to tell you that he is two or three years away. Still, you can't ignore his physical tools. The guy is a freak, look at his arms an
d athleticism. He just needs to learn how to play.
Getting Up and Down
At Thomas & Mack, the Suns and Rockets are playing at break-neck speed. As a result, Houston's Donte Greene is in position to break the summer league record for points in a game (42). The forward hit 7 of 10 shots and 7 of 8 free throws for a first-half total of 23 points. He scored 19 in the first quarter.
He got his buckets in a bunch of different ways -- off the dribble, cutting to the basket, knocking down jumpers. He hustled for loose balls and played hard on both ends of the floor.
Phoenix, which leads 64-51, received strong contributions from Robin Lopez and D.J. Strawberry.
Lopez went 4-of-5 from the field and the line en route to 12 points. He had a monster dunk and a big rejection.
Strawberry, who led summer league in helpers last year, has 17 points, five dimes and four rebounds.
Greene finished the game with 40 points. He went 12-for-20 from the floor, 5-of-10 from deep and 11-of-12 from the charity stripe in Houston's 100-97 comeback win.
Lopez, who is known for his defense, showed he has offensive skills, too. His final numbers: 19 points (5-of-13 shooting) and five rebounds.
The Love Era Has Begun
Somebody tell Kevin Love that in the NBA you have to move your feet. He picked up four fouls in seven minutes and now finds himself sitting on the bench. Before he left, he did some good things. He put the ball on the floor, drew a foul and was awarded the basket on a goaltending call for his first two pro points. He also knocked down a 15-foot jumper and passed well in the half-court set. On the defensive side, he snatched a board, and his first outlet pass ended up out of bounds. The point guards are going to need time to learn to appreciate his ability to get them the ball in stride.
Midway through the second quarter, the Mavericks have doubled Minnesota's point total.
It's a safe bet that Love is going to lead summer league in rebounds. He attacks the glass as if his life depends on it. If the ball comes off anywhere near him, it's his. In the first half, he struggled from the line, missing three of seven, but still finished with eight points and five rebounds.
In the second half, he is trying to score more. He has two putbacks. He made a layup off a nice pass from Corey Brewer. He just hit a hook shot. The good: Love has 16 points and 10 rebounds. The bad: He has six fouls and his team is still down 20.
Love finished the game with 18 points and 13 rebounds. The Mavericks got the 88-74 win.