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Chandler Goes Off
Three of New York's potential starting five -- Renaldo Balkman (sprained left ankle), Danilo Gallinari (sore lower back) and Nate Robinson (no reason at all) -- are in street clothes for their matchup today against the Suns. What that means is more shots for forward Wilson Chandler who has already fired up 32 shots in the Knicks' first two games.
Chandler hasn't disappointed. He looks very comfortable on the floor, making 5-of-9 on the way to a game-high 12 points in the first half. Equally impressive are the block, steal and five rebounds he's pulled down for the Knicks, who lead by five at halftime.
Phoenix big man Robin Lopez had better enjoy today. When the season tips off for real there aren't going to be too many games when he has to go up against the combination of Paul Miller and Zhang Songtao. Lopez is having a field day against those two, hitting on 6-of-9 for 13 points. He also has five rebounds.
Someone at press row wearing a Suns.com shirt just asked me if Chandler deserves MVP consideration? That is an indication of how well he has played today. He has used his mid-range shooting and drives to the basket to torch everyone in a Phoenix uniform. After a slow third quarter, he has erupted for 14 points in the fourth to run his total up to 31. Throw in the fact he has 12 rebounds and this was easily one of the top performances by anyone at summer league.
Chandler, who was mobbed by a group of kids with autograph requests after the game, was averaging 18 points and 7.5 rebounds.
Phoenix's D.J. Strawberry (21 points) just pulled up for a game-tying 3-point attempt in the closing seconds only to have it swatted back in his face by Delonte Holland.
Final: NY 85, PHX 80.
Last night while waiting in line with NBA.com's Dave McMenamin to get into a restaurant at Caesars, former NBA banger Dale Davis walked by.
Two older ladies in front of me asked out loud, "Is that a pro basketball player or something?"
Before me or McMenamin could respond, a guy behind me blurted out with a straight face, "I'm pretty sure that is Kevin Garnett."
Show Me the Video Tape
Word on the street is that OKC's Kevin Durant drained 10 3-pointers on the way to 60 points while suiting up for a squad called the Sweat Mob.
Where's the D.J.?
Charlotte point guard D.J. Augustin will not play in today's game against the Pistons because of knee tendinitis.
In a sign that the Bobcats' coaching staff is more interested in evaluating than winning, 14 different Charlotte players have seen court time today. Coming off the bench, Kyle Weaver, the 38th overall pick of this year's draft, played his best game of the week for the Bobcats. His numbers don't jump off the stat sheet, but if you watched the game you saw him doing a lot of things right. He had 13 total points in the first three Charlotte games. Today he made 4-of-5 for 12 and also had two assists and two boards.
Summer Ball In Utah
On another note, the Utah Summer League begins play tonight with two games: Dallas vs. Atlanta and San Antonio vs. Utah. Here is a good preview.
Breaking Down Washington's McGee
Earlier today on the John Thompson Radio Show, I said that JaVale McGee's offensive game was raw. And he appeared to be proving me right against the Cavaliers, missing all four of his attempts in the first quarter. I don't know what he did at halftime, because he looks like a different player in the third quarter. His footwork is much better and he has shown off the entire big man skill set (dunk, up and under, jump hook). If his offensive game catches up to his defensive talent, he has the potential to be a quality power forward/center. The 7-footer, who is second in the league in blocks, has two rejections today, while altering several others.McGee made 5-of-12 for 11 points. He also had four rebounds and two blocked shots. Here is what he told me after the game.
"I've been playing OK," said McGee, who noted his favorite move is the turnaround jumper. "For some reason, I've been scoring all of my points in the second half. The game on this level is a lot more physical and I have to work on getting stronger."
Andray Blatche continues to be the best player for the Wizards. He has led the club in scoring in all three of their games. He had 22 points and nine rebounds on an assortment of moves around the basket.
No Stopping Douby
Sacramento's Quincy Douby is cooking. I haven't figured out which was better, the 3-pointer he hit in Marco Belinelli's mug where he left his follow through up for what seemed like forever or the driving now you see me, now you don't spin move he used on his way to the last of his 23 (12 in the first quarter, 11 in the second) first-half points.
Golden State's C.J. Watson is lighting it up too. Doing his best Belinelli impersonation, the speedy Watson has gone 7-for-12 from the floor, including 2-of-5 on treys. He hasn't completely abandoned his point guard responsibilities, leading everyone with three assists.
As for Belinelli, he has been invisible. Anytime you have four times as many fouls as points, it's not a good thing. He missed all four of his shots in the first half and his lone point came on a technical free throw.
It's early in the third quarter and Douby has 27 points. Twice this period he has put a little mustard on his passes on the fast break and the ball has ended up at my feet out of bounds instead of in the hands of a teammates. When you are 10-for-13 from the field, what are you doing passing the rock anyway? Let it fly.
Belinelli finally hit a triple and added two free throws to bring his total to six late in the third. Everyone focuses on his shooting, but he is also a very gifted passer.
Meanwhile the Warriors still haven't figured out how to cool off Douby who now has 34. His jumpers have been pretty to watch, but it's his drives to the hole that are keeping everyone off balance.
Golden State's Dion Dowell had the chance to be a hero and he let it slip through his hands. With his team down two in the closing seconds, an inbounds pass by the Kings landed right in his hands. As he went in for the uncontested game-tying layup, he lost the ball on his way up.
Douby finished with 36 points for the Kings, who handed the Warriors their first loss. Spencer Hawes and Jason Thompson both had double-doubles.
Watson led the Warriors with 24 points. Anthony Randolph had 16 and Belinelli went 1-for-10 for six points. He didn't grab a single rebound.
Joey Graham Watch
The same way I slow down my car to stare at car accidents and move closer to people fighting so that I can get a better view, I find myself focusing on Joey Graham during every Toronto game.
I don't know why, I just do.
Graham appears to be the perfect combination of speed and strength -- two skills that play a big part in a successful NBA player. Why then has his career been on a steady decline since he was chosen with the 16th pick out of Oklahoma State in 2005?
He saw action in just 38 games this past season, averaging a paltry 3.6 points and 1.8 rebounds as his confidence dwindled along with his playing time.
"Last season was tough for me," said Graham following the Raptors' 89-71 win over the Lakers in Day 8 action at summer league. "I didn't really play that much."
The fourth-year pro is in Las Vegas trying to get a head start on fixing what has been wrong with his game.
"I want to stay consistent," Graham said. "The coaches asked me to come here and provid
e leadership, play defense and score points. I give myself a B minus."
Graham posted 20 points and five rebounds Friday. That is right in line with his four-game average of 19.3 and six.
"I have some things I need to work on," Graham said. "I want to rekindle the flame."
A couple of teammates have really impressed the power forward.
"[Nathan Jawai] is very athletic and C.J. Giles is like a sponge," Graham said. "He'll be able to learn a lot from guys like Jermaine O'Neal and Chris Bosh."
Like everyone else, Graham can't wait to see how O'Neal and Bosh play together.
"They both have all of the tools," Graham said. "It's going to be exciting to see how Jermaine fits into the chemistry of the team."