ESPN's David Thorpe says that Arron Afflalo has been one of the best players here at summer league. While I've been most impressed with Portland's Jerryd Bayless and Golden State's Marco Belinelli, Afflalo does deserve to be in the conversation.
Here are Thorpe's thoughts on Afflalo.
"Every team likes a backup player to either be solid or to bring a spark off the bench -- think Eddie House, think Jannero Pargo, those are spark guys as two guards. Afflalo is a solid guy. He always knows what to do and where to be. He doesn't waste dribbles or movements. He digs in on defense and makes the right play on offense. Out here he is showing a better ability to score because that's his role. Going forward, that is something we might see, that he is someone that can provide production on offense off the bench for the Pistons."
Wouldn't you know it, on the day I choose to hype "Double A", he goes 1-for-7 from the field for six points in the first half. The Pistons are trailing the Mavs by six.
In the first three games, Afflalo is averaging 19.3 points and 4.0 rebounds.
With Rodney Stuckey out of the lineup again because of his bad toe, Afflalo has taken on more of a playmaker role today. He leads everyone with six assists. It's almost like he's switched places Will Bynum, who got the start at point guard. Bynum is 6-for-8 for 14 points.
Call it the TrueHoop curse. Afflalo missed all six of his shot attempts after intermission, finishing with seven points and six assists. Walter Sharpe showed a nice touch from outside, making his first two treys. Overall, he finished with 16 points and even though he hung out on the perimeter a fair amount of time, was still able to get three offensive boards.
Gerald Green, who scored eight points, closed out Dallas' six-point win with a big dunk.
Leading the Pack
Here are the statistical leaders through day six:
Donte Greene, Rockets: 28.5
Jerryd Bayless, Blazers: 27.0
Marco Belinelli, Warriors: 23.0
J.J. Hickson, Cavaliers: 22.0
Alando Tucker, Suns: 22.0
Kevin Love, Wolves: 15.0
Joey Dorsey, Rockets: 14.0
Elton Brown, Nuggets: 10.5
Shelden Williams, Kings: 10.5
Marreese Speights, Sixers: 10.0
Ramon Sessions, Bucks: 6.5
Bobby Brown, Hornets: 6.0
Aaron Brooks, Rockets: 5.5
Jamont Gordon, Sixers: 5.0
D.J. Strawberry, Suns: 5.0
C.J. Giles, Raptors: 3.5
Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Wolves: 3.0
Javale McGee, Wizards: 2.5
Cheikh Samb, Pistons: 2.0
DeAndre Jordan, Clippers: 2.0
C.J. Watson, Warriors: 4.3
Quincy Douby, Kings: 3.3
Julian Wright, Hornets: 3.0
Donte Greene, Rockets: 2.0
Hassan Adams, Raptors: 2.0
Williams starring again
Clippers forward Marcus Williams went off for 23 points and 10 rebounds last night against the Grizzies. He is following that up today with another strong showing, dropping in 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting in the first half. The key for Williams is shot selection. While a lot of players in Vegas have forced shots, Williams seems to let the game come to him. He also has four rebounds.
Al Thornton (1-for-4 from the field) is having a quiet game for L.A. He seems to be willing to let his teammates do the shooting.
Hornets' forward Hilton Armstrong is in a groove. He has 15 points and five rebounds for New Orleans, which trails by nine going into the last period.
The Hornets won the game by four in overtime. Armstrong stayed hot, totaling 25 points and eight rebounds in easily his best game here. Julian Wright misfired to the tune of 4-for-13, while Bobby Brown helped build the brick house by going 7-for-18. He posted 17 points and six assists.
Jordan's Glass Work
Clippers' forward DeAndre Jordan plays with a lot of emotion. Although that can sometimes be a bad thing, it seems to be working for him -- I'll ignore the airball he just shot from the foul line. He has six points on 3-of-8 shooting and 11 rebounds.
Here is Thorpe's take on the big man.
"If he was a stock on the market, you could pick him up at a pretty low price right now. I just don't think his future looks bright as a second-round pick because they don't have a lot of incentive to invest time with him. His 11 rebounds look great, but most of them came right to him. I don't think that he has got any rebounds out of area. It doesn't impress me that he jumps straight up in his spot and grabs rebounds. He doesn't play with great energy or intelligence and his emotional IQ is very low. He is a young man and he wouldn't be the first to change his career path. It doesn't happen very often."
Late Is Better Than Early
Once again, it seems like the better games are scheduled later. No, Tim Duncan and Steve Nash aren't here, but I'm sure the Suns will get out and run, making their game against the Spurs at 5:30 p.m. PT interesting.
At 7, the closest thing there is to a must-see game at summer league will take place between Jerryd Bayless' Blazers and Kevin Love's Wolves.
Looking ahead to tomorrow, Mike D'Antoni's old team plays his new team at 1.
Strawberry and Lopez
I just got done watching a half of the game between the Spurs and Suns. What can't D.J. Strawberry do? He used his explosive first step to get into the lane at will and once there he caused havoc on San Antonio. Sometimes he drove and kicked it out to open teammates for jumpers. Other times he went to the bucket hard. He seemed to be playing at a different speed than everyone else. What was refreshing is that he gave the same kind of effort on the defensive side of the floor. Completing my observation of him was how he embraced his leadership role. After a busted play between himself and Jared Jordan, he took 20 seconds to explain what he was thinking and where he wanted Jordan to be on the floor.
Strawberry had 11 points and three rebounds at the half for the Suns, who led by eight.
With his three brothers watching, Robin Lopez put on quite a performance. He followed up one miss with a thunderous dunk. He tipped in another miss. He caught a pass on the break and made a gorgeous feed to Strawberry in stride for a jam. And most importantly, he was a force on the glass, grabbing seven boards to go with his 10 points.
After going 0-for-10 and 0-for-6 from the field in his last two games, respectively, San Antonio's George Hill won't hit a shot tonight either. The San Antonio coaching staff gave him the night off.
Philly's Gordon to the rescue
The Sixers ended their time here in Sin City with three straight wins after starting 0-2. Jamont Gordon hit a reverse layup off a feed from Marreese Speights with 0.6 showing on the clock to give Philly an 87-85 win.
Speights had another double-double, posting 15 points and 11 rebounds while blocking four shots. Jason Smith had 12 and 12 and Thaddeus Young led all scorers with 21 points.
C.J. Giles continued to throw his body around, tallying 13 points, 12 boards and three blocked shots for Toronto.
I've noticed the same spectator alternating rooting and heckling at every game since summer league began. He has been rewarded for showing up. After the Wolves' game the other day, he asked Corey Brewer for his handband. Brewer responded
by tossing it to him -- sweat dripping off it and all.
Just now he begged Speights for his jersey. Although it is way too big for him, I bet it will be a nice addition to his collection.
Wolves vs. Blazers
Unlike during the regular season, the officials at summer league don't have numbers on the back of their jerseys. Portland's Jerryd Bayless appeared to get bumped going to the basket, but the ref on the baseline didn't make a call. This prompted a fan in the front row to yell, "You'll never get a number on your back blowing calls like that."
Kevin Love just pleased the crowd with a dunk and is off to a great start. He has scored seven of Minnesota's first 14 points, while Bayless has seven of Portland's first 15.
Once Bayless gets the rock, you know he's going to attack the basket, hence he has already attempted seven more free throws today. I would like to see him knock down a few jumpers and improve on his assist total (he has zero), but it's hard to argue with the way he is playing. He has 11 points and the always steady Petteri Koponen has 10 for the Blazers, who trail 40-36 at halftime.
Love has 13 points and five rebounds, but has missed a couple of shots from close range. He is 3-for-11 from the field.
How about that, Bayless just hit a step-back jumper and threw a no-look pass to Josh Davis for a bucket. As I'm typing, he drained another jumper to cap his 12-point period. He leads everyone with 23 points and at last, he got an assist.
Love has done more than his part, posting 20 points and seven rebounds en route to leading the Wolves to a double-digit lead heading into the fourth.
Portland's Brandon Robinson sat on the bench for three quarters before finally entering the game so obviously he was a little cold. Still, does that explain the long-sleeve shirt under his jersey? He is the second player in seven days to rock that look.
In the Love vs. Bayless matchup, Love came out the winner. For starters, his team won by 10. He went 7-for-20 from the field, 12-for-14 from the line, grabbed 15 rebounds (10 offensive) and had two assists (official stats say one, but there is no way the outlet pass he threw to Pooh Jeter for the and-1 wasn't a dime, even if he didn't receive credit for it).
Bayless, who had a heating pad on his back and ice on both knees after the game (maybe he was sore after crashing into press row and almost sending my computer into my lap), wasn't a slouch. He had 29 points on 8-for-15 from the floor, 13-of-16 from the line (that's 55 attempts in three games), gave out two assists and grabbed six boards.
When it came time to vote for the MVP of summer league last year, I put New York's Nate Robinson at the top of my ballot for two reasons -- he was playing outstanding and the Knicks were undefeated.
Since Portland and Minnesota both have 1-2 records, I may have to change my way of thinking. With apologies to the fans in Golden State (Marco Belinelli is hot, team is 3-0), Bayless and Love are the two best players after seven days in Vegas regardless of what their team's records are.
- Maurice Brooks is an NBA editor for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If I would have known that Knicks' first-round pick Danilo Gallinari might only play one game, I would have watched warm-ups a lot more closely.
- Greg Oden goes one-on-one with J.E. Skeets.
- The big three of Marcus Camby, Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony weren't going to be planning a championship parade anytime soon.
- According to Brent Barry, he has two seasons left as an NBA player. Helping the Rockets win a title would be the perfect ending to his career.
- This is not exactly how Luol Deng and Ben Gordon drew it up.
- By signing Daniel Gibson early, the Cavaliers are proving they have learned from their mistakes.
- Allegedly Canada's national team coach told Samuel Dalembert to take a hike.
- Here is some really good advice for Ron Artest.
- Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: "Danny Ainge is the reigning NBA Executive of the Year. And if the Celtics are to win another championship this season, the director of basketball operations will have to come up with a performance worthy of a repeat. There is more than one way to knit a championship banner, but replacing James Posey will be difficult. ... In the end, the Celtics believed Posey's outside shooting was his biggest tangible contribution and that they can get that from other sources for less money. They believed they would have been tying their hands down the line. Are they correct? Ask that question again in 11 months. In the meantime, Ainge has once again shown he won't take the easy way if he doesn't believe it's the right way. In altering a successful formula, he's clearly put himself on the line, kind of like Posey so willingly stepping behind the 3-point arc late in games."
- Chris Tomasson of the Rocky Mountain News: "Realistically, though, the Nuggets probably will be luxury tax payers next season. If J.R. Smith comes back for the qualifying offer, their payroll could be around $75 million. If he gets $5 million for next season, it could be around $77 million. So Stan Kroenke might not really be a happy man until 2009-10, after Allen Iverson's contract comes off the books. By then, he has a very good chance of not being a tax payer. How good his team will be remains to be seen."
- Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: "T.J. Ford lives for the postseason. He lives for the national television exposure, the hope of winning an NBA title and having 14 other Eastern Conference teams sitting on their couches, eating popcorn, watching him play. Ford wants those same things to happen with the Indiana Pacers. 'I'm familiar with that playoff taste and I'm not ready to give that taste up,' said Ford, who has been to the playoffs in three of his four NBA seasons. 'That's the challenge and the goal, to show people we are contenders in the East.'"
- John Rohde of The Oklahoman: "According to Christopher Arena, the NBA's vice president for apparel, sporting goods and partnerships, 'It's usually a 22-month process' to approve a new nickname, color scheme and whatever else is involved. Twenty two months? So, if this relocation process started roughly the same time Rhett Bomar got booted off the Oklahoma football team two summers ago, we'd be on the cusp of learning the nickname of our new NBA team? Twenty two months? Two months short of two years is too darn long to wait. Perhaps this explains why the Jazz never changed nicknames when they moved from New Orleans to Utah, ditto for the Grizzlies from Vancouver to Memphis, the Lakers from Minneapolis to Los Angeles, et al. They didn't want to wait on all the NBA paperwork. We realize there are a lot of i's to dot and t's to cross in a project like this, but 22 months' worth?"
- Sekou Smith of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "As far as calculated risks go, Speedy Claxton is taking a major one. The Hawks' oft-injured point guard is currently taking part in the Hawks' free-agent minicamp. He will also play summer league, which starts Friday in Salt Lake City. ... He requested the opportunity to join the youngsters and free-agent hopefuls who were on the Hawks' practice floor Wednesday. He needs to know if he can still do this, and do it the way he's been able. 'I'm not worried about what anybody else thinks and who might be out there gunning for me,' said Claxton, a seven-year veteran who already has an NBA title on his resume. 'I'm doing this for me, trying to check and see how my knee feels and how I can play and how I can do on consecutive days. I haven't been out here in a long time.'"
- John Smallwood of the Philadelphia Daily News: "The players can only hope that management still feels as good about them now as it did last summer. The odds are the Sixers will come to Iguodala with a suitable contract offer -- probably similar to the one he originally rejected. They know what he brings to the table and want to keep him happy. They didn't sign Brand simply to create another problem by having to replace Iguodala. The plan is for Brand and Iguodala to take the Sixers to the next level. Thanks to the Clippers and Denver Nuggets, that should now be a bit easier to accomplish."
- Raphael Bartholomew of The New York Times: "For N.B.A. players making their first visit to the Philippines, the adoration of fans can be flattering and startling. 'They make you feel like you're a god,' said Gilbert Arenas, who recently spent three days promoting his new line of sneakers. 'When my N.B.A. career is done, I have to play here one year just to feel that.' Arenas, 26, sometimes jokes that being the Washington Wizards' franchise player makes him 'the black president.' Sure enough, this tour gave him a taste of presidential life."
- Kurt Kragthorpe of The Salt Lake Tribune: "If Larry Miller's extended hospital stay illustrates anything, it is that the hardest-working Utahn of us all is mortal, and that he's not going to be making all the big decisions about the Jazz forever. Not even his son could say Wednesday exactly what the division of labor or the time table for transition will be, such as who will represent the team among the owners on the NBA Board of Governors. Yet he knows that somebody in the organization has to be the one ultimately making decisions about player contracts, luxury taxes and other issues. At some point, obviously, he will be the guy. That will require some adjustment. 'I would consider myself to be a big Jazz fan. I don't think it would be accurate to say I'm as interested as Larry is,' Greg Miller said. 'The fact is, I don't have as much at stake at the moment as Larry does.'Someday, that will be the case.'"
- Dwight Jaynes of The Portland Tribune: "Take it easy, Blazer fans. Jerryd Bayless could set the Vegas Summer League on fire this week, but it wouldn't mean a whole heck of a lot. Let's back up and add a little perspective before getting carried away with this talent. Success in the summer league doesn't exactly mean you're going to be a consistent NBA player when the regular season starts. Who was the most valuable player in Las Vegas last summer? Nate Robinson of the New York Knicks, who started a grand total of 17 games last season for the Knicks. And who won the MVP the year prior to that? Well, it was Minnesota's Randy Foye, who may or may not someday be a pretty decent NBA player."
- The Iranian Olympic Team is making a trip to Utah.
- Examining the pastime that is pickup basketball.
- It looks like it is time for a lot of free agents to come up with a plan B.
- Maybe James Posey felt uncomfortable at an event to promote Boston's new championship DVD because he knew he was New Orleans-bound.
- Mayo and Love have both been very successful at summer league so far. Should we be surprised?
- Like all of the other players out here in Las Vegas, the Sixers' trio of Marreese Speights, Jason Smith and Thaddeus Young are learning on the fly.
- I was wondering why Portland's Petteri Koponen seemed so confident on the court. The pressure of an NBA game is nothing compared to what he has already been through.
- The Hornets have championship dreams. If they are going to achieve their goal, expect a big contribution from Julian Wright.
Gallinari out with sore back
I was running late today -- as usual -- and I get to the arena for the Knicks vs. Spurs game in time to read this from the Associated Press."New York Knicks rookie Danilo Gallinari has a sore lower back and is listed as doubtful for the remainder of the Las Vegas summer league.
The forward from Italy, the No. 6 overall pick, was hurt during the Knicks' opener, a 97-94 victory over Cleveland on Monday. He rebounded from a scoreless first half to finish with 14 points, shooting 5-for-7 after halftime.
Gallinari didn't dress for New York's game against San Antonio on Wednesday. An MRI revealed no significant findings, and he will rest and get treatments the rest of the week in Las Vegas before returning to Italy."
Knicks vs. Spurs
Reigning NBA Summer League MVP Nate Robinson, who didn't play in New York's opening game, is off to a slow start shooting (1-for-5), but has handed out three assists.
It's late in the third quarter and the game is tied at 53. Bad news for New York fans, Renaldo Balkman was just carried off the court with an apparent ankle injury.Robinson's shooting didn't improve as the game went on. He finished 2-for-10 from the floor (including missing five of six treys) as the Knicks lost 82-67.
For the second straight game, San Antonio's George Hill didn't make a shot. He missed all 10 of his attempts Tuesday and was 0-for-6 from the field today. His poor shooting didn't prevent him from rebounding (six boards) or passing well (four assists).
Big men James Gist and Ian Mahinmi both had a double-double in the win.
Roberson's big deal
Earlier today, it was reported that the Knicks are going to sign Anthony Roberson to a two-year deal. Through three quarters, he is 3-for-10 for a total of 10 points off the bench. Does this mean the end of the Stephon Marbury era in New York?
Roberson finished the game 4-for-13, but led the Knicks in scoring with 12 points. He also had two assists and two rebounds.
Reggie the Cameraman
It's early in the first quarter and Kings head coach Reggie Theus is in the stands videotaping the game between Sacramento and Dallas. I have no clue why he's personally doing that, but he has to like what he's seeing. Sacramento 10, Dallas 3.
Man has this game been brutal to watch. The Mavericks led by 14 at halftime and by 20 after three quarters. Gerald Green has knocked down a few jumpers and leads all scorers with 18 points for Dallas. He's also grabbed seven boards in easily his best showing of the summer. The athletic Charles Rhodes has also reached double digits in points for the Mavs.
The only noteworthy thing I can bring up about the Kings is, why does Jason Thompson keep ice-grilling the Mavericks after routine dunks when his team is down 20 plus? I never dunked in my life, so maybe I can't relate.
Thorpe on Sacramento's Jason Thompson and Sean Singletary
David Thorpe of ESPN.com weighs in on a pair of Kings.
"Thompson is an immediate upgrade to the Kings frontline as an athlete. They had the least athletic frontline in the league last year. He's got a nice combination of skills with size and projects as someone who can play well next to Spencer Hawes. Geoff Petrie likes his offensive sets to include pinch-post action. For that action to work effectively, the big has to be able to make that shot or get to the rim while being a good passer. Both Thompson and Hawes look like they'll be able to do those things.
"Making a game-winning shot in an NBA Summer League game, while playing well in general, sends him into the rest of the offseason thinking positive thoughts. The alternative to that would have been scary because he's coming from Rider. You don't want him questioning if he can play on this level. That thought is no longer an issue."
On Singletary: "Beno Udrih is the starting point guard in Sacramento, but he is more of a score first, pass second type of point guard. That style works for him. If the Kings want more of a true lead guard, Sean may be the answer. He was a prolific scorer in Virginia, but has been a pass-first guy in summer league. Kevin Martin told me Saturday that he really likes the "way that kid plays and passes."
Wake Me At 8:30 p.m. ET
The first two games of the day were both blowouts and neither featured a great individual performance. Hopefully things will get better in the late games when the trio of Kevin Love, O.J. Mayo and Donte Greene take the floor in three separate games. I'm most interested to see how Green follows up his 40-point effort.
The Sixers and Wizards on playing right now. When Philly took Marreese Speights, I didn't boo, but I didn't cheer either. I took a wait-and-see approach. Although it's summer league, I'm impressed by what I've seen so far. The big body has a nice touch around the basket and brings energy to the floor. He is definitely good enough to crack Philly's regular rotation. Today he has combined with Jason Smith to score 20 of the Sixers' first 22 points.
Speights and Smith both had monster games as the Sixers rolled. Speights had 24 points and 13 rebounds, while Smith had 24 and 11.
Kevin Love aka Chairman of the Boards
Kevin Love, who needs a good nickname by the way, is ridiculous. No really he is. Anyone who can get 20 points and 10 rebounds on a nightly basis without ever having a play called for them is special. He had all of his gifts on display in the second quarter of Minnesota's game against the Lakers. He drove to the hole for a bucket and a foul. He followed up a missed shot with a layup. He filled the lane for another basket on the break. He penetrated and kicked it out to a teammate, who drained a jumper. And of course, he threw his signature outlet passes. Through three quarters, he has 16 points, 13 rebounds and four assists -- which is more than anyone on either team. Problem is, the Wolves still enter the last people trailing by two. There are going to be a lot more games that follow that pattern in his future.
The Lakers' Joe Crawford hit a layup in the closing seconds to ruin Love's big night. Love finished with 18 points (9-for-18), 17 rebounds and two blocked shots. Teammate Corey Brewer also had a strong game in defeat, dropping in 19 points.
Greene Is Smooth
In the final game of the night, Donte Greene has splashed three jumpers -- one triple, two doubles -- for the Rockets in the first quarter. He kind of glides around the court, chomping on his gum at a frantic pace, on offense until it's time to raise up and unleash his jumper, which keeps hitting the bottom of the net. Eight minutes into the period and he has seven points already.
Joey Dorsey entered the game midway through the first quarter for the Rockets. The power forward has been doing what he does -- he got called for a charge and pulled down two rebounds in six minutes.
With his height, if Greene continues to shoot the ball this well, he will be a nightmare to defend. He scored 10 points on 3-of-6 shooting in the first period.
Greene has cooled off but Dorsey continues to be a problem. He just had back-to-back dunks, has pulled down eight rebounds and leads everyone with three assists.
Remember all that stuff I was saying earlier about Greene? Forget about it. He has missed seven straight in a variety of ways.
Cleveland's J.J. Hickson isn't having a much better go of it. He has missed six of nine shots, but still leads the Cavs with nine points.
If you are the best boxer in the world, why do you have to travel with an 11-person entourage? Floyd Mayweather and friends have seen enough of this contest, leaving midway through the
fourth quarter with the Cavs up four.
Houston's Maarty Leunen is having a day. He is 5-of-6 from the field (3-of-4 on treys) and leads everyone with 17 points.
Hickson closed out the game in style by making four of his last six shots and led the Cavaliers with 18 points.
Greene took 17 shots (making four) to score 17 points. Teammate Aaron Brooks had an outstanding all-around game, posting 16 points, including the game-winning free throws in the closing seconds, and seven assists.
- Maurice Brooks is an NBA editor for ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Six quarters into his summer league experience, Milwaukee first-round pick Joe Alexander hasn't exactly set the world on fire. He scored seven points on 2-for-13 shooting in his opening game against the Grizzlies. Today against the Pistons, he hit a pair of short jumpers in the first quarter, but still doesn't appear completely comfortable.
Here is what ESPN's David Thorpe has noticed.
"He's still playing way too fast. He's not reading the game at all. Joe's knowledge and feel for the game aren't great and not only is he running too fast, but he is running too fast the wrong way -- if that makes any sense. He needs to stay away from the baseline and take advantage of his size and gifts. The last two times he touched the ball, he did that. He backed his man down and hit a nice turnaround jumper. Then, he did it again and made a simple pass to a teammate instead of rushing a shot when nothing is there. Just now he did a pick-and-pop, caught the ball on the wing and did a settle dribble. His teammate cut and he hit him in stride for a layup. He is definitely starting to figure it out. As long as he keeps making simple plays, his talents can come through in other areas."
Alexander is 5-for-9 from the floor with two assists and two rebounds. He has been floating around on the perimeter, mainly shooting jumpers and that is the biggest reason he hasn't attempted a free throw today.
I caught up with Alexander -- who finished with 11 points, three rebounds and two assists -- after the game.
"All I can do is continue to work hard," Alexander said. "I judge how I played, by how I feel mentally. I think I did some good things today."
Alexander had a simple explanation for the reason he didn't reach the charity stripe.
"I'm taking what's coming to me," Alexander said. "I shoot when I'm open. I want to stay calm and mentally in control. I'm trying to pick things up."
Although it has only been a couple of games, Alexander says there is a big difference between playing in college and playing in the pros.
"The guys are definitely bigger and faster," Alexander said. "Also, whenever you shoot, out of the corner of your eye you see hands. They really get to the ball. In college, if you were open, you were open."
Bynum vs. Sessions
The point guard battle between Detroit's Will Bynum and Milwaukee's Ramon Sessions has been fun to watch. Bynum causes havoc all over the floor. Three quarters into the game, he officially hasn't been credited with a steal, but he has forced several Milwaukee dribblers to lose control of the ball. On the offensive side, he continues to break players down off the dribble and set up teammates for good looks.
Sessions has had the hot hand shooting -- making 5-of-8 shots for a game-high 16 points -- while also grabbing five rebounds and giving out a pair of assists. Despite his point total, he knows his role is to get his teammates the rock and he has been very effective doing that.
Sessions had final numbers of 21 points, six boards and four assists. He has the tools to be a starting quarterback in the league.
This e-mail from TrueHoop reader Luke pretty much sums up Danilo Gallinari's debut.
"I'm watching the Cleveland vs. New York summer league game in the midst of errands. Within minutes of turning on the game, I see Danilo Gallinari assist a three. I leave the room. I return, just in time to see Gallinari cleanly foil a wide-open, fastbreak dunk. Again, I leave the room. When I come back, Gallinari's picking up an awkward pass on the baseline. He moves toward the perimeter in reset-speed, then turns and fires an easy college three. I'm already impressed.
"Then, I leave the room again. This time, I happen to return as a Knick shot bounces high off the rim, and Gallinari reaches back for a stretched-out, two-handed, put-back slam (with force). Before I can say, "What kind of fool would boo this kid?!", he drops another college three. In the meantime, as I type this, he just splashed two more long jumpers -- one after breaking a little ankle. Who booed this pick? Couldn't have been any Knicks fans, right?"
Possible 2009 NBA Finals Preview: Sixers vs. Lakers?
Once again, I'm impressed by Coby Karl. He has good handle, can shoot it from distance and I haven't seen a player with more heart (hustle plays, takes charges) all week. He has nine points for the Lakers who have a 38-37 lead on the Sixers.
I'm a Sixers fan and "WE" just got Elton Brand so I can dream, right?
Philly got 16 points each from Marreese Speights, Thaddeus Young and Jason Smith on the way to an eight-point win.
Karl led L.A. with 18, while Joe Crawford threw in 16.
Learning What To Do From Marc Stein
I haven't really enjoyed carrying my laptop with me all over Las Vegas. Apparently, ESPN's Marc Stein has the solution to that problem -- leave it in the hotel and simply borrow a co-workers. This explains why there haven't been any new LIVE BLOG posts in the past two hours -- Stein was busy using my computer to report on the Marcus Camby to the Clippers trade.
Bobby Brown Shows Off Again
Speaking of Stein, he wore a Cal State Fullerton shirt to the arena today in honor of Hornets' guard Bobby Brown, who like Stein, attended the university.
Stein should be proud, as Brown continued to be one of the stars of summer league, tallying game highs in points (15) and assists (8) in New Orleans' 76-68 victory over the Spurs.
Hill's Night To Forget
Whenever my kids act up and I have to discipline them, I usually start off my lecture with something they did right before I hit them with the list of things they did wrong.
I'm going to take a similar approach to describe George Hill's performance against the Hornets.
What went right: The guard had seven rebounds, four assists and for the most part, did a good job directing the Spurs' offensive attack.
What went wrong: He had six fouls, five turnovers, scored just three points and was 0-for-10 from the field. He missed his shots in a variety of ways. He had them blocked, he had layups rim out, he had jumpers hit the back of the rim.
And just when it looked like his night couldn't get much worse, he ran into a Hilton Armstrong screen in the fourth quarter that left him crumpled on the court in pain for about two or three minutes. Ouch.
Portland's two standouts
Any talk of a summer league all-star team or MVP has to start with Jerryd Bayless. Simply put, the Portland frosh makes things happen. After getting to the line 23 times in his first pro action, he has already attempted 12 more freebies through three quarters against the Kings. Once he makes up his mind that he wants to get into the paint -- defenders on this level at least -- appear helpless. His jumper still needs a little work, but he is a flat-out scorer. Midway through the fourth quarter, he has 18 points and six rebounds.
Teammate Petteri Koponen has also had a strong showing in Vegas. The point guard has a money jumper and has done a solid job of creating looks for others. Tonight he has 18 points and three assists and with four minutes to go Portland leads by three.
Bayless almost capped an outstanding evening in style. He nailed a jumper with 9.7 seconds left to force overtime. In the extra period, the Blazers called on Bayless to play hero again, except this time his jumper with two seconds left didn't fall in a one-point loss.
He finished the game 6-for-15 from the floor and 13-for-16 from the line for a total of 26 points. He also had two helpers.
Quincy Douby was the high man for Sacramento with 24 points and six
steals, while Jason Thompson pitched in with 17 points and nine boards.
- Minnesota's Kevin Love learned a lot in his first summer league game, including that he needs to get in better shape.
- Summer league or not, this slam by Gerald Green is one of the top dunks I've ever seen.
- $3.8 million was not enough dough to get Keyon Dooling to sign on the dotted line.
- Danny Ainge is happy that the Celtics were able to reward their loyal fans with a championship.
- When the Knicks drafted Danilo Gallinari, they knew they were getting the player we saw yesterday, which is a good thing.
- Although they probably won't be suiting up for the Lakers in the fall, Davon Jefferson and Lorenzo Mata-Real are thrilled to be playing on the summer league team.
- The Nets have too many bigs and not enough point guards.
- The place I grew up visiting on a weekly basis as a kid is getting demolished.
- Bob Young of The Arizona Republic: "David Stern needs to step down. His league's credibility depends on it. Former Suns Chairman Jerry Colangelo would make a pretty good replacement. If it is determined that Foster was involved with Donaghy, then Stern needs to take one more step. Remember when the NBA filed a court request to have Donaghy pay the league $1.4 million in restitution? They factored in the salary he was paid in games he fixed and even the cost of his shoes. Oh, and $1 million for the league's internal investigation into the matter. Well, we figure Stern needs to pay the league $10 million in restitution, because all this happened on his watch."
- Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: "Kevin Garnett said he still hasn't gotten a full night's sleep since winning the championship. 'A lot of cat-napping,' he said. 'I am the No. 1 spokesman for cat-napping.' Soon, however, Garnett will begin to push the past season aside and focus on banner No. 18. 'Enjoy 17,' he said. 'Enjoy that right now. Enjoy the winning part of it. Enjoy the fact that we're doing this together. Then when we lock back in, we lock back in.'"
- Kyle Hightower of the Orlando Sentinel: "After several seasons of playing catch-up with the Western Conference, the Beasts of the East may be coming back. Following the Boston Celtics' title, Eastern Conference teams have gone to work in free agency and the draft to enhance the talent of the NBA's perceived weaker half."
- Jason Quick of The Oregonian: "Trail Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard has a tough decision to make in the coming months: Sign up-and-coming point guard Petteri Koponen, or keep an open roster spot entering the regular season. On Monday, after Koponen scored 19 points and made 4-of-6 three pointers in the Summer League opener, his decision became even tougher. 'I don't know. I don't even really want to think about it,' Pritchard said. 'I want to watch these games, have fun with that, see if he improves as the week goes on ... and if he does, he has a spot.'"
- Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: "Cleveland Cavaliers assistant John Kuester was on a roll Monday, thinking up new ways to praise rookie J.J. Hickson. 'We're talking about an N.C. State guy, and I'm still saying nice things,' former Tar Heel Kuester joked. 'He's that great a kid.' And seemingly that good a prospect. Hickson looked spectacular during a 97-94 summer-league loss to the New York Knicks, with 26 points and nine rebounds."
- Ross Siler of The Salt Lake Tribune: "Kyrlo Fesenko returned to town for the Rocky Mountain Revue with blond hair, apparently forgetting he plays for a no-nonsense coach who doesn't even allow his players to wear headbands. Although he was able to joke about Fesenko -- 'I didn't know who he was. I was totally taken aback by the blond hair' -- Sloan clearly would have preferred his 21-year-old center call attention to himself with his play on the court instead of the coloring in his hair. 'He's got a long way to go to make himself a better player,' Sloan said. 'He has skills, but sometimes the outside things will take you right out of this game. If those things are more important than basketball, that's where you get in trouble." ..."A lot of people have skills, Sloan added. 'A lot of them are sitting on the sidewalk wondering what happened 20 years ago when they had a chance. He's got to figure out what he wants to do and play basketball or be a clown.'"
- Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune: "Posterity will record the trade that brought Rodney Carney to the Timberwolves as a morsel of NBA bookkeeping, a shuffling of digits on the financial ledger that summoned shock and change to a player who spent his first two seasons in Philadelphia. Carney considers differently the deal that sent him and Calvin Booth packing for a future first-round draft pick and valuable salary-cap space that let the 76ers sign free-agent Elton Brand to an $82 million contract. 'The way I look at it is, they traded me and Booth to get Elton Brand,' Carney said. 'So I say I got traded for Elton Brand. You put it that way, it sounds pretty good.'"
- Michael Grange of The Globe and Mail: "With one career goal accomplished, Gordon Herbert moves on to the next. As a bonus, he gets to come home, too. The newest member of the Toronto Raptors' coaching staff is in Las Vegas working with the team's summer league entry, but that's just the latest stop on a long basketball journey that began in Penticton, B.C., visited Idaho for college basketball, and took him all over Europe as a player and coach. 'Since I began coaching, it's always been a goal of mine to coach a Euroleague team and to be an assistant coach in the NBA,' Herbert said in a telephone interview yesterday. 'This opportunity allowed me to get into the NBA and come back to Canada, too.'"
By Maurice Brooks
- Hey Sixers' fans, Elton Brand already missed a game.
- In a town where so many sports figures have been forgiven, is it time to do the same for Dan Issel?
- Although he's only 22, Dallas' Gerald Green is in the process of trying to prove that he is a player in the NBA.
- Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy apparently likes to keep in touch.
- Gilbert Arenas has vacation advice: Everybody should visit Manila.
Day 2 is underway with the Raptors clinging to a small lead over the Kings. Toronto's Joey Graham (18 points) and Sacramento's Spencer Hawes (14) are slugging it out for game-high scoring honors midway through the third period.
On a side note, all that stuff about anything goes in Vegas is not entirely true. Last night I was denied entry -- to of all things, an NBA Summer League party -- at the Palms for wearing shorts. Sure I know you're supposed to wear pants to the club, but when it's 108 degrees outside, I thought that rule went out the window. Apparently not.
In the comments section of yesterday's live blog, someone wrote that Ron Artest had been traded to the Lakers. If that is the case, someone forgot to tell Ron-Ron because he's here hanging out with Kevin Martin sitting behind the Kings' bench.
I know it's only Day 2, but this has been the most entertaining game so far. Think pickup ball in the park -- complete with Quincy Douby cherry picking. Toronto's Jaycee Carroll (as I'm typing this, he fired up an airball) can really shoot it, and Hawes shoots and passes a lot better than I remember.
Graham is attacking the basket every time he gets a touch, and although he has eight fouls (you are allowed 10 before fouling out in summer league), he has 24 points.
The Kings earned the 93-86 victory over the Raptors thanks to Hawes and Douby combining to score 43 points. Patrick Ewing, Jr. got the start at forward for the Kings, missing all four of his shot attempts and finishing with zero points.
I'm looking forward to watching the Bobcats' D.J. Augustin and the Clippers' Eric Gordon in the next game. Although I didn't think Charlotte needed another point guard, I love the way Augustin gets up and down the floor.
Maybe I put the jinx on Augustin who hasn't done anything in the early going to distinguish himself. He finished the period with zero assists and no points. Just like last night, Gordon once again is showing that he is not shy. He squeezed off four shots, while playing the entire first period, but only connected on one.
For the second day in a row, the gym is full. I guess it's a hoop junkie's dream. For $20 you get to see four games featuring young hungry players, get closer to the NBA action than you normally would and you're in Las Vegas. I guess that is a winning formula.
At halftime, everyone in attendance got all of the proof needed that those who can't play, heckle. "Clipper Darrell", who has worn a homemade Clippers outfits to the arena the last two days and made life miserable for L.A. opponents, was chosen to participate in a shooting contest. Showing off form that even Bill Cartwright could make fun of, he only made one of his 10-plus shot attempts. Also, he got a taste of his own medicine -- the crowd booed.
Augustin has done a good job getting off his own shot, although he hasn't been in playmaker mode. Through three quarter he is 4-for-7 from the floor and 5-for-6 from the line for a total of 14 points. He has just one assist.
If I were on the Clippers' coaching staff, I'd sit Al Thornton. He doesn't need the extra work. He has 19 points and six boards and pretty much can do what he wants, when he wants. This will be the last summer that we will ever see him playing summer league ball.
Gordon's shaky shooting from the floor has apparently carried over to the foul line where he is a Shaq-like 3-for-7. That is almost as bad as his shooting from 3-point range (1 of 5).
It looks like Gordon has pulled his hamstring. He went to the hole and when he came down he immediately grabbed the back of his leg. The medical staff is taking a look.
Gordon limped off the court following the Clippers' 81-66 loss. This is what he had to say after the game.
"I hurt it pretty bad and don't know what is going to happen," Gordon said. "I'll see how it feels tomorrow."
Gordon, who finished with 15 points on 4-for-10 shooting, was pleased that he went to the free-throw line 10 times (making six).
"I pride myself on getting to the line, even if my shot isn't falling," Gordon said.
Gordon looks forward to playing with L.A.'s new point guard.
"Me and Baron [Davis] have similar styles," Gordon said. "We can both play the one and the two and I'm going to do anything I can to help the team."
Augustin didn't score any more points and finished with two assists. He was happy with how he performed once his nerves calmed down.
"In the beginning, I was a little shaky," Augustin said. "This was my first time out. I did better as the game went on and I was trying to get the ball to my teammates."
Augustin is looking forward to working with first-year Bobcats coach Larry Brown.
"Coach Brown likes to teach and I'm learning a lot," Augustin said. "I was a little surprised the Bobcats drafted me, but I'm happy to be here."
Andre Iguodala, J.R. Smith and Marcus Camby were all in the house to watch the Nuggets blow out the Sixers in Game 3.
Just like I don't want to see Thornton play for the Clippers, I think the Sixers should shut down Thaddeus Young for the rest of the Vegas trip. He followed up yesterday's monster game by posting 22 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals. Anyone that is in their team's regular rotation, doesn't need to be here.
Marreese Speights played under more control today and finished all of his shots around the basket. The rookie missed just two of nine shots, scoring 14 and he grabbed five rebounds. The Sixers still need an outside shooter and nobody on the summer league roster appears ready to fill that void.
Watching how smooth Dahntay Jones plays, it is hard to believe that he has not had a better career. He has all of the tools. He paced the Nuggets with 21 points, hitting 8-for-15 from the floor.
The Bucks, who are playing their first game, are about to take the floor against the Grizzlies.
Milwaukee first-round pick Joe Alexander was active, but his numbers so far aren't pretty. Playing almost 18 minutes in the first half, he scored just five points and pulled down three rebounds. He missed six of his first seven attempts.
What a difference a night makes. Darrell Arthur couldn't miss on Friday, but he has made just 2 of 7 to start the game tonight. Meanwhile, one minute into the third period, O.J. Mayo has already taken the same amount of shots as he did all of yesterday. He is 4-for-10 from the floor for a game-high 12 points. Make or miss, there is no doubt his confidence is growing.
The Bucks keep leaving Mayo open in the corner and he keeps making them pay. He just hit back-to-back triples, giving him a game-high 23 points after three quarters.
Memphis' 88-79 win wraps up Day 2. Mayo tallied 26 points on 9-for-19 shooting (4 of 6 on 3s) and he cut his turnovers in half (4) from Friday.
Alexander made just 2 of 13 shots for a total of seven points.
The NBA Summer League is officially off and running with the Sixers and Warriors on the floor. This gives me a chance to get an up close and personal look at Philadelphia first-round pick Marreese Speights. His pro debut is off to a good start. He has been real active around the basket and after missing his first five shots, he has just rocked the rim three straight times as the Sixers have opened up a seven-point lead late in the second quarter.
Reminder, to those of you who can't make the trip to Las Vegas -- all of the games are being shown via webcast on NBA.com and 23 of the games can be seen on NBA TV.
Early observations from the opening game of the NBA Summer League:
Why is Golden State's C.J. Watson wearing a long-sleeve shirt under his jersey?
Maybe the Warriors should play all of their games at UNLV -- Marco Belinelli has already gotten a rise out of the fans by draining two long jumpers.
Although I don't have the official attendance numbers, there is a nice crowd in the building.
Bryon Russell -- yeah the one MJ shoved and the refs swallowed the whistle -- is in the crowd.
Halftime: Warriors 40, Sixers 38. Anthony Randolph is pacing Golden State with 16 points on 6-for-10 shooting, while Thaddeus Young has 11 on 4-of-7 for Philly.
Randolph is playing with a ton of confidence. He just knocked down a jumper he had no business making and he has pulled down four rebounds. Although he was just called for a charge, he has shown the ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the cup.
Randolph made 12 of 18 shots from the floor.
With just over four minutes left to play and the Warriors up six, they may as well clear the floor and let Randolph and Young play one-on-one. Randolph just came down and fed his teammate for an easy basket. Young responded on the other end by attacking the basket and drawing a foul.
They are tied for game high honors in points with 24 each.
Game one of 53 is in the books. The Warriors, behind 30 points and eight rebounds from Randolph, stopped the Sixers 96-89. Brandan Wright was also a bundle of energy for the Warriors, blocking four shots to go with seven rebounds and 17 points.
Even though they lost, the Sixers have to be pleased with what they saw from Young, who finished with 27 points, and Speights, who went 7-for-19 from the floor, but had an impressive line of 22 points and 13 rebounds.
Here is what Young had to say after the game.
On Brand: "He is not only a good player, but he is a good person. With his addition, we'll be a much better half-court team. He is going to make it easier for everyone else."
On Speights: "I thought he did well and was very aggressive. We made a good pick."
Speights wasn't available to the media after the game.
Game 2 features the Hornets and Grizzlies. The arena is full and it is a safe assumption that the large crowd is here to see Memphis rookie O.J. Mayo.
Despite what some of the hecklers in the crowd are saying, Mayo is the goods. He is virtually impossible to stay in front of off the dribble and uses his body well to get his shot off. He scored 12 points on 4 of 5 shooting in the first half.
So far today there have been two signature moments and both involved Mayo. Mayo applied the finishing touches on a perfectly thrown lob pass from Michael Conley. The second was Mayo's made-for-tv right-hand jam on Hilton Armstrong's head. Not only did he draw the foul, it was almost like he announced to the rest of summer league that 'Hey, I can play well on this level.'
Mayo surprised some people with his solid defensive play.
Mayo isn't the only Memphis player having an outstanding pro debut. Darrell Arthur is showcasing the skills that will one day make him a starting power forward. The big man has demonstrated a nice outside shooting touch, scoring a game-high 16 points on 8 of 11 shooting.
Not that the winners or losers really matter at summer league, but the Grizzlies ran past the Hornets, 88-75. Arthur finished with 18 points, while Mayo scored 15 (5 of 10 from the field), gave out five dimes and grabbed three boards. The only negative on his outing were the eight turnovers.
Grizzlies coach Marc Iavaroni had nothing but good things to say about Arthur. "He was very efficient today," Iavaroni said. "He probably had the most impressive game of anyone."
Not a bad first game for a player that nobody seemed to want -- he was traded three times on draft night.
Meanwhile, the Hornets' Julian Wright probably wants to act like this game never happened. The second-year pro missed 13 of his 17 shot attempts and turned the ball over 11 times.
A quick glance at the rosters for the Lakers and Pistons told you all you needed to know about who was going to win. L.A. has a squad full of players who will be fighting to be invited to training camp, while Detroit's lineup features players who saw considerable time in the playoffs this past season.
Led by Rodney Stuckey, who starred at last year's summer league, the Pistons beat the Lakers 84-73. Stuckey didn't shoot well, missing nine of his 15 shots, but he finished with 21 points. Arron Afflalo added 15 and Amir Johnson had 12.
The Lakers were paced by Coby Karl's 14 points.
Finally, in the nightcap, the Clippers powered by NBA-ready Eric Gordon, have jumped out to a 12-4 advantage over the Mavericks. The Clippers easily have the biggest rooting section at summer league so far.
The Clippers have a 17-point lead at halftime despite the fact that Gordon is just 2-for-11 from the field. He has made 6 of 7 from the line and despite his poor shooting, stayed in attack mode.
Final: Clippers 86, Mavericks 69. Gordon shot it a little better in the second half, making 3 of 7 to finish 5 for 18. He led all scorers with 23 points, and also pulled down seven boards, but gave out just two assists. His numbers were saved by the fact he made 10 foul shots.