Final Score: Dallas 76- Orlando 74
Halftime Score: Orlando 45- Dallas 41
Dwight Howard- Its total and utter domination for Orlando when Howard is on the floor. He is so good on both ends of the floor its just not fair to have him in a competition like this. Howard once again had his way inside the paint with whoever was trying to guard him (Mbenga or whoever), and when he got bored of dunking on everyone there, he moved outside to 14-16 feet out where he showed the ability to consistently kiss the ball off the glass. On defense, he blocked whatever shot he wanted and gobbled any rebound he pleased. He finished with 13 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks in the first half.
Jerome Beasley- A very solid half for Beasley once he got to play with Dwight Howard off of the court. He showed a great face up game to stroke the mid-range jumper, took the ball coast to coast with surprising quickness to finish with a thunderous dunk, some nice moves inside, a nice all-around half on the offensive end for Beasley. 6 points and 4 rebounds for Beasley at the half.
Travis Diener- Another outstanding game for Travis Diener. He was stroking the ball from behind the arc with the greatest of ease, feeding Dwight Howard with beautiful passes and generally running his offense to perfection. His coach can feel very safe when the keys to the team are in Dieners hands, he doesnt make a lot of mistakes and he just really understands the game you can tell. Hes going to be a great backup PG for a long time. 8 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists for Diener at the half.
Marquis Daniels-Marquis is much more effective as a point guard based off his play in this summer league. When the ball is in his hands good things usually happen, although Nelsons stature and quickness gave him a bit of trouble. Marquis has a low dribble and his ability to chop-step and jitter allows him to work his way in close to the basket where his touch is very soft and accurate. Daniels form looks decent on his perimeter shot, but the results have been hit or miss so far. Daniels shows solid court vision and although he has taken a decent amount of shots they usually are a result of the ball returning to him on a possession as opposed to him looking to score. Defensively Marquis needs to show a little more passion as his size, reach and quick hands should make him a much tougher defender. 15 points on 5-15 shooting for Daniels at the half.
Josh Powell-Josh is having another solid half of basketball. Powell gets good position on his man when going for rebounds and he gets off his feet with quickness and strength. Powells shown sure hands in traffic when going for rebounds and has finished with power on almost every attempt close to the basket. Defensively Powell is having some problems in the post, but going against Dwight Howard is not an ideal match-up to analyze him in this regard. If Josh could show a consistent jumper from at least 15 feet he could really make himself an asset.
Michael Harris-Harris played another heady basketball game in the first half. Michael doesnt stand out in any one regard, but hes very intelligent and doesnt try to exceed his own limitations. Harris shot well from outside and drove to the hoop with conviction on a number of occasions. Had one nice play on the break where he went behind his back and slammed the ball. 9 points, 3 rebounds in 13 minutes for Harris at the half.
Denver Nuggets vs. Chicago Bulls
Final Score: Chicago Bulls 84 Denver Nuggets 79
Linas Kleiza- Kleiza did his normal stuff in the first half, scoring around the basket and from mid-range, putting the ball on the floor and bullying his way to the basket, rebounding like a beast inside, beating up anyone in his way and doing everything he can on defense despite his deficiencies. Hes on his way to another solid double double.
Kleiza continued to do whatever he pleased in the 2nd half as well, staying out of foul trouble and hitting most of his shots from mid-range and inside the paint. He continued to rebound well and got to the line again and again. Denvers rookie has had an excellent summer league for himself.
Julius Hodge- Hodge did a better job today at sticking to his game. Even though he was being guarded by a very tough defender in Eddie Basden for stretches of the first half, he still managed to take the ball to the basket repeatedly and get to the line.
Hodge had another nice half and finished the game with close 20 points or so. This was probably his best game so far. He played good defense, rebounded, passed, handled the ball and even hit a three pointer.
Tyus Edney- Its about time Edney gets some kind of mention here as one of the biggest former college stars we have here in the summer league. No one really knows what he is doing here, considering that he has been out of the league for four years, is 5-10 and already 32 years old and has been battling some injury problems for the past year or so. Regardless, he is still a great player and hes been doing good work here in limited minutes over the past week and change. He is still quick as a demon and almost impossible to keep in the lane, and still does a very good job running his team. His shot is still hit or miss, though, which is probably the number one reason he has been out of the league for so long despite his height. Hes been a very fun player to watch here.
Luis Flores- Another 6-1 shooting guard, Flores actually had the luxury of playing the 2 here in certain stretches and lived up to his billing as one of the best pure scorers in this league. He has a very good jump shot and gets to the hoop whenever he pleases thanks to a fantastic combination of deceptive quickness, superb ball-handling skills, toughness and the pure basketball instincts to get where he needs to be that just cant be taught. His defense is definitely hit or miss, because of his poor lateral quickness and the fact that hes always been asked to put up 30 points a night until he reached the NBA. To stick in the league you would really like to see him become a little bit more of a distributor and learn how to make others around him better, but that would probably be asking him to be something that he just isnt. If he ever falls out of favor in the NBA, huge contract offers await him at the top level of Europe.
Mario Austin-Mario probably had the best half of any Bull player, although it wasnt a particularly brilliant display. Austin had a very nifty reverse-pivot move toward the baseline and finished over a very long Boniface NDong for the soft jumper. Mario has shown some nice court vision on a few passes out of the post and has blocked two shots on successive plays that showed nice quickness.
In the second half Mario put his passing skills on full display. Austin just has a sharp sense of not only where his teammates are, but who can handle what pass. Mario didnt shoot much and he missed a few easy attempts, but the moves were solid and sure so it could be attributed to luck. Austins euro-league statistics suggest that his relatively low impact is more a byproduct of a poor summer league squad than much else. Still, he should be more vocal about demanding the ball down low.
Eddie Basden-Eddie has had a quiet first half after being the dominant player on his team the first three games. Eddies hands have seemed a little shaky today, which is surprising given how well hes executed off the dribble all week. Because of this Basden has been hesitant to force the issue, which is probably a good thing, and has not really done anything tangible accept hustle on defense and move the ball.
Basden improved greatly in the second half. Eddie just inked a deal with the big club and a lot of his early game jitters could probably be attributed to a desire to validate the recent signing. Once he started letting the game come more naturally Eddie began contributing much more. Basden rebounded and defended with aggression and started to find his handle, which led to some nice drives. On one play Basden drove from the left wing hard toward the center of the paint and drew contact from NDong as he finished smoothly with the right hand extension.
Basdens decision making and ability to read the passing lanes are one of his best attributes although he did turn the ball over a few times in this game. It was a good recovery for Eddie in the second half and if nothing else provided some insight into his mental toughness. Basden also knows how to work the officials, something that will be key for him as a defensive force in the NBA. Basden questioned some calls against him a couple of times but did it with respect and you could tell the official was pleased with his approach.
New Orleans Hornets vs. New Jersey Nets
Final Score: New Orleans Hornets 84- New Jersey Nets 67
Halftime Score: New Orleans Hornets 31- New Jersey Nets 39
J.R. Smith- Smith is easily the best player on either squad in the first half so far. He seems to have changed his mentality overnight, looking to make everyone around him better and looking great in the process. He made a couple of wonderful passes on the move to set up his teammates for easy baskets, one to Lampe and one to Brandon Bass to get his guys going. Who would have guessed that he has that kind of court vision and passing ability from the way he has always played? Playing like this really opens up the rest of his game, and you can see his defender sagging off a bit and giving him more room to operate. He exploded for one unbelievable dunk in the first half, which was easily a top 5 play here in the Summer league. Overall a fantastic half for J.R. Smith here. If he can play as cool and composed next year as he continues to mature, we might have something to talk about here. He closed off the half with an awesome 3 point basket fading away at the buzzer.
After scoring 14 points in the first half, Smith slowed down a bit in the second, continuing to move the ball around and not forcing the issue on the offensive end. He didn't have much left to prove here and was coasting quite a bit.
Chris Paul- Paul is back from his injury, but his game certainly isnt. He started off very slow and passive today, deferring to others and not making his presence felt on the floor even one bit. He would just bring the ball up the floor and pass it off immediately, not looking to get it back later in the offense either. He picked it up a bit later in the 2nd quarter, taking the ball to the basket strong and looking to make things happen, but not really with a lot of success.
Paul is playing in 3rd gear in the second half as well. Nothing is falling for him offensively and he just doesnt seem to be in it at all. His wrist might still be hurting him. He made some nice passes, but his teammates couldnt convert most of the time.
Jackson Vroman- Scrappy dude didnt start, but came on in 2nd quarter and made his presence felt immediately. Did a lot of little things, rebounding, playing defense, taking charges and doing some work around the basket on the offensive end.
Maciej Lampe- Had a quiet first half, but really started being aggressive and making things happen in the 2nd, rebounding strong, getting his hands on a lot of balls on both ends of the court, running the floor, setting picks and generally doing exactly what the Hornets want him to do here. His jumper was falling for him from mid-range, he presented himself well on the break and was in the right places, while at least putting in a solid effort on the defensive end.
Brandon Bass- Woke up a bit to show off his athleticism at times, but still not the same player we saw at LSU. It'll take him some time to adjust.
Antoine Wright-Wright is playing well for the second consecutive game. Wright has hit a couple of nice outside shots, one from 16ft and another from 3 point range. Wright has made some smooth forays to the basket, showing good lateral cutting ability. Antoine has also shown a keen eye for finding teammates off the drive, though this is the first game its really shown. Wrights shot is still very flat from outside when he doesnt have his feet set and he must work on this if he wants to set up those quick moves to the hoop.
In the second half Antoine made smart decisions with good results. Wright really displayed some acute court awareness on both ends of the floor. Defensively, Antoine got into his defender well and made a few solid help decisions. On the offensive side of the ball Wright continues to have success with his outside shot and used it very well to setup his defender for more smooth trips to the basket. Wrights passing touch and court vision were his best attributes in this game, mostly because he had been primarily a shooter in the other games. Wright is not super explosive, but he has very solid body control and looks very relaxed and natural when attacking the basket, even switching hands for a soft lay-in around the help defender on one occasion.
Sam Clancy-Sam is bringing his lunch pail game to the court again. Sam has great footwork and uses his huge shoulders to get his defender on his heals. Sam really knows how to move around the floor, be it with the ball or without. Hes almost always the finishing man on a teammates pass and can finish strong or with touch even after contact. Doesnt explode off the ground as much as he bull-dozes his defender, often carrying the man on his back as he continues to go for the hoop. He took over the game for the Nets in the first half and carried them to an 8 point lead.
Sams defensive positioning is very sound and he has sure, strong hands that help him secure rebounds in traffic. The play that stands out the most for Clancy was one where he reverse-pivoted for a hanging 12ft jumper and pulled the ball back while coming down and still released with perfect touch-a hard shot for any player, but very impressive for a man of his size. Clancys been impressive all week long and certainly has skills that translate to the NBA game.
Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
Final Score: Cavs 71- Celtics 65.
Halftime Score: Cleveland Cavaliers 38 Boston Celtics 33
Ryan Gomes- Ryan was the best player for the Celtics in the first half. Gomes came up with the ball on many occasions, be it a steal, Rebound, or loose ball. Gomes finished two and 1 plays which were beautiful. Ryan just knows how to set up his defender for failure. He used up fakes and footwork to get his man off balance and is a guaranteed finish once the defender bites. Good Half.
Ryan did much of the same things in the second half. In the post Gomes is pretty much unguardable. He needs to keep trusting his outside shot so he can successfully transition to a true small forward, but his decision making is a sound as can be and his shot mechanics are virtually flawless. Gomes is a great finisher around the basket and doesnt lose concentration or feel when he gets hit on the follow through.
Will Bynum- Will has had a very strong game on both sides of the floor. The first thing that jumps out at you is his ball-hawk defense. Bynum has forced the opposing point guard into two turnovers mid-court. On the offensive end, Bynum used a couple of solid jumpers to set up his drive. Bynum has finished in traffic a number of times and has taken contact when doing so. This kid has been all about toughness today, even if his point guard instincts are a little shaky.
Tony Allen-The last of the Celtics to actually play well. Allen has been solid on both ends of the floor and its his hustle that makes it happen. Allen takes contact excellently, using his shoulder to body the defender in the air and finishing softly after contact. Tony loves to jump the passing lanes and has gotten his hands on some balls today including one to end the half that left him just short of time to finish a breakaway dunk.
Gerald Green- Greens only getting in here because of his status as a figure of interest for Celtic fans. Greens jumper looks very good, even when he misses it, but his shot selection is shaky at best. Gerald just cant beat his defender off the dribble and most of his shots are on lateral moves. Still, he can elevate quickly and its hard to block so the shot is his to miss or make. If Green got more help with screens hed be able to get to the rack easily and when hes squared to the basket he is very confident. Gerald has shown a desire to post on occasion, which is nice, and he had a smooth steal/assist to Al Jefferson that highlighted his first half.
Justin Reed- Reed snuck into the analysis with some 4th quarter execution. Justins shot was inconsistent all day, though his form was the same. Reed couldnt find his elevation point on his shot until late in the game and his usually sure hands were very jittery-like he drank too much coffee. Justin still played solid defense and, as always, was his harshest critic. Hit his last three jumpers, including a 3 late in the game to get it within two. Not putting much stock into this performance, hes shown enough.
Luke Jackson- Shot wasnt really falling for him in the 1st half. Was really trying to play defense and did a pretty good job on the very predictable Gerald Green. Luke didnt force things too much on the offensive end and as the game progressed he started picking up points from different spots on the court. Jackson has a great basketball IQ and hes been dishing off gorgeous dimes all Summer League long, with today being no exception. He had a pretty good first half for the Cavs.
Luke was pretty quiet in the 2nd half. For a guy whose game revolves so heavily around his 3 point shot, it will take a while for him to fully shake the rust off and return to the player he was in college. Right now there are a lot of rumblings in the stands about him never being able to live up to where he was picked and there is already quite a bit of talk about Danny Ferry putting him on the trading block already.
Martynas Andriuskevicius- Marty looks pretty lost out there and is having a bit of a problem not making mistakes out there with everything he does. He had an open lane to drive and dunk after a beautiful pass, but got a little excited and shuffled his feet just as he got the ball.
Marty got injured late in the 2nd half. He didnt do anything in the rest of the half except for picking up a couple of fouls and maybe scoring some garbage around the basket.
Blake Stepp- Stepp has a beautiful stroke and has a lot of fans here in these stands because of the way he plays. He is a smart player who doesnt make too many mistakes and knows how to run a team effectively. His knee problems are a bit concerning, and they contribute to his already underwhelming athletic ability.
Stepp was probably the best player on the floor for the Cavs today. His timely shooting was what kept the Cavs in front as the Celtics made a strong push at the end. He did a solid job moving the ball around and overall had a very good game.
John Gilchrist- Not a very good start for Gilchrist today. Will Bynum was really bringing it to him on the defensive end. Gilchrist didnt really seem to be too into it mentally today, being called for palming the ball and taking a couple of shots outside of the context of the offense.
A terrible game for Gilchrist today. Theres not much more to say beyond that.
Jeff Varem- Varem has been catching our eye all week long with the way hes been playing here. He is a 6-5 combo forward right now with absolutely no position for the NBA, but hes been making the most of his time here by doing all the little things for his team. He plays tough, pesky defense on whoever hes asked to guard, doing an especially good job on Justin Reed today, taking him out of the game completely by matching him with his physicality. Hes been the owner of some of the most explosive plays around the basket all week long as well, and he generally shows the right attitude in everything he does. Hes signed with Pau Orthez, a top team in France already, which is an excellent signing for them considering that he can play both the 3 and the 4 for them in Europe, his natural positions.
Accurecruit.com will have all of the Vegas Summer League games on their site for you to view. Right now there are select games along with a great free three minute highlight clip of some of the best plays seen in Vegas. Head over to Accurecruit.com's website and check out what they have to offer. On Tuesday, July 26th the entire Summer League will be up for you to view