Final Score: Chicago 72- Sacramento 71
Kevin Martin- For his third straight game in a row, Martin is once again the best player on the floor for either team. He went 4-6 in the first quarter on his way to 9 points, and then added on to his total throughout the second. The best part of his game was the way he scored them, though. His first basket came on a super acrobatic finish on a baseline alleyoop play. After that came a basket on a set play of a sharp cut, catch and quick flush with two hands. Next time down the court he pulled up for a beautiful jumper from just inside the college three, plus the foul. He also scored a few times on his trademark play here; running full speed towards the baseline, cutting sharply backwards and pulling up to sky in the air before gracefully stroking it into the hoop. He showed off that shot from both sides of the paint, it is money every time. Martin was also running the point a little bit, and made some really nice simple passes to put his big men in place for an easy basket while starting up the offense. He finished off the first half by stroking a beautiful three pointer. Easily the most impressive half we saw today from a guard. He finished with 15 points on 6-8 shooting in the half.
In the 2nd half, Martin started off slowly preferring to set up his teammates instead of looking for his own shot first. He made a couple of great passes inside to Jared Homan and Francisco Garcia for some beautiful assists, and also came up with a couple more strong rebounds in traffic on the defensive end.
Slowly, but surely, Martin continued to pile on the points by taking the ball strong to the basket and getting to the line, hitting his jump-shots from the perimeter and making plays defensively and then finishing in transition. He finished with 28 points on 9-12 shooting from the field to go along with 5 rebounds and what looked to be at least 4-5 assists (the statisticians dont keep track of assists if you havent noticed already). Its pretty amazing to see a two guard at an event like this score 20+ points every single game but still shoot well over 50%.
Francisco Garcia- Another lackluster performance from Garcia offensively. He showed a quick trigger, but nothing was falling for him (one airball), even around the basket. He did manage to once again get his hands on a lot of balls for deflections and steals, blocked two shots, and made a couple of nice passes. Garcias offense has been very disappointing here so far, though. Eddie Basden gave him all he could handle today on both ends of the floor and definitely came out on top. He was 2-8 for 6 points and 4 rebounds in the first half.
Garcia was off once again in the 2nd half as well, finishing the game with 8 points on 3-11 shooting to go along with 6 rebounds and 3 blocks.
Erik Daniels- Daniels looked like he was going to have a great game in the first quarter as he started off making some fantastic passes and was involved in another couple of big plays. Shortly after he had to sit for a while (once again) because of a nasty spill he took after diving for a loose ball. He came back before the end of the 2nd half and hit another mid-range jumper, which is absolutely huge for his chances of sticking on a team as a small forward. He played some great D and scored some nice baskets as well.
In the 2nd half Daniels was really feeling it on both ends of the floor. He hit a couple of mid-range shots and even nailed a 3 pointer, while playing his traditional excellent defense and making some wonderful passes in the half-court offense. Daniels has come along way from the player he was just a year ago as a senior at Kentucky. He was a 6-8 center back then with absolutely no game outside the paint. Now he is a fairly skilled and versatile small forward who can hit the open shot, play excellent defense, and kill you on the pick and roll with the way he passes.
Ronnie Price- Was injured apparently and did not play tonight. It's a shame considering that he did a pretty good job last game and could have really benefited from continuing his momentum here.
Eddie Basden-Basden straight up had one of the best moves of the league to date. Basden got the ball on the left side of the court about 20 feet out then cut hard right to split the double while going behind his back with the dribble! A third defender stepped up instantly to keep him from the rim and Basden hit a cutting Mario Austin for the jam. The whole play took less than 3 seconds to develop, it was quite a site to see. Basden has complete control of his body and can handle the rock with total confidence. His shooting mechanics are flawed and it keeps him from being a complete player because his defense is very strong. Eddie has great footwork and coupled with his quickness and court awareness he is a real intriguing prospect. Another fun player to watch, gets the crowd excited.
Toward the end of the first half Basden nailed the three from the same spot hed previously missed. If Eddie can get that shot to fall on a regular basis hell be a steal for the Bulls. As it stands now hell certainly raise the level of intensity in the baby Bulls practice sessions. Look for him to make the team (or someone else who would be wise to come in and steal him away) if he keeps it up like this. He had 9 points on 3-5 shooting in the first half.
2nd verse same as the first. Basden had another strong half of basketball. It's hard to quantify his game without seeing him on the court in a five on five environment. Eddie probably fell to the second round because he's just not a workout warrior, he doesn't have the size, length, or explosiveness that make scouts drool. But, Basden can play basketball, something that gets lost far too often in the equation of talent evaluation. Eddie completely ate Garcia's lunch in this game, not a major accomplishment given Garcia's struggles, and considering how highly regarded Garcia was it should make you wonder how a player like him can be overlooked.
The close of the fourth quarter put "Steady-Eddie" officially on the map. A perfect finish to a dominant game began when Bulls coach Scott Skiles, who was watching from the front row, called out "Eddie!" to get the youngster's attention. The two had a brief conversation while Sacramento was shooting free throws to go up by three points. On the next possession Basden made a hard push toward the baseline and was blocked by Garcia, who Basden had just beaten a few moments before, but Eddie outfought Garcia for the ball and quickly kicked it out to a waiting Drago Pasalic for the game tying three.
Kevin Martin made a strong move to the basket and made one of two free throws to put his team up one with 15.8 seconds to go. The Bulls then wasted their possession when David Bailey tried to take the ball into the paint and was blocked by Garcia. Sacramento had a chance to close it out, but turned the ball over and gave the Bulls a second chance.
With 10 seconds left on the clock the Bulls ran isolation for Basden at the top of the arc. Eddie made another strong push to the right side and elevated over Garcia for the shot, which rimmed out. The ball was tipped a few times and as if scripted, landed in Basden's hands once more. Sacramento must have been leery of Eddie after being burned all game and their happy hands gave the Bulls one last shot as Basden was inexplicably fouled with .5 seconds on the clock.
Kevin Martin did his best to ice Basden at the line with a little smack talk while the officials were gathering, but Steady-Eddie calmly stepped to the stripe and nailed both shots to close the game out.
When told that his performance was one of the best we'd seen and should surely earn him a spot on the roster, an always humble Basden looked up and said "God willing". With play like he showed tonight and throughout the games so far it won't take an act of God to make it happen.
Asked after the game if Basden had earned a spot on the big club's roster with his performance, coach Skiles replied with a rye "we'll see". Knowing the way Skiles approached the game in his day and judging by the grin of satisfaction on his face while Eddie sealed the deal at the line, along with the way he pulled him to the side of the court opposite of the bench midway through the game during free throws, don't be surprised if another deal is sealed soon maybe 2 years or so with half of the money guaranteed money up front
Mario Austin-Austin has disappointed me so far this week because hes coming off such a strong season overseas and has not done anything to stand out. Hes quick and he has shown physicality on the defensive end, but there are no substantial results to point to. Hopefully his team gets him the ball a bit more.
Portland Trailblazers vs. Dallas Mavericks
Final Score: Dallas 82- Portland 60.
Halftime Score: Portland Trailblazers 40. Dallas Mavericks 24
Sebastian Telfair- It's incredibly obvious that Telfair is the best player on the floor from the moment the game started, even if he ruined things later on a bit by forcing the issue with his shot. Started off with a beautiful drive off a nasty crossover to dice his way into the lane and finish from a tough spot. Followed that up by playing tenacious defense on Filiberto Rivera and hitting the deck for a loose ball. Nailed a beautiful stepback jumper before bouncing the ball high off the floor in transition for an awesome alleyoop pass to Outlaw. His ball-handling, lightning quick first step and outstanding feel for the game give you a great feeling about his future in this league. He really looks like something special. He had 12 points in the first 10 minutes, 8 of which came from the line. This kid really knows how to get a rise out of the crowd.
After the hot start Telfair really started pressing to score, which is strange to watch-like a fish trying to fly. Sebastian has passed up numerous passes he makes in his sleep and continues to force the issue. Hopefully a basketball game will break out in the second half because this is hard on the eyes. He finished 2-12 in the first half.
His ball-handling and outside shooting must improve for Outlaw to develop into a player that can get consistent minutes in the NBA. He has all kinds of tools at his disposal, but he must work on his skill set first to make up for his average basketball IQ.
Travis Outlaw- Started off missing his first four jumpers from mid-range, two of which were airballs. Did a good job using his athleticism to get to the line. Not Outlaws day today so far.
Travis has missed two easy break away dunks and has not looked comfortable at all. Some of the struggles can be attributed to some terribly paced basketball that can be blamed squarely on the officials.
Without Telfair, Outlaw had no one to set up his offense and he didn't do a whole lot of anything in the 2nd half. Too many times he jumped in the air and then tried to decide what to do.
Martell Webster Jumper wasnt really falling for him. He can catch and shoot, but his percentages plummet when he puts the ball on the floor while being guarded by someone halfway decent. Martell hit a couple of nice jumpers toward the end of the half to get his rhythm back a little, well see what happens in the second half. He was 2-7 in the first.
Webster didnt get too much better in the 2nd half, but also didnt play poorly. He had some nice passes and hit a few jumpers, but also missed quite a few. One intriguing play that developed in the third was Webster catching a tough pass underneath the basket and elevating with his back to the basket to shield himself from Pavel Podkolzin. Webster flipped the ball into the basket showing nice body control and even got the foul at the same time.
Marquis Daniels- Hit a few mid-range jumpers, but still looks nowhere close to the player he was as an undrafted rookie before he got his big contract. Daniels looks much more comfortable running the point, as he did against a good Boston squad, then he does playing off-guard in the corner. He and Avery Johnson need to figure out exactly where to play this kid. He was 3-10 in the first half.
Didnt improve much in the 2nd half, finished the third quarter 5-14. Doesnt really look like he wants to be here.
D.J. Mbenga Showed a good attitude in the Dallas games here so far. An awesome athlete with an unbelievable body. Came up with one huge block where he skyrocketed off the ground from a standstill right over his man, but his skill set in general seems to be pretty far away right now.
Devin Harris- Got injured in the last game and was in street clothes this time around. Some kind of funky pajamas.
His arm is in a cast actually.
Josh Powell- Missed his first mid-range jumper. Awesome putback dunk and generally rebounded very well.
All in all, another good game from the extremely tough Powell. If he doesnt make it this year I would fully expect him to be scouted heavily next year in Europe as well. He really needs to work on his jumper. He finished with a double double.
Pavel Podkolzin- Floated to the perimeter a bit and bricked two mid-range jumpers. Got the ball two feet away from the basket and laid it in a couple of times. Nothing really too special here, Pavel looked pretty slow running the floor actually.
Podkolzin was just too much for the Korean Ha Sueng Jin to handle in the 2nd half, if you can believe it. He scored a few times at the basket on him and went to the line a couple more. Jin finished with 8 fouls in about 12 minutes. Pavel somehow finished with 15 points and 7 rebounds.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Denver Nuggets
Final Score: Cavs 78- Nuggets 56
Halftime: Cavs 38- Denver 30.
Linas Kleiza-Barely played in the first half, but impossible not to notice when he is on the court. Hes so tough and active, but really skilled at the same time.
Kleiza had better games than this one. He has to learn how to be smarter with his aggressiveness, as hes picked up a ton of fouls in all of his three games. You have to love his heart, but that wont help his team if hes saddled with fouls night in night out. In the 4th quarter he nailed 3 straight mid-jumpers, two from the NCAA three point line to end up with a respectable statline. He also finished with 7 fouls.
Boniface NDong- Possibly the biggest sleeper of this summer league, Butterface NDong as we affectionately call him keeps getting more and more confident every game that goes by and continues to show off a wide array of skills that could very well land him a contract in the NBA next year. NDong once again showed that he can face the basket and hit the 16 foot jump shot very well, he was active in the paint and played with a ton of intensity for every minute he was on the court. He shows very strong fundamentals for a 7 footer, sealing his man off in the paint, catching and turning around fluidly for the dunk, and then boxing his man out very effectively and rebounding on the other end of the floor.
Picked up his fifth foul with 3 minutes to go in the third quarter. Might be trying to do a little too much.
Julius Hodge- Not having a great game at all. Really struggles to play off the ball when he isnt the point guard on the floor. He missed some gimmes around the basket and showed off his atrocious looking shot again from behind the arc. Luke Jackson gave him a very hard time on both ends and certainly outplayed him.
Looks very frustrated, forcing the issue constantly. After the 2nd half we can definitely say, Luke Jackson murdered him on both ends. His lack of explosiveness really hurts him as strictly a handling/slashing type in the NBA.
Ricky Sanchez- For the third straight game, all Sanchez did was hang out on the perimeter and shoot three pointers. Nothing was falling for him as usual. Sanchez needs to grow a pair at some point and realize that at 6-11 there is more that he can do besides jacking up off balance three pointers all day long. When will it be too early to question the Nuggets ford drafting him at #35 when there were so many established players on the board who could have helped them right now?
Luke Jackson- On cue, Luke has really started asserting himself with good results. Jacksons deep shot is still a bit short, but hes locating it well and not shooting indiscriminatingly. In transition Lukes handle and court vision are really helping get his team going, at one point he pulled a sweet cross-over to the left and then flipped the behind the back pass in stride to his teammate for the jam which the guy blew. Jackson has handled Julius Hodges pressure very well and isnt getting beat on defense at all as hes funneled Julius to the baseline on nearly every attempt.
In the second half Luke absolutely dominated the transition game with his ball handling and passing. Jackson didnt look to score much, but he controlled the tempo and was the point guard for his team on many possessions. Once his shot gets right again hell look nice playing alongside passers like LBJ and Larry Hughes.
John Lucas III- Lucas is having a very solid performance today going up against Tyus Edney. Lucas has handled Edneys quickness on the defensive end and is really showing a good grasp of the point guard duties in this game. Johns also hitting his shots, even making a 35 foot runner at the buzzer that was waved off. Looks very comfortable on the floor right now.
Jeff Varem- Varem is a ball of energy on the floor right now. While I cant see a positon for him on the court, he played point last season for his team and it shows in his ability to handle the basketball with confidence. Varem looks like a power forward as his build is extremely impressive. Varem has good explosiveness as well as quick feet and has really given Linas Klieza problems. At one point Varem came over the top on a Hodge drive and completely absorbed the layup attempt with an emphatic swat. Hes a fun player to watch.
John Gilchrist- John has really handled the ball well and set his teammates in the right spots, even if they havent kept their end of the bargain. Ghilchrists handle is very solid and hes got a great body for the 1, so well see what happens. Not really shooting at all, but his hesitation and smart selection have gotten him points from the line and up close.
Orlando Magic- New Orleans Hornets
Final Score: Orlando 75- New Orleans 71
Halftime: Orlando 36- New Orleans 36
Dwight Howard- Theres not much more to say about the kid other than hes the most dominant post player in the Summer League. Howard has extended his offensive repertoire in this game and is now hitting a very pretty elbow shot off the glass, at least 4 made in the first half. Dwight is also very comfortable with using his post game to get to the center of the court and drop a soft half-hook or slight fade. His strength and use of his body have improved significantly as he knows what he can get away with much better now and when he uses those shoulders to clear his man out there is thunder in the delivery. Rebounding and activity on the defensive and offensive ends are very good as he grabs rebounds in traffic and has run the court with the ball a few times and looked good doing it. Got a little testy with Jackson Vroman and bowled him over a few times in frustration, but I wouldnt worry about his composure much. Great game .again.
Second half was more of the same-probably more defensive dominance though. Howard challenged a bunch of shots and blocked a few as well. He stays active and is playing great help defense, which subsequently has got him a bunch of fouls too. Hit a couple of nice jumpers and looked very interested in the game.
Jameer Nelson- Jameer is really being authoritative on offense with both his scoring and passing. Its sad that Chris Paul is sitting out because that was a matchup to watch today, but in his absence Nelson has decided to abuse the outmatched Hornets contingency guards. Nelson is attacking the hoop quickly and moving north/south much of the time. When Jameer does probe with the dribble hes typically looking to find the inlet pass to Howard or whomever is in good position to score.
Second half Jameer continued to score at will and can do so many things with the ball and his body once committed that he's just a joy to watch. Plays up-tight defensively on his man when he knows it causes problems, but also knows when to back off. Strongest overall game for him today. Nice snap rotation on his jumper too, always has a chance to go in even when it hits the rim.
Travis Diener- Diener is really starting to look solid and could be a legit backup to Nelson and Franchise if he continues his solid play. Although hes extremely slight of build he hasnt let it effect his composure and has made a number of nice passes as hes weaved his way toward the basket with his head up.
The second half was non eventful for Diener, he didn't play much and got a caught out on the court with Nelson so really just became a bystander. The kid keeps plugging away and doesn't seem impressed with some of the more athletic and physical defenders that are trying to intimidate him on the court. Hopefully he uses this to produce a bit more in the next few games.
Chris Paul- Paul got banged up in the last game and didn't play in the first half. He is dressed but probably won't play in the 2nd half either.
Paul indeed did not play today at all. Hopefully we'll see him in the next game.
Jackson Vroman- Vroman did a great job fighting with Dwight Howard all day long in the paint. You could tell that he really managed to frustrate the high school stud, forcing him into a couple of bad shots (which he sometimes hit anyway) and even baiting him into Howard uncharacteristicly losing his cool for a second. Vroman is one scrappy dude, that's for sure, and he's animated enough on top of that to really like him as an energetic hustle guy who will probably stick in the league for a while. His offense isn't really anything to write home about at this point, but here in Summer League he can do some damage around the paint with his athleticism, size and hustle. He scored on Howard twice here and overall did a very solid job.
In the 2nd half Vroman sat most of the time to allow the Hornets to get a look at some of the big men that aren't guaranteed a roster spot for next season.
J.R. Smith- Smith came out firing right off the bat on his way to a good 12 to 15 shot attempts in the first half alone. His shot is incredibly streaky and it will fall for him two or three times on consecutive possessions before abandoning him for an entire quarter. Regardless, JR continues to chuck em up there, because he needs such little space to get it off. His inbetween game is nonexistant at this point as his ball-handling is still weak, but here in Summer League that isn't too much of a problem for him.
J.R. showed some flashes of greatness, including a few very nice passes in transition, an explosive move or two to the basket to finish with a thunderous dunk. His potential is off the charts, but it's questionable whether he will be able to acheive it unless he matures and really works on rounding out his game. Smith missed what would have been the game tying basket with a three pointer at the end.
Maciej Lampe- A lot of the same from what we saw in the previous two games out of Lampe. He was hit or miss from the perimeter and pretty good when he got the ball inside. His defense was spotty, but he showed some nice ball-handling skills bringing the ball up the court. He shows some great flashes here and there, but hes going to have to be more active and aggressive if he is going to do anything in this league.
Sean Banks- Banks not only has issues he needs to deal with off the court, he just isnt really that good of a player from what he has shown here in three games so far. His shot is off, he is not putting the ball on the floor at all, his defense is average and he isnt using his athleticism whatsoever.
He woke up a bit in the fourth quarter today, even taking the ball to the basket some and getting to the line, but he has his work cut out for him big time in the next three games if he wants to really make a case for himself to make someones roster as an undrafted free agent.
Troy Bell- Troy Airbell as they call him in Spain is living up to his name here, jacking up wild shots, doing a poor job of running his teams offense in the absence of Chris Paul and playing without any kind of intuition or general direction. The #16 pick three years ago will be very fortunate to see himself land on someone's roster this upcoming season when it's all said and done.
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