Minnesota Summer League Day 4

Minnesota Summer League Day 4
Jul 19, 2005, 02:23 am
Game 1 – Milwaukee 79, Indiana 72

It may come as a surprise that the Bucks were finally able to win a game, but there simply isn’t anybody left playing for Indiana. Ron Artest was in the arena the entire evening, but didn’t suit up. Danny Granger is “hurt”, Jonathan Bender went missing after game 1, and David Harrison has only been playing about half of the time. Even Maurice Carter, who had been somewhat of a surprise in the league thus far, sat out the game due to injury. In any case, the story of this game was the play and subsequent actions of the #1 overall pick.

David Harrison vs Andrew Bogut – I had been waiting to see this matchup all week, as it was obvious that the one player Bogut would have the most trouble with was Harrison. Bogut isn’t a physical marvel, and the massive Harrison gave him fits. Bogut scored just three points in the first half (0-4 from the floor, 3-4 on free throws), while Harrison went for 14 points on 5-7 shooting. Bogut got frustrated, and clearly began to lose it when John Edwards straight up rejected his dunk attempt midway through the third quarter.

Several plays later, Edwards shoved Bogut to the floor when going for a rebound, to which Bogut reacted by charging across the court and shoving Edwards in the chest. The two were separated before things could get too violent, but the officials felt it was enough to warrant the ejections of both players. Bogut immediately backed off, and eventually exited the arena showing very little emotion. Perhaps it was the #1 pick trying to make a point that he isn’t going to let people pick on him?

Other Notes: There really isn’t much else to talk about from this game. Harrison sat out nearly the entire second half, and finished with 16 points in 14 minutes. Reece Gaines got on track a bit in the second half with his jumper, but he still has to be considered one of the bigger disappointments of the event. Chris Owens might not be a great prospect as far as his NBA upside goes, but he is certainly at the very least a formidable European prospect. His 16 point outing today was his third productive game of the week.

Game 2: Houston 93, New York 76

It turns out Houston has the best team here, which would have surprised me after the team’s performance in day one. The two veterans, Dion Glover and Lonny Baxter, are the reasons why. Baxter is a virtual lock for league MVP, and Glover really put on a show this afternoon. The Knicks squad is loaded with interesting prospects, and this is clearly the team that ends up with the most crowd-pleasing highlights.

Lonny Baxter – One might have been able to take Baxter’s systematic destruction of Minnesota’ s frontcourt with a grain of salt, but today’s 27 point, 7 rebound achievement of a game came against New York’s prospect-laden frontcourt. He did it all once again, but really is effective at getting post players to bite for pump fakes. He either has a shot up before the defender’s feet hit the ground again, or is already halfway to the basket for a power dunk. He hit several contested jumpers from the baseline as well. The way these officials are calling fouls just makes it even more unfair for the unlucky defenders. Nearly everybody was trying to say they’ve always liked Baxter, and weren’t surprised at all at his success here. Everybody is shocked a player this good couldn’t get minutes overseas playing in Greece, however.

Dion Glover – Glover has been getting to the basket at will all weekend, and that didn’t change today. However, what did change is that his jumper started falling. Glover isn’t the smartest player in the world, but is a truly special athlete and a quite a streak shooter. His line today was very impressive: 21 points, 6-13 shooting, 2-4 3-pointers, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 turnover.

Nate Robinson – Robinson has put on the breaks a bit, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. He’s still finding his teammates much more effectively than I ever thought he could (8 assists to 1 turnover today), and he gets into the lane whenever he wants. The tough thing about Robinson is that while he can create for himself, the shots he gets have a very high degree of difficulty. This is something he probably will have to shore up once the real games get going.

On a side note, here is a link to Robinson’s stunning put back dunk that was mentioned in yesterday’s article:

Thanks to the Minnesota Timberwolves for alerting us of this great find.

Other notes: Neither Channing Frye or David Lee are very comfortable as a back to the basket scorer, but both have found their ways to impress here. Lee has an incredible first step, and is just downright explosive going to the basket. If he can find a position, he could be very good. Chuck Hayes really got the best of Frye today when he came out and got in his face in the mid-post, but Frye still manages to produce. He will block an occasional shot, and has a sweet looking 15 foot jumper. There are several other very good summer league players on the New York roster. I’m liking Rueben Douglas more and more, while Jackie Butler had his best game of the week. Even Cheyne Gadson looks good getting to the basket. Luther Head had his worst game of the week, only scoring 3 points in 15 quiet minutes. David Bluthenthal isn’t shy when it comes to launching shots. The difference is that today he made them.

Game 3 – Toronto 80, Minnesota 63

Minnesota fans had a reason to hope for a moment when Rashad McCants came out of the locker room in uniform. However, he took long-range three pointers while everybody else did lay up drills, and never entered the game. There wasn’t much to talk about during this one, until Bryant Matthews put the hurt on Ndudi Ebi in one of the worst facials I have ever seen.

Tim Pickett – Pickett might come off as a bit of a headcase on the floor – he’s always quick to shoot and is even quicker to open his mouth – but he’s clearly one of the better players here. He slashed, dunked, and shot his way to a 16 point first half, before again quieting down in the second. Explosive is a word that fits his game to a T. I am definitely going to keep an eye on Pickett this fall, to see if he can latch on with an NBA team.

Bracey Wright – Wright came back from his injury to start at point guard tonight, and the results were mixed. He started out with a silky smooth driving jumper from the baseline, and followed that up with a three-pointer from the wing. Wright’s shot then abandoned him, perhaps because he was concentrating on running the team. He would definitely be better with another ball handler out there, to at least take some of those duties off his shoulders. Nonetheless, you have to like his first step and smooth ability to create his own shot. Wright finished with 15 points, but shot just 3-11 from the floor.

Other Notes: It’s obvious that Ndudi Ebi has some talent, but he’s just so far away from understanding how to utilize it. He forces nearly everything he attempts on the offensive end, and isn’t a factor on defense or the glass. Tonight he finished with 7 fouls and 5 turnovers. Uros Slokar couldn’t build on yesterday’s impressive performance, even with a very nice slashing lay-in early in the first quarter. His perimeter shots just weren’t falling. Dwayne Jones is taking his knocks this week, but has the look of a player. His hands are a critical weakness, and he really needs to stop trying to send every shot that goes up into the tenth row.

The dunk came when Omar Cook recovered a loose ball right around mid-court. Ebi was in between Cook and a streaking Bryant Matthews, who caught the pass just outside the three point line. Instead of doing the smart thing and giving Matthews the uncontested dunk, Ebi attempted to block the shot. Everybody in the crowd knew what was about to happen, and I’m sure Ebi probably had it figured out in the back of his mind. Nonetheless, the scene ended with a ridiculously thunderous dunk, Ebi lying on his back in a heap, and the entire Target Center gasping at what they had just seen.

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