Spending 4 days in a gym can start to affect you in weird ways. The lighting starts to make everything appear washed out. The same uncomfortable chair starts to kill your back. The same conversations with the same people become boring and tedious. I mean, how many times can you say, "Hey, how's it going?" to somebody and expect them to have a witty response. And vice versa. At this point, everybody just shrugs an "eh" at you.
On the other hand, I did step out today and get some different things done. I will break it out into two or three different posts -- I haven't decided yet -- because I have a lot for you.
Btw, the games don't start today until 5:00 Spurs time so the preview will be coming later. Because, you know, all y'all are sitting around waiting for the preview.
First things first. I introduced myself to RC Buford and Dennis Lindsey. GM and Assistant GM. I handed out business cards that started a conversation about whether Pop knew I had a web site called Pounding The Rock. The discussion was about whether or not there were trademark issues involving it. I said I had kind of wondered about that myself. They said, with a bit of a chuckle, Pop would let me know when I met him. Or something like that. Good way to start the day.
As you would expect, they were very pleasant guys and Dennis thanked me for coming up and introducing myself. A rambling aside. Here's the thing with me. My memory is very good because I remember things visually and by association. I can remember where on a page a line from a book is. Left page, right page, top, bottom, middle. I can remember faces from situations then pull that face and situation out of my memory to say, "Hey, I saw you at the airport in Atlanta in 2005". Goofball stuff like that. Where I fail, and I fail massively, is when I get the data into my head incorrectly the first time. And that's what I've done with Dennis Lindsey. I got David in my head. I will guarantee you that I screw this one up in the worst possible way at some point in the future. Say it with me now, "Dennis. Dennis. Dennis." One more time, "Dennis".
Onto the games.
The opener was the Minnesota Timberwolves vs the D-League Select team.
The TWolves led 48-38 at the half and, I thought, the D-League guys were playing pretty scrappy to stay that close. They just didn't have the talent to compete with these guys. OR. SO. I. THOUGHT. In the second half, the D-League guys put on the best exhibition of team basketball I have seen in 16 games. They thoroughly dismantled the TWolves. They forced turnovers and ran them out of the gym. They displayed the best cutting and interior passing I have seen since Fabricio Oberto was running wild in the Spurs front court.
The D-Leaguers opened the second half with five straight layups and over the quarter outscored Minnesota 30-10. It was a schooling. And the D-League guys were as excited as any bunch that I have seen play here in Vegas. I really think they played with a bit of a chip on their shoulder and wanted to prove they belonged.
D-League Select players of note:
- Othyus Jeffers - He poured in 20 points and grabbed 7 rebounds in 25 minutes.
- Gary Forbes - Also scored 20 points
- Coleman Collins - 15 points and 7 rebounds.
- Walker Russell - 9 points and 5 assists in 17 minutes
- Wayne Ellington - 22 points on 8-14 from the field and 4-7 from long range. Don't let this fool you. The only thing he did well in this game is shoot. He got absolutely destroyed on the defensive end. Add in 2 rebounds and 0 assists in 28 minutes.
- Jonny Flynn - He really toned down his shooting in this one and did a LOT of passing. He ended with 14 assists. He had 7 of them in the 4th quarter when the TWolves started working him with the high screen and roll. Think the Tony Parker play. He basically Chris Paul'd them. He drove in the paint, maintained his dribble, and found shooter after shooter. It was a very impressive performance for him.
- Oleksiy Pecherov - Who? That's right, the guy the TWolves picked up in the Foye-Miller for the #5 pick. He's a 7-footer who hasn't seen a long open jumper he didn't like. He had 15 points and 10 rebounds including 3-4 from 3-point. If he had space, he let it fly.
- Garrett Siler - Who two? The big man from Augustana is listed at 6' 11" and 305 pounds. He is a BIG, BIG man. I would have put his height at 7' 1". He may stick. He moves pretty decent for as big as he is and has some athleticism.
- Corey Brewer - I'm still unimpressed with his play.
Game Two - Suns vs Mavs
This was another foul-plagued disjointed game. The teams combined for 67 fouls and 77 free throws (it should be noted that the 77 free throws are much less than in a regular season game because they don't go to the bonus until they are under the 2:00 mark). The Suns got out to an early lead, 25-15 after one and the Mavs wouldn't go away and slowly fought back to tie the game going into the fourth. Robin Lopez aka Fropez aka Sideshow Bob dominated this game. I didn't realize how big he is. He is a very large man and the Mavs couldn't handle him. His 24 points and 16 rebounds were fairly quiet. I didn't know those were his stats until much later in the day when PhoenixStan of Bright Side of the Sun told me.
- Lopez - He's just too big and good with the ball for this level.
- Taylor Griffin - Blake's older brother has some upside. He's physical and aggressive and could carve himself out a role on the Suns an energy guy at the 4.
- Goran Dragic - The guy the Spurs traded to get Malik Hairston AND the pick that we used to draft DeJuan Blair. He looked pretty poor. Our best guess is that he didn't feel to good. Maybe a stomach flu or something. He bares some watching because he is slated to be the Suns backup PG this year.
- Alando Tucker - The third year pro looked OK. At this stage of his career, he should be a better player against the competition. Again, another guy to watch over the next few days.
- Josh Carter - Another Aggie. I was unaware he even played. No comment.
- Earl Clark - the Suns first round pick took a DNP with back spasms. Apparently, he has a high degree of empathy and was feeling LatinD's pain.
- Ahmad Nivins - He struggled today, but he does work hard. He had 12 points and only 4 rebounds in 27 minutes. He went 3-9 from the field. He's struggled with his offense since the first day.
- Luke Jackson - Couldn't get his shot to fall. 1-4 from the field and 0-3 from distance. More on him in a bit.
- Rodrigue Beaubois - He really fell from his electrifying performance on Saturday. He scored some points late to pad his stats. He ended with 16 points and 3 assists before hurting his knee very late in the game. Again, more on that in a bit. Overall, though, I thought he looked pretty average. He is an end of game nightmare for the other team though. He can hit the three of the dribble and when given a license to chuck is very dangerous.
Nathan Jawai - Another Aussie suiting up in Vegas. Nathan is an enormous man. He's listed at 6' 10" 280, but he looks bigger in every direction. He hurt his ankle also. More in a bit. I steeled myself, prepared my questions, and then interviewed him. Nathan Jawai Interview This was an epic low in journalism. Listen if you are a sadist. On top of all this, I stepped on his flip-flop he was wearing on his bad ankle and he was shuffling on his ankle the whole time. (I just listened to it for the first time. It's not that horrible, but I really felt uncomfortable.)
- Curtis Jerrells - He got very little run this game with only 5 minutes. He scored 8 points in that 5 minutes though. I like him. He's a Acie Law IV kind of player. An in between guard who can be very physical. For him, I think it is about carving out a role with the right team.
Game Three - Raptors vs Blazers
I did something a little different for this game. Since I had seen the Raptors twice already, and the Blazers don't have a really compelling roster, I decided to put one guy under the microscope. DeMar DeRozan. There will be a separate post coming shortly about him. For the rest, here is my two cents from this 92-87 victory by the Raptors.
- Jerryd Bayless - He is an animal at the point in this environment. He got whatever shot he wanted. He only went 7-17 from the floor though and finished with 22 points He also had 7 assists and 6 turnovers.
- Dante Cunningham - He's the reason this roster is now MORE compelling to me. He had 21 points -- all in the first 3 quarters -- and 9 rebounds.
- Jeff Pendergraph - 12 points and 7 rebounds.
- Quincy Douby - He continues to score points with 20 in this contest. They are playing him quite a few minutes at the point guard and he is using that time to get off shots. He did, much to my surprise, have 5 assists.
- Smush Parker - DNP-CD. Interesting.
Game Four - Pistons vs Warriors
This is the game I wanted to watch from the beginning of the day. The Warriors have Anthony Randolph, Stephen Curry, Cartier Martin, and Anthony Morrow who suited up for the first time tonight. The Pistons young squad has been very impressive in their first two games. Plus, Connor Atchley is starting to get some burn for the Warriors. It was a disappointment. Well, the Pistons were a disappointment. I guess they hit their rookie wall because they got run out of the gym 97-69. In this game, I again did something different, and put the ATS microscope on DaJuan Summers and Jonas Jerebko. A separate post will be coming on that later.
- Anthony Randolph - 21 and 10. Again. He's just good offensively and he was more effective defensively today. He also got clipped by Jonas across the cheek and had to be treated. More on that in a bit.
- Cartier Martin - I'm not sure if his game will move to the NBA well since he is making his living at the line and they are calling tons of fouls here in Vegas. However, he has opened some eyes with his huge body and aggressiveness to the rim. He had 18 points and 5 rebounds with 12 free throw attempts.
- Anthony Morrow - He showed what we expected from him. He can shoot. Just a beautiful shot. 17 points, 6 rebounds, on 8-13 from the field.
- Stephen Curry - He stuffed the stat sheet today. 23 points, only 7-19 from the field though, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 steals, 4 turnovers. While I still question how good he can be defensively in the league -- he was eating up Jeremy Pargo on the defensive end -- against good competition, he did show today that he can do things without having his shot going.
- Connor Atchley - 7 points and 7 fouls. He's purely a shooter and he went 3-4 from the field with no 3-point attempts and 1-1 from the line. Defensively, he is a liability, but I don't think that we keep Don Nelson from looking at him seriously.
- Austin Daye - Whew, he flirted with the quadruple-double today. 11 points, 11 rebounds, 8 fouls, 8 turnovers. 0 assists. He looked gassed. In the 4th quarter, he just didn't have anything.
- Deron Washington - The athletic wing husltes -- 7 rebounds and a bruised sternum, more in a bit -- but continues to struggle shooting. He misses chippies and has now gone 5-18 from the line in the last two games.
- DaJuan Summers - 9 points on 3-11 shooting, 2 rebounds, and 10 fouls -- yes, you can foul out in Summer League and he did, in 28 minutes.
- Jonas Jerebko - 16 points and 4 rebounds and 1 non-call that drew blood.
- Jeremy Pargo - I think this was his first action of the week, I'm too lazy to look it up. He had 13 points and 4 assists in 24 minutes. However, he couldn't handle defensive pressure from Stephen Curry and got his pocket picked a couple times. He has a ways to go to be an NBA point guard. Hopefully, he will get some more time here.
The toll of the physical play
Yeah, I know that Jonas Jerebko mocked me for suggesting that the play here was physical, but people are showing up with injuries. Minor ones mostly, but lots of guys are sporting ice on places after games.
Deron Washington - ice bag on his chest. Nice guy. I talked to him a bit about it. He got an elbow and called it quits.
Nathan Jawai - Rolled his ankle in the first quarter. Ice bag on the ankle.
Rodrigue Beaubois - Knee contusion. Ice bag.
Anonymous - ice bag on the shoulder
Anthony Randolph - bloody cheek. Jonas Jerebko clipped him reaching for a loose ball. JJ then sought him out on the way down court and apologized. Unless you were looking for it, you would miss it. I'm always impressed when I see guys quietly showing sportsmanship like that.
DeMar DeRozan - ice bag on the ankle
Luke Jackson - two black eyes. I chatted with Luke for a minute or so today. I was right the Friday. Brandon Jennings did break his nose with an elbow. It was crooked. They tried to fit him with a mask but didn't have one that fit. In the second game on Saturday, he got hit on the OTHER side of his nose and it straightened it out. He said he is just trying to tough through it and that in a couple days they will have a doctor check it out to see what is up. Luke is a very nice guy, and very approachable but shy.
You guys get the picture. There is lots of ice being used.