Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Orlando Summer League Update (Day 2)

Day 2- July 7, 2009

Game 1: Orlando 85, Boston 82

Orlando showed substantial improvement in their second game of their summer league. After a disappointing loss to OKC yesterday, the Magic’s squad bounced back with a huge come-from-behind win today against Boston. Orlando improved to 1-1 behind 33 points and 14 rebounds from Ryan Anderson, who has quickly asserted himself as one of the best players in this league. Anderson’s 33 came on 11-for-15 shooting, 2-for-2 from behind the arc, and 9-for-9 from the free thrown stripe. Jeremy Richardson, who played very well yesterday, struggled mightily today, logging only 9 minutes and 2 points. Kasib Powell (15), Darian Townes (10), and Maurice Ager (10) also notched double figures for Orlando. On a different note, shooting guard Courtney Fells recorded what might be the worst performance of the league so far, with a scoreless 0-for-8 outing.

Boston put up a second solid performance despite the absences of Bill Walker and Mike Sweetney. For the second straight day, it was a very balanced attack for the Celtics’ squad. A day after five players reached double figures, Boston saw four players surpass that mark against Orlando. Coby Karl led the charge with 18 points on 5-of-9 shooting, and JR Giddens added 17 points on 8-of-16. Also, for the second straight day, Gabe Pruitt (14) and Nick Fazekas (12) managed to reach double figures.

Game 2: Utah 83, Philadelphia/New Jersey 68

Utah won big in their second contest in Orlando, but in general, the performance wasn’t much better than the blowout loss they endured at the hands of the Celtics yesterday. Utah shot 41.7% from the floor, which was only up slightly from the 35.6% they shot yesterday. Josh Duncan was a bright spot again for Utah, as he led them in scoring for the second straight day with 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting in 17 minutes. Eric Maynor also netted 12 points on a disappointing 2-for-9 from the floor. Kevin Kruger made it to double figures with 10 points, and former Illinois forward James Augustine had a strong showing, making all 3 of his shots and tallying 6 points, 6 rebounds, an assist, a steal, and a block in just over 13 minutes.

The story for the split Philadelphia/New Jersey squad was almost identical to yesterday. Again, Mareese Speights took too many shots (He went 3-for-12 on day 2.), Terrence Williams and Jrue Holiday struggled offensively, and Chris Douglas-Roberts carried the scoring load. While Speights did record 5 blocks, he only scored 8 points, which put far to much pressure on the afore mentioned CD-R. Douglas-Roberts impressed again, scoring 27 points on 8-for-14 shooting and 11-for-13 from the charity stripe. Williams shot 3-for-11, but recorded 6 rebounds, a steal and a block, and Holiday shot 2-for-6 with 4 rebounds and 3 assists in 25 minutes.

Game 3: Indiana 91, Oklahoma City 88

Indiana improved to 2-0 with a close win over a talented Oklahoma City squad. Roy Hibbert scored 24 points on 7-for-8 shooting from the field to lead the Pacers. He also added 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and a block in his 34 minutes. Tyler Hansbrough also had another strong showing, netting 23 points and hitting 2 threes in 25 minutes off the bench. Brandon Rush, who played very well yesterday, sat out today with knee soreness.

Second-year point guard Russell Westbrook scored 22 points for the second straight day to lead Oklahoma City. He also added 8 assists and shot 9-for-15 from the field, a huge improvement on his 3-for-11 effort yesterday. James Harden moved into the starting lineup and was impressive again, scoring 19 points on 6-for-13 shooting. Serge Ibaka continues to be one of the surprises of the league, as he scored 13 points for the second straight day, although he did struggle defensively, recording 7 personal fouls. Shaun Livingston was given a day off as he continues his comeback from multiple injuries, but is expected to be available tomorrow.

Overall Impressions through Day 2

Through the first two days of the Orlando league, three players really stand out.
The first is Russell Westbrook. He struggled with his shot on day 1, but managed to get to the free throw line at will and created opportunities for his teammates all game long. On day 2, he straightened out his shooting woes, but still managed to facilitate Oklahoma City’s offense.
The second is Chris Douglas-Roberts. Douglas-Roberts was a prolific scorer at Memphis, and led the Tigers to the brink of a National Championship two years ago, but tumbled on draft day in 2008 and made no impact as a rookie. Now, Douglas-Roberts is proving to be an integral part of a curiously constructed squad that has managed to stay competitive despite inevitable chemistry issues. He is currently second in the league with a 23.5 point per game scoring average.
Last but not least is Ryan Anderson. Anderson, who was considered by most to be a toss-in in the Vince Carter deal, has been hands down the most dominating player in this league. Through two games, he is tops in the league with 27 points and over 10 rebounds per game. Anderson is very versatile, and could easily turn out to be a very suitable replacement for Hedo Turkoglu down the line.
Tyler Hansbrough has also recorded some pretty impressive performances. However, Hansbrough has been coming off the bench in the summer league, so I’m withholding judgment until he faces real NBA competition. I still believe that Hansbrough’s lack of athleticism will keep him from contributing at the next level, but his ability to step back and shoot, even from outside the 3-point line, has surprised me.

Upcoming Game on July 8:

Indiana @ Utah 3:00 ET
OKC @ Boston 5:00 ET
NJ/Phil @ Orlando 7:00 ET

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