Todays game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Memphis Grizzlies marked the eleventh and last day for the 2006 Long Beach Summer Pro League. Yet again it was a foul ravaged four quarters with the teams amassing 69 fouls between themselves. With Lakers center Andrew Bynum sitting this one out, the two Grizzlies stars, Hakim Warrick and Rudy Gay, pulled down 11 offensive rebounds. Down by 21 at one point, the Lakers rallied hard in the fourth with some last minute heroics by Devin Green and Marcus Slaughter, only to fail in the end losing 111-108.
The Grizzlies were the best team in Long Beach this summer, going 6-1 and beating the Lakers 3 out of 4 times. Second year SPL player Hakim Warrick teaming up with Kyle Lowry and Alexander Johnson would make them formidable enough, but the late addition of lottery pick Rudy Gay put them over the top. Were it not for injuries to Johnson, Gay and Lawrence Roberts, the entire summer could have been brutally one-sided.
Hakim Warrick Warrick scored 21 points on 7 of 15 shooting and pulled down 12 boards 6 of which were offensive. Warrick dabbled in the midrange game he showed flashes of at the beginning of the SPL, but mostly went back to dominating the paint. He threw down a couple of monster dunks and even showed a nice little hook in the paint. Warrick is poised for a breakout year if he can find any minutes in Memphis.
Rudy Gay Gay went 8 for 19 and 1 of 5 from three to score 19 points. Like Warrick, Gay also grabbed 12 rebounds and dominated the opponents glass by grabbing 5 offensive boards. He saved a terrible alley-oop pass from Warrick and managed to lay it in, got a layup and And-1 on a baseline drive, shot a pretty turnaround 10 and grabbed a couple boards for put-back dunks. One particularly pretty play saw Gay spin in mid-air to avoid the defender and then lay it up easily. On the down side he missed the rim on the second of two free throws wide-right, missed a three pointer by about 5 and airballed a 20pullup. Defensively he showed his great athleticism by pinning a ball to the backboard on a dunk attempt by Marcus Douthit. Rudy has a lot of ability and Grizzlies fans are going to have to be patient with him during his ups and downs as he learns the game and grows as a player. He has the pieces of the puzzle, he just has to put it all together.
Kyle Lowry Lowry shows flashes of real talent, but sometimes it feels as if he doesnt realize how good he actually is. When he wants to, Kyle can use his speed to get to the rim and get past just about any player on the floor. He rarely does this, however, and is often uninvolved in the offense after bringing the ball up the court. Sometimes you watch him and wonder why hes not averaging 30ppg against sub-par competition, and other times you wonder why he ever got any hype at all. He scored 20 points today, and made a living at the free throw line (10 of 15) but in this game, like every other game, you ask yourself if he could have done more and just chose not to. With players like Warrick and Gay, Kyle doesnt need to be the man, but that doesnt mean he shouldnt be assertive and take a leadership position.
Jordan Farmar Farmar ended up with 23 points on 7 of 15 shooting. He could have had 20 in the first half if he had hit his free throws, but struggled from the line, only going 4 for 8 in the first two quarters before going 3 for 3 in the second half. Farmar started out the game on fire hitting back-to-back threes, shooting a nice free throw line jumper, making a nice lefty runner, and shooting left-handed again on a layup for an And-1 opportunity on a goal-tended shot. In the second half he made another lefty runner and hung in the air for a while for a nice finger-roll. The folks in Long Beach have been continually impressed with his ability to use either hand in combination with his array of floaters, teardrops and runners from all over the key. There were some communication errors today (a botched in-bounds play, an ill-advised lead pass) but overall it was a solid outing for Jordan.
Devin Green Devin has been building momentum throughout the summer league, putting in solid performances the last several games. Today was no exception with Devin scoring 22 points on 10 of 17 shooting and 2 of 3 from behind the arc. He shot well from midrange again (a key point that he was supposed to work on this summer) and showed the hustle and smarts that the coaching staff loves him for. He shot a bank shot from the corner of the key, cut across the paint and caught the ball before pivoting back in for an uncontested layup, saved a broken play with a nice dish to Marcus Slaughter for a dunk, hit a corner 3 from behind the plane of the backboard and hung and avoided the defender for a layup. He also scored on a hook in the paint and a three to cut the lead twice in the final ten seconds of the game. Halfway through the SPL Devin started being more assertive and aggressive on the offensive end, and it did wonders for his game.
Von Wafer Sometimes I wonder if Von knows he doesnt have a guaranteed contract. Last year Von played hard every minute he was on the floor; lockdown D, aggressive drives to the hole, diving after loose balls, etc. This year its like hes barely there. Its as if he doesnt know that they might not pick up his option and he might not make the team. Wafer started the game, played 18 minutes, scored 6 points, but was a complete non-factor. That goes for his entire 2006 Summer Pro League campaign as well. Nevermind the big club, not only would Wafer not start if the SPL team was playing competitively, he would be lucky to be the ninth or tenth guy off the bench.
Eddy Fobbs Fobbs got the start today and it was ugly. He picked up two moving screens in the first 2 minutes of the game, missed an entry pass for a turnover, airballed a 12 and was denied by the rim on a put-back dunk. And that was just in the first quarter. He finished with 2 points, 3 rebounds and 7 fouls in 13 minutes.
Nile Murry Nile played 4 minutes and didnt accrue a single stat. This was his best game of the summer.