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SL 2003: Lakers Crush Rockets In Opener
FRIDAY, JULY 11, 2003   11:59 PM CT
By Dr Of Dunk
Copyright 2003

Houston Rockets 78
Los Angeles Lakers 98
Malick Badiane - 14
Juaquin Hawkins - 12
Jason Miskiri - 12
What a way to kick off the SPL for the Rockets. I've seen better games on an Atari 2600. Many of us knew when we saw the roster that we weren't going to be in for anything special with this squad, and we got exactly that - nothing special. The play was sloppy as is to be expected with most of these summer league games. Many of you watched the game on tv, so I won't get into too many details. Besides, there wasn't much to get into.

There are only 2 people that 99.9% of you care about from these games, so let's start off with those two :

Badiane brings his game to the US
Malick Badiane started the game off a bit awkward and overmatched by umm... Eric Chenowith. Yes, you heard me right. Chenowith's game was on early as he was hitting everything he threw up. Malick's defense wasn't that bad, but he was outweighed by the people he was usually guarding by about 10-30 lbs it seemed. He's not ready to play post defense if he'll be going up against 250+ pounders in the paint. He's more of a power forward type who was forced to play quite a bit of the 5 in this game. I expected Badiane to have nothing on offense as that's what I kept reading. He does have an offensive game albeit a bit (sorry for the cliche) raw.

He has a competent 15 foot jumper that I saw him pop during warmups and saw him hit a couple of during the game. In other words, he's not a Dikembe Mutumbo when it comes to offense. On defense, he's a pogo stick. I saw him out of position a lot for rebounds and still go after them. Of course a lot of times he was out of position because he was being blocked out by bigger players. He definitely hustles on defense and offense as I saw him go after blocks a few times, come flying in for rebound jam attempts a couple of times, and dive to the floor a few times. I saw him run the floor on a break after a turnover, but miss the dunk because he went too far under the basket (court awareness, Malick!).

Malick has a jump hook that has some serious potential. He shot that shot a few times, and shot it like he knew what he was doing. Badiane also showed a turnaround spin move he apparently has, although he got called for traveling on that particular play. Some Lakers fans next to me who seemed knowledgable about basketball commented they liked what they saw in him. I agree. He seemed to get more comfortable as the game went on and ended up leading the Rockets in points for the game. It's only 1 game, so I'll reserve any further judgment till I see more.

Boki? Where are you?
I was hoping Bostjan Nachbar would ignite in his first SPL game. He didn't. I'm not sure what he ended up with, but he had a tough time getting around Luke Walton's D. Although Boki didn't light up the scoreboard, he did show a lot of positives. He brought the ball up court - or should I say pushed the ball up court a couple of times. He can dribble the ball effectively for his height. I thought on a couple of plays he dribbled the ball too much when he really had no shot or play to make and probably should have passed off. Yes, he Moochied the ball, and ran off too much time. But that's cool - he's young, he'll learn. His shot was slightly off, but the stroke is beautiful to watch. His defense was average at best. There's not much else I noticed about his game.

The not ready for prime time players
I'd be surprised if Tito Maddox makes the team. But then I was shocked when he made it last year, so what the hell do I know. Jannero Pargo was giving Maddox fits in the first quarter. Tito continued with his usual mistakes and turnovers early.

Jason Miskiri actually played pretty well. He has a pretty decent jumpshot and protected the ball better than Tito did, in my opinion. Whether or not he makes the team is another story, but he did stand out among the "who the hell are they" players.

Juaquin Hawkins played really well. As usual, he was a terror on defense and popped a few 16-20 foot jumpers. I really love this guy's game and hope he has a spot on the bench.

Other Interesting Observations
During a timeout Rockets assistant coach Patrick Ewing went over to Tito Maddox and talked to him solo. I'm not sure what was said, but Patrick wasn't screaming or yelling, but he sure wasn't smiling leading me to believe it wasn't a "hey, nice to meet ya" conversation.

When the game was really getting out of hand early, the Rockets went to a trapping/pressing defense. It worked a few times. The Lakers were caught off-guard and they turned the ball over. It was fun to watch, and hopefully we'll continue to see more of these type of in-game adjustments during the regular season.

No sign of Eddie Griffin who was to be practicing with the summer league team, but wouldn't play with them.

Carroll Dawson and Jeff Van Gundy sat at the game together. The glare off of Van Gundy's head is mind-boggling.

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