Last Night in the D-League (and not at the concert that I attended)

Taylor Griffin's receding hairline made its D-League debut last night. Look out, Anthony Tolliver! (via www.nba.com)

Au contraire, Scott!  There is a review of last night's games, I just didn't write it last night.

Iowa Energy 94, Dakota Wizards 82

Taylor Griffin is probably a borderline NBA bench player, but that makes him a pretty good D-League player.  19 points on 8-10 shooting and 10 boards for Griffin in his first game on assignment, though he also turned the ball over six times and committed a dumb flagrant foul.  Curtis Stinson handed out 11 assists (four of which went to Griffin), Mark Tyndale had 14 points on seven shots and Marvin Phillips grabbed seven rebounds in a little over 17 minutes off the bench for the Energy, but no one else played particularly well.

Dakota had problems right out of the game, when Curtis Withers missed a layup, got his own rebound, then missed another layup.  The Wizards scored just 14 points in the first quarter, and no one other than Mo Baker (and a 1-2 Marcus Dove) shot more than 40 percent from the field.  The rest of the team was "highlighted" by David Bell's 1-10, five turnover performance.  The team did okay on the boards, led by Withers's 10 rebounds (six offensive) and Renaldo Major's seven with four blocks, but they just couldn't hit shots.  Romel Beck led the team in assists with three (actually tied with Jason Straight), which might be the first time that's happened, ever.  I don't think that was a ball distribution problem as much as it was potential assists failing to go through the hoop.  Dakota has now dropped three straight, but they get a rematch against Iowa tonight.

Idaho Stampede 105, LA D-Fenders 95

The Stampede won despite poor outside shooting nights from Anthony Tolliver and Roberto Bergersen (1-6 each).  They won despite shooting less than 70 percent from the three throw line.  They won despite getting just 16 assists as a team.  They won because, surprise surprise, LA has a lot of guys who miss a lot of shots.  Idaho also got a terrific game from Sundiata Gaines (31 points, six rebounds, six assists), some solid rebounding (10 boards for Bryson McKenzie, nine for Tolliver, seven for Emmanuel Jones) and other than Tolliver and Bergerson, they made almost half of their threes.

Diamon Simpson had 10 rebounds and a team-high five assists (which should be embarrassing for the rest of the team) and James Jackson came off the bench to score 21 points on 13 shots and grab seven rebounds (though he made less than half of his free throws), but otherwise I'm really starting to hate how this team was put together.  Running down the field goal column in the boxscore, we have 3-10, 2-10, 5-13, 5-15, 2-6 and 3-10.  The fact that no one should be surprised by that makes me wonder what, in fact, the D-Fenders/Lakers braintrust was thinking when they assembled this roster.  There's athleticism, sure, and Ryan Forehan-Kelly wasn't this flaky last year, but poor shot selection abounds.

Reno Bighorns 107, Utah Flash 103

Russell Robinson only handed out four assists, but he had his best shooting night of the season, going 8-14 (including 4-6 on threes) and scoring 26 points.  Desmon Farmer didn't shoot particularly well, 8-20, but he did a great job of getting to the free throw line and made 13 of his 15 attempts there to finish with 33 points.  Rod Benson had 17 points and eight boards, but Reno was outrebounded overall.  They also didn't get a whole lot from their bench aside from Cezary Trybanski (nine points) and Doug Thomas (seven points, nine rebounds).  They won this game by forcing turnovers and at the free throw line; Orien Greene, Jordan Brady and Bennet Davis all fouled out for the Flash, while Carlos Wheeler finished with five fouls.

Dontell Jefferson had a fantastic shooting night, 10-19 for 30 points, but he also turned it over eight times against just three assists.  Who does he think he is, Desmon Farmer?  Several of those turnovers were in the fourth quarter as Utah was trying to come back, and no one else on the team finished with more than three; this one's all on DJ.  Of course, getting some odd foul calls doesn't help, and both Wheeler and coach Brad Davis got T'd up, I'm assuming for arguing the calls (Farmer also got a tech for Reno).  Wheeler had a very good game, 18 points and 15 rebounds (though a few of his six offensive boards were off his own misses), and Andre Ingram hit three of his four three-pointers and eight of his 10 field goals overall on the way to 23 points.

Austin Toros 115 Bakersfield Jam 89

Hey, you know who's not a good team?  Bakersfield.  Coach Will Voigt has apparently been reduced to trying crazy/dumb ideas like starting Amara Sy at center.  Sy rebounded okay, nine boards, but he needed 10 shots to get 10 points.  Austin's starting center Dwayne Jones, on the other hand, was a perfect 6-6 from the field and 7-8 from the free throw line, finishing with 19 points and 10 rebounds.  Lewis Clinch had a solid game with 23 points, and Alonzo Gee added 19 points and seven rebounds.  All 10 Toros played, nine of them scored, and the one who didn't (Augustine Okuson) still contributed with two rebounds and two blocks in seven and a half minutes.

Back to the Jam, they actually shot the ball pretty well; 42 percent on threes, 50 percent from the field overall.  Jeremy Wise came off the bench to score 19 points on eight shots, John Williams had 10 points on six shots, and the team had six players finish with double-digit scoring.  The problem was the defense - they let Austin score 67 points in the first half, and the points were coming from all over.  Threes, layups, jump shots, whatever.  Note to Will Voigt: this doesn't mean that you should try starting Reece Gaines at center.  It means you need to get a real center, and real defenders.

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