The Toros' road trip continues and the team seemingly doesn't ever want to leave the court.
Rich, Chocolate Overtime
The Toros only played two games this week, and they must've wanted some extra work as both games went into overtime. They dropped the first game to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, but rebounded to defeat Tulsa, halting their losing streak at four.
I wrote about the first game in some depth here. In summary, it was a great game that the Toros seemed almost certain to win until midway through the fourth quarter when Marcus Williams went to the bench. At that point the Mad Ants worked their way back and traded baskets with theToros all the way to the end. Both teams stepped up their defensive intensity in the overtime period, and Walker Russell Jr. had a steal and a layup to take the lead at the end.
I missed the second game, but thankfully Welcome to Loud City ran a live blog of the proceedings. While it's understandably geared more towards the Tulsa side, it appears that Marcus Williams was his usual brilliant self (2 turnovers in almost 52 and a half minutes? Wow.) Dwayne Jones went about his business of collecting strong double doubles (33 points on 18 shots and 23 rebounds, both season highs), and after that Austin was looking for help in all the wrong places. DeMarcus Nelson needed 20 shots to get 15 points in 44 and a half minutes. Ezra Williams followed up my tentative praise by going scoreless in 11 and a half minutes. DerMarr Johnson actually played okay, with 18 points on 9 shots including 3-5 from three, and he got a bit of redemption as he hit two free throws with 0.5 seconds left to ice the game after missing the team's final shot on Tuesday. He also had five fouls, though, and I can't imagine he was playing defense with the same intensity as Stanley Burrell, who had the same amount.
First off, I'm sorry that headline is so terrible. I really tried thinking of another one and just couldn't. However, I do want to talk a little bit about a player you probably don't hear much about, the Toros' starting PG Carldell "Squeaky" Johnson. He's not the best distributor around or the best shooter, and while he's a decent defender, the Toros typically bring Stanley Burrell in when they want to lock down an opposing point. But Squeaky Johnson just does not turn the ball over. He's had only four games this season with four turnovers, and he's never had more than that, averaging 2.9 turnovers per 48 minutes. By contrast, Walker Russell Jr., who I think is probably the best all-around PG in the D-League, averages 5.2 turnovers per 48 minutes. Squeaky spends a lot of time on the court (the Tulsa game was the first since Jan. 8 where he played less than 35 minutes), and while he's not likely to appear in the call-up rankings anytime soon, given how many possessions the Toros typically rack up, Squeaky's ability to hang on to the ball is essential.
"The only second chance I know is the chance to make the same mistake twice."
The Toros play their second and final game of the season against Erie on Wednesday, then travel to Fort Wayne to play their second and final game against the Mad Ants on Thursday. While the wounds from the Fort Wayne loss are a little fresher, the first Erie game also ended in a Toros loss all the way back in December. Revenge isn't the only thing on the menu, though, with Austin a half game back in their division and the chance to pick their first-round playoff opponent at stake.