We have a champion.
It really seemed like I was going to devote a lot of this recap to the referees (and I'll get to them), but Colorado picked up where they left off in the first half of Wednesday's game, running away with this one in the fourth quarter and winning the D-League Championship. This game was close through three thanks to lopsided foul calls in Utah's favor and a bunch of Colorado turnovers, but then in the final period the 14ers went on runs of 13 and 10 points to put this one out of reach. There was a complaint in the comments yesterday that I'm not providing you all with enough wrestling references, so this recap will be full of them.
The player who had the best game? Of all people, it was probably Joe Dabbert. Dabbert didn't miss a single shot and finished with 21 points, seven rebounds and five blocks before fouling out with four and a half minutes left in the game. Because of his field goal percentage, Dabbert gets a Mr. Perfect video.
Other solid players for the 14ers were Sonny Weems, who had led all players in both scoring and assists with 25 and 7, and the assists are what impress me. Regular point Eddie Gill was struggling for large parts of this game, but Weems helped distribute the ball a little bit and got the other guys going, even throwing an alley-oop to Dabbert at one point. I said "solid" so of course Josh Davis is next, with 21 points and seven rebounds (and two key three pointers in the third quarter), Trey Gilder had 14 points and seven rebounds, and John Lucas III had 17 points and five assists, and was really the one who put the offense back on track in the fourth.
Utah was led by JR Giddens, who had another strong double-double with 17 points and 15 rebounds, and Kevin Kruger, who made his first eight shots on his way to 18 points and five assists. For them, I think the Rockers will do nicely here, with Giddens in the Shawn Michaels long-term star role and Kruger as Marty Jannetty.
The rest of the Flash played anywhere from fairly solid to pretty bad. Morris Almond and Ronald Dupree were fine, I guess, with 18 and 14 points each, but on the brink of losing the championship I would've liked to see more. Andre Ingram hit a few outside shots that kept Colorado on its heels. After that, though, it starts getting rough. Road Warriors, these guys weren't.
A quarter by quarter breakdown when you hit the jump.
Colorado started this game in almost entirely the opposite way that they ended it. There were a lot of lazy passes on their part, a lot of balls that had to be saved from going out of bounds and loose balls that weren't picked up cleanly. Weems and Gilder provided a spark off the bench, though Weems probably looked to shoot a little too often. The 14ers shot 1-6 on three pointers for the quarter. On Utah's side, Mo Almond had eight of his 18 points in the first and Giddens had four rebounds.
This is where Dabbert and, on the other side Kruger, started going to work. Weems started shooting a little better, but Utah's Gavin Grant went on a nice little run to end the quarter, scoring five points in the last minute and a half. There was a stretch where fewer fouls were called that allowed the 14ers to start going on a run, but Brent Barnaky put a stop to that (and it really was all Barnaky last night. There was nary a peep from Magic Marat Kogut), and by the end of the half the Flash had taken 22 foul shots to Colorado's six.
Colorado's three point shooting improved a lot after halftime, and Josh Davis hit a couple of key threes to keep Colorado in the game. Kruger continued his hot shooting, though Utah went three minutes of game time without scoring a point. There was also a lot of falling down in the third quarter - Kentrell "Grrrr" Gransberry, Josh Davis, Mo Almond, you name it.
Colorado's run probably started with John Lucas III hitting a pair of jump shots a few minutes into the quarter, and his presence really seemed to energize the team. For whatever reason, Gill just wasn't getting it done tonight. Neither was Dominique Coleman, who in addition to getting burned by Giddens ended up with six points on 3-15 shooting. In fact, you could say Coleman was a disaster. Anyway, after Lucas's shots, Dabbert got back into the action with a dunk on Brian Jackson and then an alley-oop from Weems. The 14ers made five straight shots at one point, and ended the game - and their championship run - in the style they're most comfortable with.
Thanks again to all of the commenters who stopped by our playoff Open Source Live Blogs, they really were a lot of fun. Posting may be light this weekend as Scott and I figure out our off-season plans for the site, and because I don't plan on being around the computer much on my birthday. But rest assured, we'll have all kinds of good stuff in the months leading up to the NBA Draft and Summer League's.