Maurice Baker Was Clutch Last Night In The D-League

via www.nba.com

Dakota Wizards 107, Iowa Energy 99 (Box Score)

  • Dakota's Maurice Baker had two points entering the fourth quarter of a 79-79 tie game.  He finished the game with 18 points, eight boards and five assists.  While his final box score performance from the field won't impress anyone - 5-of-15 from the field - he did exactly what a veteran point guard is supposed to do: took over the game when his team needed him most.  He went on a 9-1 run by himself three 3-pointers inside of a two minute span to bring the Wizards back from a 95-91 deficit to a 100-96 lead with two minutes left in the game.  While we haven't talked much about the 30-year-old minor league veteran (he's had a few call-ups, though none since 2005), there aren't many players that are able to bring the veteran presence he brings to a game - whether it's facilitating the offense from the point guard position or scoring when the rest of the team is cold, he gets it done.
  • Speaking of veteran presences, 31-year-old Corsley Edwards poured in 19 points and added nine rebounds in 29 minutes of action.  While the big man shot just 4-of-12 from the field, he hit 11-of-13 free-throw attempts to kind of even that out.  While I don't think Edwards has a shot at the NBA again, I'm really surprised that the Wizards were able to pick the former second round draft pick up in the middle of the season - there simply aren't that many big men in the D-League with the scoring acumen that Edwards brings to the table (I realize I'm saying this about a guy that just shot 4-of-12 from the field, but I guess you'd had to be there?).
  • 27-year-old Renaldo Major gets my third star of the game award.  Formerly a super-sixth man, he's taken on a starting role as of late with usual-starter Romel Beck being released due to a hand injury.  While he shot just 6-of-16 from the field, he finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and a block.  Having played for the Wizards since 2006 (save for the 2007-08 lost season when he had open seart surgery), Major brings another veteran presence to a team that seems to be loaded with savvy vets.
  • Lester Hudson will be the other player I mention for the Wizards, even if it was one of the quieter games of his D-League career.  Don't get me wrong - he still produced - it was just a quieter 18 points in 20 minutes than I've been accustomed to seeing out of the rookie on assignment from the Memphis Grizzlies.  The other day, I tweeted that "Lester Hudson could be a lot better if he made just a few good decisions each game."  While that's a bit rough on the rookie, he could learn a lot by learning from Baker to do what the team needs him to do, rather than trying to be the hero and throwing up all kinds of alley-oops all game.
  • For Iowa, Curtis Stinson led the way with 26 points and 13 assists, though some of those were offset by his five turnovers.  Even for a player averaging 17.7 points and 12.9 assists in the month of March, that's pretty solid - especially since he shot 10-of-21 from the field.  Why isn't he in the NBA, you ask?  Iowa Energy announcer Marty Tirrell explained that very question during the Baker run in the fourth quarter: "If you wanna know why Curtis Stinson's not in the NBA, watch his mouth right here. He can't keep his head in the game."  Tirrell even expounded on that statement, saying scouts sat right next to him and told him the same thing after his more-homer (that's a word, right?) announcing partner disputed the notion.  While I'd always heard it was his shooting (he shoots jump shots at a 39.6% clip on the last report I got and has made just eight of his 49 3-point attempts on the season), his head may also be an issue as he leads the league in technical fouls with 12.
  • Cartier Martin had 28 points on 11-of-16 shooting and added seven rebounds.  In Friday's game, he had 30 points on 17 shots and added 10 rebounds.  I'm considering this consistency, which is the only thing he's really been lacking in the D-League this season.  Therefore, call him up.
  • Jeff Trepagnier shot 2-of-11 from the field and finished with four points.  That's pretty bad - Iowa coach Nick Nurse even called him out in the post game show.  However, you can't deny his defensive efforts - not only the five steals that showed up in the box score, but the way the guy played D on Baker was quite astounding.  Considering Trepagnier's probably 30 pounds heavier than he was when he was drafted out of USC back in 2001 and starts at power forward for the Energy, I've been really impressed with his athleticism/footwork+handwork(?) on the defensive end this season.  The non-Tirrell aspect of the announce team said that he was "the best defender on the floor", but that was (at best) arguably wrong considering teammate Martin and Dakota's Major and Marcus Dove are at least in the same class as him on defense - and have earned accolades such as D-League defensive player of the year (Major) and Big 12 defensive player of the year (Dove).
  • Earl Barron had 18 points and 14 rebounds, though it took the former Heat big man 18 shots to get those 18 points.  On the month, Barron is averaging 21.3 points and 14 boards while shooting 52% from the field and has even hit 3-of-5 from beyond the arc.  Still, he hasn't had any looks that I've been made aware.  I guess I'll have to do some sort of study analyzing why NBA teams (and I don't necessarily disagree) believe that center statistics in the D-League translate to horribleness in the NBA.  The only center that was called up this season is Chris Hunter, and that's before the season even started.  Considering the gaudy numbers that Barron, Dwayne Jones and Brian Butch have put up, there's obviously something that doesn't make them even decent-enough-for-a-10-day-contract players in NBA scout's eyes.

That was the only game I watched yesterday (not coincidentally, it was also the only game that featured two playoff-bound teams), so if you'd like to know what else happened, check here for the box scores.

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