Greg Stiemsma came up big on both ends of the floor in the D-League playoffs.
Sioux Falls Skyforce 106, Tulsa 66ers 99 (Box Score)
This was a relatively fun game. One of my random predictions from before the series began belatedly came true, as Byron Mullens picked up a pair of technicals and was ejected late in the fourth quarter. I'm tallying it up as yet another win for my predictive powers. Please ignore the fact that Sioux Falls won despite being outrebounded 52-39 and that Tulsa's bench played relatively poorly. There were 12 more total turnovers in this game compared to game 1, due to a combination of more intense defense being played on both sides, and sloppy play likely resulting from these two teams playing twice in 32 hours. Now let's get to the
stars sigh, Monstars and non-stars.
- Greg Stiemsma, as I noted in the headline, was excellent in this game. He sat out the entire second quarter after picking up a pair of fouls in the first, but then he only got two more in the entire second half. He finished with 24 points on 7-11 shooting and 10-11 shooting from the free-throw line, along with 11 rebounds and eight blocks. He altered several more shots in the paint as well. Stiemsma also had five turnovers, but one of those was a bogus offensive foul call. I admit to not being crazy about Stiemsma's game last offseason, but either he's improved a ton on offense or I've just done a 180 after watching him more. Unfortunately for the Skyforce, rumor has it that he's on his way to Minneapolis for a workout with the Minnesota Timberwolves today. Timberwolves scouts were in attendance last night, so this would make sense.
- Leemire Goldwire played very well off the bench, particularly in the first half. Goldwire also went 10-11 from the free-throw line, as well as 3-5 from outside on his way to 23 points in just 22 and a half minutes. Goldwire also was a nuisance on defense, picking up five steals and playing decent defense against Byron Mullens, who's a foot taller than he is. Goldwire provided an offensive spark at a time when guys like Kirk Penney and Joe Krabbenhoft weren't hitting shots, and he helped the Skyforce build their first half lead.
- Larry Owens didn't have the best offensive night, 12 points on 4-9 shooting with several of those misses coming in the paint, but he was excellent defensively. This was probably the best game I've seen him play on that side of the ball. Owens grabbed seven boards and blocked four shots, and hounded Kirk Penney into a poor shooting night.
- Not to be mean about it, but if you're surprised that I'm calling a Byron Mullens a non-star after he finished with 13 and 12...well, you weren't watching the game. Mullens needed 11 shots to get those 13 points and just generally looked out of sorts for most of the game. He also turned the ball over six times, five of those coming in the first half, couldn't take advantage of mismatches against Joe Krabbenhoft and the aforementioned Leemire Goldwire, and missed a three-foot jumper with about 26 seconds left that would've put his team within four (he thought it should've counted on a goaltend, and he might've been right).
- Deron Washington didn't have a terrible game, as he finished with 21 points on 14 shots and eight rebounds, but he also turned the ball over five times and missed a pair of free throws with 31 seconds left and his team down six points. Washington also was the guy who got that bogus offensive foul called on Stiemsma, as he completely flopped on a screen, but that's really more the refs' fault for buying it than Washington's for trying it.
- DeVon Hardin and Latavious Williams share this (dis)honor by completely disappearing in this game. Hardin started but only played 12 minutes because he wasn't contributing anything on offense. Williams picked up four fouls in eight minutes, completely unlike him, and just generally looked like a rookie right out of high school. The two players combined for two points on 1-4 shooting and three rebounds in 20 minutes.