Iowa Energy 107, Tulsa 66ers 102 (Box Score)
The top-ranked Iowa Energy won the first game of this second-round playoff series, a frankly ugly affair that saw players for both teams looking pretty rusty. How rusty? The Energy shot 1-8 on three-pointers and 0-5 on free throws in the first quarter, while Mustafa Shakur, Kyle Weaver and Larry Owens combined to start out 2-10 for Tulsa. Those early struggles are somewhat understandable since neither team had played in five days, but Iowa eventually was able to shake off the rust and ran up a 12-point lead. Tulsa started to come back in the fourth quarter, but the Energy were always able to answer. On to the stars/non-stars of the game, and this one was so shaky I'm only naming two stars:
- Denham Brown was (very) recently signed by the Energy after playing six games in Venezuela, and he was pretty much the only player on the floor who looked ready to go from the jump. Brown finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds, and was doing his work both inside and out.
- Darian Townes was excellent off the bench for Iowa, filling in for the foul-plagued Connor Atchley to score 20 points, grab nine rebounds and collect three blocks. Townes scored a total of 21 points in the regular season, so this kind of output was unexpected.
There were a lot of guys who didn't play well in this game, at varying degrees of "not well." Curtis Stinson, for example, had a triple double - 17 rebounds, 20 points and 17 shots. He had eight assists, but also eight turnovers. These guys, though, were bad enough to be called "non-stars":
- Mustafa Shakur never recovered from his poor start, and wasn't even on the floor at the end of the game. Shakur shot 1-7, and while he had five rebounds and four assists in 19 minutes, he was killing Tulsa on the offensive end.
- Kyle Weaver had a Curtis Stinson-like game: 19 points on 17 shots, 10 assists and eight turnovers. He picked his game up a little bit in the second half, but he just generally looked out of sync with his teammates. With Shakur struggling, Weaver could've picked his team up to keep them in the game early on, but did not.
- I've already mentioned Connor Atchley's foul trouble (four in less than 16 minutes), but he also didn't look nearly as sharp on offense as he did against Utah - just 2-7 shooting, and it's not like Byron Mullens was particularly good defensively. Atchley was just missing easy shots.
- I'll give you a fourth to keep a total of six players (because I think I'm supposed to). Jeff Trepagnier thought he had to be extra assertive on offense for some reason, which led to 6-19 shooting. He was 1-8 from outside, including a three-pointer that hit the top of the backboard. Not the side, the top. I'm really not sure how either team scored over 100 points.