The Playoff Picture Came into Focus Last Night in the D-League

Curtis Jerrells is leading the Toros into the playoffs.

There were seven games last night, six of which had possible playoff implications by my count.  Rather than recapping all of them (because I only watched one and a half of them), I'll give you one recap and some other notes from the rest of the games.  Deal?

Austin Toros 104, Utah Flash 94 (Box Score)

  • Curtis Jerrells led all scorers with 26 points, 14 of which came from the free-throw line.  Other than getting to the line I once again wasn't all that impressed with Jerrells.  In the first half he mostly kept the ball himself on the pick and roll and rarely involved his teammates (although that improved in the second half as he finished with six assists), and he shot 6-16 from the field.
  • Eric Dawson would've been Austin's starting center after Dwayne Jones's call-up, but he apparently hurt his knee two nights ago and will be out for three weeks, essentially missing the playoffs.  Austin's other options are Luke Bonner (who, in addition to being Big Hugga, I've learned has the nickname "Bon-Bon") and David McClure.
  • So let's talk about them.  Bonner was mostly matched up against Luke Nevill and Brian Jackson, and I thought he played decent defense.  He definitely needs to improve his rebounding, however, especially his timing.
  • This might've been the best game David McClure has played all year.  He had four points (on a pair of dunks), eight rebounds and two blocks in about 24 and a half minutes, and generally looked less like a spaz than he sometimes does.  I'm still not crazy about his rebounding, as he tends to just tip the ball up rather than grabbing it cleanly, but this game certainly showed that there's talent to build on.
  • Utah shot pretty poorly, 24 percent from outside and 38 percent overall.  Gabe Pruitt looked pretty good off the bench, with 19 points on 13 shots, and much better defense on Jerrells than the team was getting from Kevin Kruger.
  • Luke Nevill was limited by foul trouble (four in less than 17 minutes), but I thought he still should've gotten more playing time in the second half.  Both because he would've forced the Toros to play Bonner, but also because it would've gotten Brian Hamilton off the court (2-12 shooting) and given Bennet Davis some easier defensive responsibilities.
  • Oh, speaking of Hamilton, I'm pretty sure his family was at the game (he's from Angleton, TX, which is sort-of near Houston).  At one point in the second quarter he got called for two quick fouls and started jawing with Jerrells, and this group of people started screaming at Jerrells and the refs.  So that was fun.
A few notes on the rest of the games after the jump.
  • I watched a good part of the Versus game (Erie/Maine), but I had to turn it off in the third quarter because, between a Tommy Heinsohn drop-in and interviews with both Chris Alpert and Dan Reed, it seemed like they were trying to talk about anything except the game.  Of course, Miles Simon was working this one, so I don't know why I'm complaining.
  • Kurt Looby had 10 blocks (along with 11 rebounds and six points on 3-3 shooting), giving him the D-League single-season block record.
  • Joe Krabbenhoft has been on fire the last two games.  After scoring 24 points two days ago, he had 23 points on 11 shots last night, along with 13 rebounds and seven assists.  Those last two are the most he's had this season in each category (he had 13 boards in one other game).
  • Sasha Cuic fouled out in less than 26 minutes, but he also managed to put up 12 shots in that time.  No, I don't know why I'm talking about Sasha Cuic either.
  • Latavious Williams was a perfect 5-5 from the field and finished with 13 points (he missed a free throw), and he grabbed eight rebounds in 17 minutes.  Yessssssssssssssss.
  • The D-Fenders seem to have a new starting lineup every game.  In some ways I can't blame coach Chucky Brown, because they have a lot of similar and inconsistent players, but I'll bet that part of that inconsistency comes from not having set expectations.
  • Craig Winder is back for the Vipers, and just in time; he had 13 points on nine shots last night, and they're going to need his bench scoring in the playoffs.  I'm not sure how far they'll get with a small forward (Mike Harris) as their best rebounder, though.
  • With Jones and Earl Barron called-up this week, the first round of the playoffs are going to be dependent on matchups even more than usual.  Only two teams have what I would call really strong big men (Reno and Sioux Falls), while several have some shaky or inconsistent ones (Dakota, Tulsa), and the higher seeds have the biggest question marks (Iowa, Austin).
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