I'll post the highlights whenever they show up.
#8 Tulsa 66ers 119, #4 Sioux Falls Skyforce 109 (Box Score)
The headline pretty much says it all. Not having Alexander Johnson hurt the Skyforce as they had a hard time keeping D.J. White in check, and they also had no answer for White's Thunder teammate Kyle Weaver. Sioux Falls came out hot and led after the first quarter, but eventually the 66ers remembered that 80 percent of their lineup had NBA contracts and started playing like it. Sioux Falls didn't play particularly poorly (except maybe for their perimeter defense), shooting 53 percent from the field and 50 percent from outside and grabbing as many rebounds as a team as Tulsa did, but it's hard to compete with that much talent.
In keeping with Scott's system, here are my three stars (and, after the jump, three non-stars) of the game.
- I'm an unabashed fan of Kyle Weaver, but it's also true that he looked like the best player on the floor. He scored 30 points on 15 shots, and even went 5-6 from outside, somewhat surprising because he's not usually a great shooter. At one point, he had scored 11 straight points for the 66ers. Weaver also added five rebounds and a pair each of assists and blocks, was able to drive into the paint with ease, and never looked like he was forcing things.
- D.J. White looked a little rusty on defense early on, but he finished with 21 points on 13 shots in a little over 29 minutes. White also had five rebounds and four assists, the latter of which was second on the team. White was causing matchup problems for several of the Skyforce players and, that early rustiness aside, looked a lot better than I expected considering he's played seven games in the last four months. I really wish he could stay healthy enough to get more NBA playing time. It also probably would help if he played for a team that didn't have, like, six other big men.
- I honestly could've picked another Tulsa player for this, but instead I'll go with Sioux Falls's Greg Stiemsma. Stiemsma looked very good early on, scoring inside and making his presence felt on the boards. He got into foul trouble, though (he picked up his fourth early in the third quarter), which seemed to limit his aggressiveness on the defensive end and led to his sitting for the vast majority of the second half; otherwise, I'm sure he maybe could've helped contain D.J. White in the second half and continued to require Tulsa's defensive attention inside. Stiemsma finished with 11 points on 4-7 shooting and seven rebounds, all of that coming in the first half. Stiemsma will need to continue being efficient and effective on offense, especially if Alexander Johnson misses game 2.
- David Bailey finished with okay numbers, 12 points on eight shots, six assists and four rebounds, but his defense was pretty bad and he missed both of his three-pointers. Bailey is undersized even as a PG (he's anywhere from 5'6" to 5'8"), but it wasn't his size that was a detriment as much as not being able to keep Weaver and Mustafa Shakur out of the lane.
- Kirk Penney didn't play all that poorly (although his defense also wasn't great), but he only shot three three-pointers. And while he made two of them, and finished with a team-high 16 points, he needs to be a bigger offensive presence than that. The Skyforce's offense maybe isn't built around perimeter play, but it's certainly a large component, and the opportunities are there for Penney to have a huge game like he did when he dropped 40 points on Bakersfield. Yes, I'm probably reaching here, because I said Sioux Falls didn't play all that poorly, but they also didn't have anyone who really tried to take over and change the momentum. Penney could've done that.
- DeVon Hardin went 0-1 with one rebound, two blocks and four fouls in a little under 12 minutes. One of those fouls was really dumb, against Raymond Sykes's layup at the buzzer. Your team's up by 13, just let it go. Although maybe this third slot should go to Tulsa's coach Nate Tibbetts for not putting in Latavious Williams in the game with five minutes left and the team up by 20 (and, more generally, leaving Shakur, Weaver and Mullens in the game in that situation). Does Colbert still do the "on notice" thing? Because you're on notice, Nate Tibbetts.