It is only one game into the season, but when the Bakersfield Jam were able to overcome a 14-point deficit in the second quarter, and ultimately snatch away the victory from the Vipers in Hidalgo, Texas Friday night, we saw that it was the Jam's experience which trumped the Vipers talent.
There is something to be said about team chemistry and how it translates to victories on the basketball court. Even in the NBA D-League, where chemistry is often hard to come by with the fluidity of rosters that takes place on a weekly basis. But it is important, and Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey who was in attendance Friday night, saw firsthand that even though the Vipers roster looks real nice on paper, it will be establishing a level cohesiveness that will in the end help lead the Vipers to victories.
The visiting Bakersfield Jam were led by their returning players Renaldo Major and Brian Butch. Major finished the evening with 20 points and 6 rebounds, while Butch added 14 points and 15 rebounds. The two players were members of the Jam last season, and were instrumental in helping Bakersfield reach the semifinals in last year's playoffs. The Jam have a very deep roster, both Major and Butch will be able to lend their experience along with the guidance from their head coach Will Voigt to their balanced lineup.
Despite the Vipers having chance to win the game late in the fourth quarter, the team which is comprised of some impressive talent by way of assignments from Houston, couldn't manage to close out the contest. The Lithuanian born Donatas Montiejunas led all scorers for the night pouring in 31 points on 13-23 shooting. However, it was a defensive mistake from Montiejunas (defensive 3-seconds call) that helped the Jam finish off the Vipers in the end. Still, the Vipers had to be pleased with what they saw from the youngster, and it appears that he is in the right place spending time with RGV as his game further develops.
Returning players are prized possessions in the D-League, and in Bakersfield they will look to rely heavily on their experienced duo, as they look to embark on yet another successful season.