Shelvin Mack and Jerel McNeal once again provided a classic matchup for NBA D-League fans, as the two top 25 official NBA D-League prospects put on a show in Bakersfield, California Friday night. It was the third chapter of Mack vs. McNeal, and if it were a boxing trilogy, the fourth installment would be scheduled for a Pay-Per-View already.
Each time the two talented point guards have squared off, both players have seemed to exhibit an extra pep in their step, and have displayed an exciting brand of basketball on the court. After three very close battles, which player ultimately has bragging rights...for now?
Mack vs. McNeal Part I
Back in Reno at the NBA D-League Showcase, Mack and McNeal went head-to-head for the first time this season as Mack returned to the Red Claws after being waived from the Washington Wizards. Mack's impact was felt immediately and he scored 24 points on 9-of-19 shooting. McNeal dropped in a team-high 27 points and kicked off a stretch where he would score over 20-points in nine contests post-Showcase. Prior to Reno, McNeal failed to score over 20-points in his first 17 games, but since has positioned himself as a top guard prospect in the entire league.
Despite McNeal ending up with a higher point total, the advantage had to go to Mack as his 7 assists helped get three other Red Claws over 20-points in the 131-124 win. Mack 1, McNeal 0.
Mack vs. McNeal Part II
When Mack and McNeal took part in their second meeting, the two point guard forces perhaps sparked the storm dubbed "Nemo", which was considered to be the storm of the century in the Portland, Maine area. Snow and nasty weather elements aside, the action inside the Portland Expo Building provided added warmth to the surrounding area as Mack and McNeal went head-to-head once again.
This time around it was all McNeal, the former Marquette standout led all scorers with 28 points and grabbed 7 rebounds while handing out 7 assists. McNeal got to the line 14 times and converted 12 free throws, which helped make up for a rather tough shooting night.
However, Mack may of been the one feeling the affects from the outside weather the most, as he went 0-7 from beyond the arc and finished with 14 points. Mack struggled to find any sort of flow on the court in his 38:43 minutes of work. Bakersfield defeated Maine 104-94. Mack 1, McNeal 1.
Mack vs. McNeal Part III
McNeal and the Jam managed to shake off the rust from the All-Star break rather quickly, as the Bakersfield Jam hosted Maine for their third and final regular season meeting. The Jam got out to a quick start, but Mack and the Red Claws were able to cut the lead to two points entering half time.
Mack did everything he could possibly do in order to help the Red Claws sneak away with the road victory, the former Butler star poured in a season-high 36 points on 14-for-22 shooting from the field, and 6-of-9 3-point shooting. Mack also had 10 dimes to go along with 3 steals and 3 rebounds to finish the impressive evening.
Despite Mack's lofty effort, it was McNeal who ended up with the final say in this epic trilogy. McNeal finished the evening and final matchup against Mack with 28 points (8-15, 3-4 3p), 8 assists, and 7 rebounds and helped guide the Jam to their fifth straight win. Mack 1, McNeal 2.