RGV Vipers Win Game One of NBA D-League Finals Over Santa Cruz Warriors

Dennis Grombkowski

The NBA D-League Finals are officially underway, with the RGV Vipers taking game one of the series. Here are some of our game notes.

The Rio Grande Valley Vipers and Santa Cruz Warriors hit the minor league hardwood on Thursday night for game one of the NBA D-League Finals.

The NBADL is a league continuously exploring growth opportunities, and as such, has broadcasted just about all of their games on YouTube throughout the season. Games two and three of the best out of three series will in fact be aired on television by CBS SportsNet.

Here's the official report from the NBA D-League on game one:

Glen Rice Jr. scored a game-high 33 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the Rio Grande Valley Vipers to a 112-102 victory over the Santa Cruz Warriors in Game 1 of the 2013 NBA Development League Finals on Saturday night at the Kaiser Permanente Arena in Santa Cruz, Calif. Rice's effort was complimented by Toure Murry's triple-double of 17 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds for the Vipers. Travis Leslie led a balanced Santa Cruz offense with 19 points in defeat.

The Warriors charged into the first quarter, stretching their lead to as many as 10 points, at 25-15 with 2:49 on the clock, before settling for a 31-24 lead heading into the second quarter. Chris Daniels scored nine of Rio Grande Valley's points in the first, while the Vipers out-rebounded Santa Cruz 18-11 in the opening frame.

The teams traded buckets and the lead in the second quarter, with Rio Grande Valley taking a 32-31 advantage, their first since the opening moments of the game, with 9:29 to play in the first. But, Santa Cruz's Scott Machado scored a quick five points to regain the lead, 42-38, with 6:49 to play in the half. He hit another three with 5:13 to play to lead his Warriors a 42-38 advantage. From there, Rio Grande Valley went on a 13-5 run, knotting the score at 52 with 1:41 to play before Santa Cruz took a 57-54 lead into the halftime break. Santa Cruz's Travis Leslie led all scorers with 13 at the half, while Daniels and Glen Rice, Jr. each had 12 for the Vipers.

The third quarter was a battle, with the squads locking in 10 ties and the lead changing hands six times. Rio Grande Valley's effort coming out of the half was led by seven Glen Rice Jr. points and six D.J. Kennedy points, while Santa Cruz saw point guard Machado, on assignment from the Golden State Warriors, scored six in the third period on two-of-three from the floor. At the end of three, Santa Cruz led by three, 85-82.

The Vipers dominated the opening three minutes of the fourth quarter, out-scoring the Warriors, 10-1, to take a 92-86 lead, with 8:34 to play in the game. Leading by as many as four points with less than four minutes to play, Santa Cruz rallied back, tying the game at 102 a piece on back-to-back Jeremy Tyler buckets with 1:26 to play. The teams remained tied until Kennedy scored the go-ahead bucket with 43.3 seconds to play, giving the Vipers a 104-102 lead. They never trailed again, eventually outscoring the Warriors, 30-17, in the game's final stanza en route to the 10-point victory.

All five of the Vipers scored in double-figures, with Kennedy and Daniels chipping in with 16 apiece and Chris Johnson adding 12 in the win. Six Warriors finished in double-digits, with Maurice Baker picking up 16 points off the bench, good for second-best for Santa Cruz.

For more, here are a couple of extra game-related notes:

This in particular NBADL Finals matchup features two NBA assignees, one from each respective squad. As mentioned in the report above, Scott Machado is playing for Santa Cruz despite recently signing a contract with Golden State just a couple weeks ago. The point guard had been playing for Santa Cruz prior to his promotion, so it's only fitting he now lends a helping hand when it matters most. His 16 points highlighted quite an assertive offensive performance, one that anyone who watches the floor general closely would be surprised to see. He's much more of a natural distributor.

The second assignee, Tim Ohlbrecht, is another player who earned an NBA promotion after proving his worth with a team's minor league affiliate. The Rockets' big man is yet again donning an RGV uniform, and was one of six Viper players in double-figures. He added 14 points off the bench in his team's victory.

The game's leading scorer, RGV's Glen Rice Jr., is perhaps one of the more intriguing prospects in all of the minor league. This is likely more due to his potential future path, rather than simply his playing abilities. Through a certain loophole of sorts, the swingman will enter this coming summer's NBA Draft. For more on that, please click here.

And lastly, if you're looking for an unique NBADL Finals prospective, RidiculousUpside.com had you covered this week with exclusive interviews with the head coaches of both remaining teams. Gino Pilato spoke with Santa Cruz's Nate Bjorkgren (click here), and I also spoke with Rio Grande Valley's Nick Nurse.

As previously mentioned, both latter games of the NBADL Finals can and will be seen on CBS SportsNet this coming Saturday and Monday.

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