In a 127-144 loss to the Tulsa 66ers on January 27th, Isaiah Canaan was limited to just eight minutes of action for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers after aggravating a hamstring injury that had been bothering him for quite some time. In wake of the injury, the Rockets recalled their second-round draft pick so that he could rehab his strained hamstring in Houston.
It came at an unfortunate time for Canaan, who was named the NBA D-League Co-Perfomer of the Week for games played between January 20-26. In the four games played over those seven days, the 6-foot guard averaged 25.8 points, 6.8 assists and 4.5 rebounds and led the Vipers to a 3-1 record. On top of that, he was unable to join his teammate, Robert Covington, in New Orleans last week to participate in the NBA D-League All-Star Game. However, after being sidelined for nearly three weeks, he was finally able to make his return last night when the Vipers went on the road to take on the Canton Charge.
Canaan played a total of 30 minutes in this one and showed no signs of favoring his hamstring. He moved well on the defensive end, sticking with Jorge Gutierrez and limiting him to just 3-for-9 shooting on the night. He was relentless in attacking the basket, which paid off in a big way, leading him to a season-high 17 attempts from the charity stripe. When it was all said and done, Canaan scored 26 points on 6-for-13 shooting from the field. He dished out a team-high nine assists and did so while committing just one turnover. He did miss six threes and five three throws, but it was expected that he'd have a little rust after sitting out for so long.
The former Racer also came up in a big way in the closing minutes of the game. Facing a 110-104 deficit with 5:11 remaining in the game, Canaan scored or assisted on four of the Vipers' final six baskets and knocked down six consecutive free throws in the last 18 seconds to seal the deal.
With their victory on Tuesday night, the Vipers are now 24-8 on the season and hold a 3.5 game lead over the Iowa Energy, owners of the next best record. Their next game is on Friday, when they take on the Tulsa 66ers at home.