The Rio Grande Valley Vipers thrive in fast-paced atmospheres, pressuring their opponents into playing a kind of basketball that they aren't necessarily accustomed to. On Wednesday night, that's exactly what Nevada Smith's squad did in their 128-113 victory over the Maine Red Claws.
The No. 1 ranked offense in points per game ran their usual run-and-gun style of play, but held just a one-point lead at halftime. It wasn't until the third quarter when the Vipers broke through, exploding for 42 points and taking the 99-84 lead into the final quarter of regulation.
Vipers' forward Dario Hunt helped his team get there. "Dario was huge," Coach Smith said after the win. "He had a great game."
He certainly did. The University of Nevada product led all scorers with 27 points, shooting 12-of-17 from the field, connecting on all three of his three-point attempts while grabbing down eight rebounds, producing two steals and blocking two shots. Following his four-year collegiate career, Hunt, 24, spent one season playing overseas before returning to the States, where the Vipers selected him as the No. 16 overall pick in the 2013 D-League Draft.
Hunt's teammate, (Rockets' assignee Robert Covington) recorded a double-double in his team's victory, dropping 26 points while grabbing down 14 boards. The 23-year-old wasn't selected in last June's NBA Draft, but signed a multi-year deal with Houston in July. The forward's been back-and-forth between the Rockets and Vipers, but has thrived in the D-League. In 32 games, Covington has averaged 23 points - fifth in the league - and 9.4 rebounds per contest.
The Red Claws received two double-doubles from Daniel Orton and Sherwood Brown. Orton scored 26 points and added 16 rebounds while Brown tallied 16 points and produced 12 boards. Guard Frank Gaines contributed 25 points.
Below are highlights from the game: