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Last Night in the D-League, Where They're Bringing Back Midnight Basketball

Los Angeles D-Fenders 89, Bakersfield Jam 82

Sports Illustrated writer Arash Markazi was at this game.  And by that I mean he was the only one at the game. Given that this game started at 9:30 pm local time on a Sunday night the lack of a crowd shouldn't be too shocking, but that is a sad, sad picture. Bakersfield managed to score just 30 points by halftime, and there were all kinds of blown layups and bad passes and missed three-pointers. Coach Will Voigt got himself ejected less than a minute into the third quarter, and I can only assume that's what got the Jam going as they outscored LA in the second half. I'm always skeptical that such actions work, but who knows. Justin Hawkins scored 22 and grabbed seven rebounds, but he needed 21 shots. Rodney Webb finished with 16 boards and four blocks, but needed 12 shots to score 10 points. Their best offensive player was probably Reece Gaines, who shot 6-9 and had 14 points, but he also turned the ball over six times, which is even worse than Curtis Jerrells's six turnovers the other night given that the Jam only put up 89 possessions.

The D-Fenders won this game mainly by watching the Jam miss a lot of threes and then just hanging on in the second half. Diamon Simpson put up 11 shots, which is both curious and ill-advised given that the NBA player comparison I've seen most often for him is Dominic McGuire (i.e., pretty good rebounder for his size, absolutely no shot to speak of). Michael Fey wasn't quite as good as he was the other night (of course he didn't have Kevin Pittsnogle "guarding" him again) but was still solid with 14 points and seven rebounds. James Jackson played well off the bench, with 14 points and six rebounds. Dar Tucker reverted to his inefficient shooting ways, but put up a game-high five assists.

Fort Wayne Mad Ants 92, Erie BayHawks 82

Well. Rob Kurz certainly announced his presence in the D-League with 16 points and 19 rebounds.  Ron Howard played well also with 25 points, though it looks like his volume shooting is here to stay.  He's doing a good job of getting to the free throw line, though (10-13 last night), so if he can keep that up he could develop into a genuine two-way threat.  Kyle McAlarney was relegated to the bench but responded well, scoring 22 points on 7-10 shooting (including 4-7 on three-pointers), although he's still not picking up many assists (just two last night).  Sean Sonderleiter struggled, shooting 2-13, and although he grabbed seven rebounds, all five of his offensive boards came off his own misses.

Erie did a better job of distributing the ball, led by Cedric Jackson and Donell Taylor who had seven assists apiece (actually, they were pretty much the only guys who did).  They shot the ball terribly, though, going 4-14 on threes, and three of those were made by Taylor.  John Bryant had another excellent game with 14 points and 14 rebounds, but too many other BayHawks were too inefficient.  Shooting 40 percent on free throws is a bad look.

Dakota Wizards 91, Sioux Falls Skyforce 74

Well, the Wizards certainly didn't come out tired in this one.  Romel Beck looked particularly spry, scoring Dakota's first seven points.  Greg Stiemsma being terrible on offense helped (he missed two layups in the first three minutes).  Beck finished with 24 points on 11 shots though he didn't do a whole lot else, but he never really does anyway.  Mo Baker had a terrible shooting night but picked up eight assists, six rebounds and six steals.  Curtis Withers had another good game with 22 points and 17 rebounds, and he may turn out to be a force for them all season long.

It was the Skyforce who looked a step behind, whether Stiemsma (who had six blocks but that was the only positive for him), Keith Brumbaugh blowing two consecutive layups and a three-pointer in the second quarter or the whole team starting off the second half with two missed shots and three turnovers.  Even Reggie Williams struggled.  The only real bright spots were bench players Raymond Sykes, who had 13 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks and Leemire Goldwire who scored 16, but even those bright spots turned the ball over four times (Sykes) and missed five three-pointers (Goldwire).  Given that it came after three consecutive Skyforce possessions ended in turnovers, I can only imagine that Tony Fritz's technical was a ploy to wake his team up.  They outscored the Wizards in the fourth quarter, but they managed to get only 16 points doing it so he probably should try something else next time.