Greetings, friends! I hope everyone had a good holiday and/or week. I was on the East Coast visiting family (my dad apparently sports one of these mustaches now), but I'm back and ready to once again tackle the D-League, just in time for the Showcase. So many things happened while I was gone and only semi-paying attention. Mike Harris got called up to the NBA, Anthony Tolliver came back from same. Patty Mills and Jared Reiner joined the league, Joe Krabbenhoft departed. I bought a pair of these (they look better in person). But you knew all that already (okay, maybe you didn't know about the shoes). Let's get to the gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaames.
Rio Grande Valley Vipers 114, Austin Toros 112 (Box Score)
- The Vipers jumped out to an early lead and scored a team record 39 points in the first quarter, thanks largely to Garrett Temple, who had 13 of his 20 points in the early frame. Threes, layups, foul shots, whatever - Temple was getting it. He cooled off a bit as the game went on, but a 20-7-5 line is a nice night's work.
- Speaking of nice work, Curtis Jerrells and Alonzo Gee combined for 63 of their team's points, which if you check Austin's total up there, comes out to more than half. I'd particularly like to single out Gee's 28 points, as they came on just 16 shots. Now that's a spicy meatball. He could've had even more, but he missed seven of his 15 free throws. Ouch. He couldn't exactly look to Dwayne Jones for guidance, as the big man was just 2-8 from the line. The good news for Jones is that's his worst foul shot performance this season by far, and he should bounce back.
- Rio Grande Valley's roster is loaded, as you know, but if I had to pick the next guy to get called up (pre-Conroy, let's say), it's probably Antonio Anderson. Billed as a defense-first, rough-on-offense player coming into the league, Anderson has scored in double figures in all but one game this season, and by and large he's been efficient doing it. Anderson was the other big performer for the Vipers last night with 27 points on 11-16 shooting, five assists and four steals. I'm still a little wary, but that probably won't last long.
Bakersfield Jam 96, Fort Wayne Mad Ants 92 (Box Score)
- Ohhhhhhh, so this is what people were talking about with Amara Sy. He didn't exactly have the most auspicious start this season, getting injured and then going after an opponent's...place, but 18 points on 7-10 shooting and 16 rebounds, now that's a spicy meatball. Oh wait, I already used that line.
- This is just the Jam's third win on the season, and it appears that rookie coach Will Voigt is trying all kinds of different lineups to see what will finally work. It appears that Reece Gaines and John Williams have now (at least for this game) been pushed to the bench. Look, I get it. Something has to work eventually, right? There has to be some magical combination of players on the court that doesn't get you blown out by 20 points. Who knows, maybe they just found it. But you know what athletes like? Consistent roles and expectations. A guy who averages 35 minutes a game for a week then drops down to 17 minutes then goes back up to 28 minutes isn't going to give you a consistent performance because he has no idea what, exactly, he's supposed to do. Be the spark off the bench? The steadying presence who can ease into the flow of the game? Chocolate microscopes? At some point you have to admit that your team isn't very good and just settle on a rotation.
- You'll notice I haven't yet said anything about the Mad Ants in this recap. I'm trying to pretend that Oliver Lafayette a.) starting and b.) getting 10 assists didn't happen. No, seriously, I have no idea what you're talking about. Surely this is some kind of fever dream. I know those words, but that sign makes no sense.
- Rob Kurz reverted to his perimeter-stalking ways (sorry, Scott). Just five rebounds on the night, four of which came in the first quarter.
- I don't know what's gotten into Greg Stiemsma lately (other than maybe a honey-baked ham), but he's been on a minor tear of late. 15 points and 14 boards for him last night along with seven blocks, or as I like to call it, "Cezary Trybanski territory."
- The more I see from Reggie Williams, the more I wonder how he didn't get an NBA look. I know the knocks on him, and they're all valid to a certain extent, but the guy is almost like a shooting guard version of Antawn Jamison, maybe slightly less athletic but more efficient. He's a really creative scorer (like Jamison), and he contributes in a lot of other areas, too (just not defensively, also like Jamison). 21 points, eight rebounds, five assists, three steals. I assume our call-up rankings are resuming at some point, and Williams will be on my list.
- The Wizards had some ball distribution problems, which I can only describe by saying that Romel Beck led the team in assists (five). Yeah