Albuquerque Thunderbirds 119, Austin Toros 110
This is a tough loss for the Toros, because they didn't play particularly poorly. They made half of their threes, more than half of their field goals overall and outrebounded the T-birds. Free throws were the difference, as Albuquerque shot 34 to Austin's 21. Dwayne Jones was a beast, 23 points and 16 rebounds (eight offensive), which shouldn't be too surprising given that he had Kevin Pittsnogle guarding him for most of the game. Alonzo Gee finished with 16 points, but also turned the ball over five times. Curtis Jerrells put together a solid line, 20 points, seven assists and only one turnover (which didn't come until there was less than a minute left in the game), but he also took (and missed) several shots, with 12, 14, 16 seconds left on the shot clock. And hey, Malik Hairston was in the house! He played well, as you'd imagine, with 23 points on 18 shots; he went 8-9 from the line and added five rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Make sure you pick Hairston in your Virtual Scout game, I have a feeling he'll make an NBA roster one of these days.
For the Thunderbirds, who actually won the game, Yaroslav Korolev played well, which even with it being the D-League still is weird to read and type. He had 22 points on 13 shots, got to the free throw line (8-11), grabbed nine rebounds and blocked four shots. See? Isn't that weird to read? Carlos Powell also played well, with 26 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Keith McLeod made seven of his 13 field goals, including three of his five threes, and handed out 10 assists with only two turnovers. Anthony Agudio shot 5-8 for 13 points. 16 of those free throw attempts came in the fourth quarter and there were some other weird calls on both sides, but this is still a solid win.
The rest of the games await you, after the jump.
Rio Grande Vipers 104, Tulsa 66ers 100
This wasn't the blowout I expected (though it was briefly in the third quarter), but Joey Dorsey did grab 12 board. Unfortunately, he also had eight turnovers and shot 3-9. Mike Harris played well, though, with 30 points on 19 shots and seven rebounds. The Vipers also finally got their three-point shooting on track, making almost 41 percent of their attempts, and they also did an excellent job of sharing the ball; 26 assists on 36 made field goals, which is insane. Nine assists for Antonio Anderson, seven from Jonathan Wallace, the latter of whom also had eight boards and did a good job of getting to the free throw line. Kurt Looby even got some run and grabbed eight rebounds in 19 minutes.
Mustafa Shakur's really good, y'all. 24 points, 10 assists, five rebounds, four steals, and he makes it look pretty easy. Moses Ehambe had his shot going early but then struggled a bit, and overall the 66ers made a better percentage of their threes than RGV did. They also made a better percentage of their free throws (roughly 74-66) and had about as many assists as a team (23 on 35 made field goals). That third quarter is what did them in, and there was a parade of blown layups and turnovers. Really, I count nine missed layups. The big men in particular had a hard time hitting shots, with Byron Mullens going 9-21 and DeVon Hardin shooting 2-8. Keith Clark finished 3-5, but both of his missed came on blown layups towards the end of the third. All three of those guys help put the "development" in the D-League, but this could be a frustrating year for Tulsa fans.
Sioux Falls Skyforce 110, Erie BayHawks 101
Erie managed to make 52.5 percent of its field goals and still lost. Part of that was the foul shot disparity (Sioux Falls shot 42 to Erie's 23), and part of it was rebounding. The Skyforce were able to grab 18 offensive boards, including six from Greg Stiemsma. I still don't think Stiemsma is any great shakes offensively (he shot just 3-10), but the 16 rebounds and six blocks were nice work. Reggie Williams was back to his brilliant scoring self,with 35 points on 21 shots along with five rebounds and three steals, and he really was the biggest recipient of those free throws with 14 attempts. Leemire Goldwire finished with decent numbers, 21 points on 7-13 shooting, even though he was 0-5 on threes. Again, free throw shooting helps.
Erie had some guys play pretty well, like Cedric Jackson who had 15 points, nine assists and seven rebounds off the bench, and Jackie Manuel who finished with 20 points on 8-13 shooting. They had some guys play okay, like Alade Aminu who had 16 points but only four rebounds in over 33 minutes, and John Bryant who needed 12 shots to score 12 points but who grabbed 14 rebounds. Then there was Donell Taylor, who was awful. 9-23 shooting, he missed all of his free throws, more turnovers (four) than assists (three), poor defense, and four of Stiemsma's blocks came out of his hands. Dreadful game.
Maine Red Claws 102, Springfield Armor 79
Those 102 points came in just over 94 possessions, excellent work. Of course, having a 41-15 free throw advantage will do that. I didn't catch this game, so I don't know if this was NBA veteran "savvy" or referee-derived, but Maine had better have won with those kinds of numbers, especially on a night they went 1-8 from the outside. Or heck, on any night, no especially about it. I mean, Anthony Terrell played less than three minutes and got four free throw attempts. Mario West played well off the bench with 19 points and 7-7 free throw shooting, and while Alexis Ajinca didn't have the best night offensively (1-7), he grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked five shots.
Fouls aside, Springfield's problem in this one comes down to rebounding. Only 30 total rebounds when all 10 guys played, and no one had more than five (congrats, Kentrell Gransberry); Maine had five players with five or more boards. JamesOn Curry actually shot the ball pretty well, 10-19 from the field on the way to 26 points, but he had just three assists (again, congrats to KG for leading the team with five). No one else really got going, and no one for the Armor could collect the misses. Their total rebounding number was eclipsed by Maine's 36 defensive boards. NBA-quality opponents or no, that's never going to earn a win. Oh, and backup center Major Wingate fouled out in just under 18 and a half minutes. Whee.
Reno Bighorns 101, LA D-Fenders 79
Reno had a weird first quarter. After jumping out to an 11-2 lead behind Marcus Hubbard and Russell Robinson they missed a bunch of shots and faced a nine point deficit at the end of the first quarter. At one point they had missed nine field goals in a row, a stretch that also saw multiple turnovers and Cezary Trybanski miss a pair of free throws. They got back on track once the second quarter started, and they never trailed after four minutes were left in the half. Rod Benson led the way again with 17 points on 8-11 shooting, 10 rebounds and four steals, plus some very good defense on Michael Fey. Backup center Trybanski also played well (aside from those free throws) with 10 points on four shots, six rebounds and an astounding nine blocks. He looked a lot more comfortable on the court when he didn't have to keep up with Idaho's big men. Dave Noel was another steadying presence off the bench with 10 points on 4-6 shooting. Russell Robinson had finished with 10 assists and 10 points, but needed 12 shots to get there. Desmon Farmer had 18 points and nine assists, but he turned the ball over way too much once again with eight. Marcus Hubbard had 16 points, eight rebounds and three blocks, but he started falling back into his old habits of hanging around the perimeter and taking some bad shots. I won't say that Reno got lucky for this win, but Farmer's turnovers and Hubbard's shot selection could be what keeps this team from winning on a lot of nights.
The D-Fenders are an inefficient offensive team, plain and simple. They have multiple guys who need too many shots to rack up the points, guys like Dar Tucker and Deron Washington and Horace Wormely. As a team, LA missed all seven of its three-point attempts, and six of those came from Tucker. Ryan Forehan-Kelly went 0-7 from the field, which is unusual for him. Diamon Simpson had his second straight solid offensive outing with 24 points (along with 13 rebounds); I'm still not sold on his offensive ability, but if he keeps this up I'll have to reconsider. LA will need that offense, too, as long as they have guys taking and missing terrible shots.