The D-League saw some good games last night and one downright ugly one. Erie pulled even with Sioux Falls in the fight for the last playoff spot, Dakota lost to make that picture even muddier, and a couple of solid teams played a couple of not-so-solid teams. Full recaps after the jump.
Erie 97, Los Angeles 94
As Scott mentioned, the D-Fenders were without Joe Crawford and SUN YUE, but they sure didn't play like it early on. Ryan Forehan-Kelly was all over the place, hitting threes, getting to the line and even dishing out a few assists. Then the second quarter started, and it was pretty much downhill from there for LA. Forehan-Kelly's shot seemed to disappear, but he still played a pretty good game for a 109-year old man. Earl Barron tried, but he's got to rebound better, especially against a team like Erie.
And that really was the difference, it seems. The Bayhawks were able to get offensive rebounds, and kept, uh, keeping the ball alive until they could either get a tip in or get fouled and shoot free throws. Erik Daniels had 18 and 11 but needed too many shots to get there, and Jarvis Gunter came off the bench to provide a solid 10 points and 13 rebounds in a little over 26 and a half minutes.
Colorado 114, Fort Wayne 105
I watched most of this game, and while it ended up being a fun one, it was really all over the place. Fort Wayne looked tired at the start, but Colorado couldn't take advantage. They were missing shots from all over - threes, layups, you name it. Eventually both teams were able to find the rim, and it turned into a competitive game - for awhile. Colorado took over about midway through the first and was able to use its depth to go up by 25 points late in the 3rd quarter, but the Mad Ants just kept fighting back. If I'd been able to get the (NBA) Wizards feed online I would've stopped watching, but I'm glad I kept with it. Fort Wayne was able to use contributions from Chris Hunter and Ron Howard, along with some Colorado foul trouble and Kentrell Gransberry's lack of any post moves (save for "jumping up towards the basket and hoping to either get fouled or somehow get the ball through the hoop") to get the score within five, but Colorado kept answering with Dominique Coleman and Josh Davis, who after missing his first three-pointer didn't miss another one until about two and a half minutes left in the game. Anthony Kent also had a terrific game for the Mad Ants, scoring a career-high 18 points on 8-10 shooting to go with 10 rebounds
Let's see, what else...Walker Russell Jr. still has a habit of forcing things and turning the ball over in the process. If he's near a sideline, a defender can pretty easily edge him closer and force him to step out of bounds. He also would've had even more assists than he did (9) if guys like Taj McCullough could finish alley-oops. Coleman had a nice defensive play early on when he found himself matched up against Chris Hunter. The Mad Ants fed the ball inside to try to take advantage, but Coleman was able to use his quick hands to swat the ball away before Hunter could shoot. The bottom line in this game was that Colorado can bring guys like Sonny Weems, Trey Gilder and John Lucas off the bench if the starters aren't doing well. Fort Wayne's first guy of the bench was Sean Sonderleiter.
Tulsa 98, Bakersfield 91
My plan was to watch the first half of this game, but I didn't make it past the first quarter. The University of Oklahoma had just finished playing UNC in the NCAA tournament, so there was pretty much no one at this game. That lack of energy made its way to the floor, where any time either team scored it was because of lackadaisical defense or by accident. One typical sequence: Trey Johnson missed a three, but instead of going for the rebound all of Bakersfield's players ran back on defense. That left three 66ers to get the rebound, but they ended up knocking it out of bounds. Then when Bakersfield went to inbound their gift, Johnson stepped on the line and turned it over again. Just ugly.
It looks like Tulsa was in control most of the game, or as in control as possible. Keith Clark pulled in a lot of Bakersfield misses (and there were a lot of misses. DJ White didn't impress me that much the few times I saw him with the ball, as David Berghoefer was able to contain him pretty well, and White put up 8 shots in 10 and a half minutes of play. Gary Ervin did some good work, scoring 17 points on 4-5 shooting and making 9 of his 11 free throws to go along with 7 rebounds. Mateen Cleaves was the only starter for Bakersfield who had more points than shot attempts, finishing with a solid 26 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists.
Albuquerque 105, Dakota 102
Scott already covered this one, so I'll just note the big foul shot disparity. 32 attempts for Albuquerque vs. 13 for Dakota, 8 of which belonged to Renaldo Major. Maybe Scott can shed some light as to whether the Thunderbirds were getting the calls or just getting to the line on their own. I also continue to be confused as to why Brad Stricker starts. Only one field goal attempt in 13 minutes, 1-6 shooting from the line, and that's not an aberration from him.