I attended the best game at the Bismarck Civic Center in nearly two years yesterday as the Dakota Wizards beat the Iowa Energy 123-116 in overtime. With an announced attendance of 4,351, I have to assume it was the best crowd since the last overtime game in Dakota that I remember, the 06-07 D-League Championship game.
Here are my random observations...
- Maurice Baker is clutch. Talked to my dad at halftime, who asked me why Baker yells at his other teammates all the time even when he's not playing well himself. My response: Mo's a good player, he's usually able to turn it on when he needs. Granted, he is starting to look a little bit more like a ball hog, but it's okay when he puts up stat lines like he did yesterday. In nearly 50 minutes, Baker had 30 points, 13 boards, and five assists, with 14 of his 30 points coming in the fourth quarter. Impressive, late.
- Othyus Jeffers can play defense. He was given the task of defending Blake Ahearn, and he did this phenomenally. Everytime Ahearn would touch the ball, Jeffers was in his grill. Ahearn had the quietest 19 points of his career, getting up just 10 shots in 40 minutes. Last time Ahearn only shot 10 times in a game: January 31st.
- Nick Nurse is not nice. I've never heard a coach complain as much as he did this game. After the game, the officials had to ask security to get him out of their face, which took Nurse's wrath to the scorers table. Not sure one could be mad at the scorers table, but he was. His least favorite official is now Karl Lane, FYI. If a team is outrebounded, commits more turnovers, and shoots worse from the field, I'm under the assumption that the officials aren't to blame.
- Courtney Sims might have an attitude problem. He did this game. After a foul was called in overtime with 1:21 left on the clock, Sims jerked out his mouthguard, threw it under the tables, and got T'd up to boot. It also looked like he had just picked up his sixth foul. Seconds later, the foul was attributed to Denham Brown, so Sims acted like he did for no reason. Interestingly enough, Iowa never scored again after this foul.
- Scott Woodmansee, Wizards PA announcer, is a genius. Favorite call of the night: "Ahearn from the concession stand!" Clutch. Also, when Curtis Stinson and Sims fouled out, he plays "Apologize" sung by Timbaland One Republic. Most awkward song frequently played to hype the crowd up at a basketball game? We will get to that soon enough.
- Hamed Haddadi reminds me of another former Wizard: Leonardo di Pacce dos Santos, AKA Morro. Reason being, Haddadi may as well stay on the defensive end at all times. Offensively, he's a huge liability, which scares me considering he's an NBA player with the Grizzlies. Have never seen a guy with worse hands than him. He doesn't have a back to the basket game, and you'll notice that his offensive rebounding numbers are always very close to his number of missed shots. 3-for-7, four rebounds. See the correlation? On defense, however, he is a stud. Very foul prone, but comes up with clutch blocks, as he swatted a Sims shot with :24 seconds to go that would have given Iowa the game. For that, I will award him best Iranian to ever play in the NBA or D-League. Ever. Hands down. This is non-negotiable.
- Curtis Stinson fills up the box score quieter than anyone. It's absurd. In this game, he had 21 points, 14 boards, and eight assists before fouling out. He's just one of the former Wizards that almost came back to haunt them.
- The other: Denham Brown. Brown, who the Wizards released due to "salary cap and roster concerns" according to the program, was lights out. 20 points in 31 minutes off the bench. If a team needs to release a player due to salary concerns, I think salaries should become public knowledge.
- Richard Hendrix is easily the best dressed player in the D-League. Call him up, he'll at least make your bench look fashionable. Tonight, he was out with a strained calf.
- My new mission will be to get salaries published and to disallow any team to release a player "due to personal reasons" or "injury". Gerry McNamara, Billy Thomas, and Ryan Humphrey were all recently released due to personal reasons, which I'm under the assumption means McNamara missed Damone Brown and Thomas was released due to feeling too good for the D-League. Humphrey -- No clue. Derrick Dial was released due to injury March 7th, but in the March 8th game, he played. Interesting? YES! Does it make any sense whatsoever? NO.
- With twelve seconds left in overtime, the crowd started the alligator clap, which is traditionally done to signal the end of the game as Woodmansee hits the song Cecelia by Simon and Garfunkel. With a Wizard at the line, however, the music couldn't be played. The crowd didn't care, as 4,000 people were standing, doing the alligator clap. Easily the coolest thing I've ever seen at a Wizards game, and I once saw Keith Closs, full uniform, smoking cigarettes outside before the game.
- This rivalry is getting large. Almost reminds me of way back when, in the IBA, when Dakota would play the Des Moines Dragons. bluejayrock wishes it was back to those days, I think.