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Game 1 D-League Finals Recap: Colorado 136, Utah 131 (OT)

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This game started out looking like the story would be Colorado's domination of the Flash.  The 14ers raced out to a 13 point first quarter lead and had 71 points at halftime.  Soon after halftime, Ronald Dupree took over for Utah, allowing them to claw back and even take the lead momentarily in the fourth.  Once the game hit overtime, though, Colorado eventually remembered how to execute, making their final three field goal attempts, and Kevin Kruger had two of his four turnovers as the 14ers pulled out the victory.

I have to chalk this up to the Flash being forced to run with Colorado.  They had a lot of points to make up, and coach Brad Jones decided to go small in the wake of Brian Jackson's foul trouble (he fouled out in 19 and a half minutes of playing time), going with a combination of Carlos Wheeler and Bennet Davis at the pivot.  While James Lang's three minutes of playing time weren't great, going small just fed into Colorado's game plan.  Utah also didn't go to Dupree nearly as much as they could have in overtime, letting Kruger dribble down the clock on too many possessions.

Billy Thomas, that key player to watch I mentioned yesterday?  He had it going on a la Stacy's Mom early, hitting all three three-pointers he shot in the first quarter.  Thomas finished with 27 points on 18 shots for the night, along with pulling in seven rebounds, which, believe it or not, is only one off of his season-high.  Thomas also had a key steal guarding Kruger late in the game.  A really solid night overall, even though he disappeared for a stretch that amounted to about a full quarter of play.

Josh Davis had a solid game, as you'd expect, with 25 points on 15 shots and eight rebounds, while being active on screens.  When I say he was active on screens though, I mean he kept moving his feet.  Sonny Weems was quietly great off the bench with 28 points on 13 shots, shooting 11-12 from the free throw line.  John Lucas III didn't put up great stats, but he had some solid defense against Kevin Kruger.  Trey Gilder was good in limited minutes in the second quarter, but given how good he was I wonder why those minutes were limited.

Ronald Dupree did everything he could to win this game for his team, he really did.  37 points on 19 shots, and as we remarked in the OSLB, it was probably the quietest 37 points you'll ever see.  He was all over the place in the second half, hitting jumpers, making layups and getting to the line.  There was a three and a half minute stretch in the third quarter where no other Flash player scored, and Dupree had eight points.  A great game that, unfortunately for him, came in a losing effort.

JR Giddens also played well for long stretches of the game, and finished with 21 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks.  Carlos Wheeler was solid defensively, and finished with 11 points and seven rebounds, while Mo Almond had 18 points (10 of those coming from the free throw line), though he missed all of his three-point attempts.

A quarter-by-quarter breakdown after the jump!

First Quarter

As mentioned above, this was pretty much all Colorado, and specifically all Billy Thomas and Josh Davis, who finished the quarter with a combined 27 of their team's 32 points.  There were two stretches of about two and a half minutes each without any Utah baskets.  The Flash did get seven layups/dunks, though.

Second Quarter

More Colorado, as the 14ers were up by 25 at one point after some good work by Trey Gilder and Kentrell "KG" Gransberry.  The Flash started getting into the game with about four minutes left in the half, though, due to lots and lots of free throws.  I didn't mention above so I'll mention it here: for such a fast-paced game (110 possessions, which is on the high side even for an overtime game), there were a lot of fouls called.  62 total (three technicals).  Utah took six trips to the free throw line in the last three and a half minutes of the second quarter, which allowed them to pull within 17 (Scott's note - UGH!).

Third Quarter

It's too bad Third Quarter Collapse is already taken, because that's exactly what happened to the 14ers, so let's call it the Great Utah Comeback.  Whatever it was, it officially began, oddly enough, with a jumper from Brian Jackson two minutes into the quarter.  The Flash would score 26 points in the next ten minutes, a lot of that coming from Dupree.  It didn't hurt that Sonny Weems was seemingly the only player for Colorado who could score, with 12 of the team's 23 third quarter points, but seven of those non-Weems points came in the first two minutes of the quarter.  Billy Thomas hit a jumper with four minutes left in the third, and wouldn't score again until four and a half minutes remained in the...

Fourth Quarter

Utah continued their upward climb, getting some nice contributions from Gavin Grant, and Colorado never really woke up enough to take firm control of the game.  Only 21 points in the fourth for the 14ers, exactly half of what they scored in the second.  I should mention that Dupree and Giddens each put forth good effort here, but it really was largely a matter of Colorado's poor execution.  The 14ers had six turnovers in the fourth, in just about every way imaginable - bad passes, travelling, shot clock violations, offensive fouls (including those moving screens), you name it.  Utah briefly took the lead with just over a minute to go, but Eddie Gill was fouled and made one of his two free throws to tie it up, sending the game into...


Both teams were pretty fatigued at this point.  Utah kept getting inside, as all of their points in the extra frame came from either layups, putbacks or free throws.  Colorado was able to wrest control halfway through the period, and made their last three field goals along with a pair of Lucas free throws to ice the game.