I'm going to start out this morning by wishing everyone a happy Monday. Of course, it probably won't be too happy of a Monday for the Sioux Falls Skyforce (basically eliminated from playoffs), Iowa Energy (struggling without some Courtney Sims dude) and the Albuquerque Thunderbirds (who lost to Reno along with a lot of their hope to make the playoffs). Everyone else, though, be happy! You're presumably at work, but at least you've got a work place to go to!
Anyway, last night I was at the Sioux Falls-Dakota game, so that's what I'll focus on this morning (More on the rest of the games later). President Reed was also at the game (said hi to me, but looked too busy with real media to talk *sad face*). You weren't there, though, which is disappointing, because it felt like a playoff game. D-League Head of Officials George Toliver wasn't there either, which is even more disappointing, because James Williams and Tre Maddox took over the top spots in worst officials in the D-League (previously: unseen, unranked). Brenda wasn't quite as terrible. Know the officiating is subpar when Coach Tibbetts yelled to Coach Ticknor for three possessions to tell him that they were just trying to even out the fouls for each team (ended 39-31 Sioux Falls, but they fouled a few times toward the end of overtime).
Anyway, back to the game. Attendance was about 3,500, atmosphere decidedly playoffish, and the game had everyone except President Reed standing for the last 15 minutes (I was trying to find a camera but to no avail). Probably one of the more exciting games I've been to in awhile. Continue on for highlights of this game and bits on the others.
Sioux Falls 123 @ DAKOTA 134 (OVERTIME)
Dakota needs to win either Thursday in Iowa (thinking about heading out there as this is essentially for the Central Division championship - Iowan's, who has tickets for me?) or Friday against Anaheim to clinch a playoff spot.
Romel Beck is a stud. Initially I wasn't sold on him, as he's an iso-guy, which doesn't appeal to what I like to watch. Lately though, it's Beck that has kept the Wizards in the games that they're winning. He's so very close to being an NBA talent it's scary. If he was a better decision maker, I think he'd be there. Often times, when he's on the break, he's going to finish it, whether it's 2-on-1 or 4-on-1. Beck had 29 points, shooting 8-of-11 from the field including 4-for-4 from beyond the arc, along with hitting all nine of his free-throw attempts off the bench. With Iowa starting Demetris Nichols at center last night, it might not be a bad idea for Dakota to go small and start Beck on Thursday.
Kasib Powell probably played better than Beck, but since Dakota got the win, had to feature Beck. I said a few different times that Dakota was defending him well (double teamming him when he put the ball on the floor), yet he still managed 34 points, nine boards and three steals with just one turnover. Hadn't watched him healthy this season, but wow NBA, he's healthy now. He probably would've went for 50 if he wasn't double-teamed so consistently.
Renaldo Major is the glue guy for Dakota, playing solid defense and being an energy guy this season while battling injury. Could still tell he was hurt a bit, but he came up with multiple big plays when needed - four points in the last seven seconds (though missed a big free-throw that could have won it in regulation) and an and-one right after Sioux Falls tied it up for the first time in awhile in the third. Major finished the game with 24 points, 12 boards and five assists.
Frank Williams had the worst game I've ever seen in which a player scored 27 points and had eight assists. Yuck. Missed lots of open looks. Lots. He also had seven turnovers and didn't play a lick of defense. Just disappointing. On the night, he went 7-for-25 from the field (2-for-9 from 3). That hurts. Ugh.
Venard "Richard" Hendrix had a subpar night from the field (just 3-for-9), but made up for it with big boards, big blocks and big free-throws (11-for-15, 60% with Dakota). He's never really been one to take over on the court, and he wasn't all that noticeable this night either, but some of that has to do with having to miss about 10 minutes of gametime after an inadvertent offensive foul from Bobby Jones (dirtiest player in the D-League - that I see). Hendrix finished with 17 points, 16 boards and four blocked shots.
Alexis Ajinca, the 7' monster from France and the Charlotte Bobcats, played a decent game, but made the worst decision of the game. After a Major layup, Ajinca took the ball out (but wasn't supposed to) and threw a Brett Favre bomb down the court. Fortunately for the Wizards, Mo Baker did his best Charles Woodson impression, picking off the pass and calling an immediate timeout, which led to the eventual game-tying basket. Ajinca is a shot altering machine, but finished with just one block to go with 10 points and 11 boards.
Maurice Baker didn't play a big role for the Wizards - until overtime. Baker, who is averaging an astounding 16.2 points, 6.9 boards and 5.4 assists per game, hasn't had so much as a sniff from the NBA this season, but is playing well for the Wizards, doing what a veteran point guard should do (think a younger, slightly smaller Randy Livingston, minus the yearly call-up and awkward shaped head). Baker had seven of his 15 points in overtime along with adding eight assists and four boards in the big victory.