Three games last night - one Jon L was at (Reno @ Austin), one was pretty important for both teams (Albuquerque @ Colorado) one just important for Utah (loss at home vs. LA didn't help). So, for my morning write-up, I'm just going to break down Albuquerque-Colorado, as I'm under the assumption that a call-up from this game will be coming up later today.
First, let's get it out of the way - Nick Buchert and Brent Barnaky officiated, it got out of hand, the end. Feel free to email me if you want specifics, D-League officiating fans.
Colorado, seemingly at alll odds now that it seems all but official that this will be their last season, got in foul trouble early and utilized their bench. Lucky for them, their bench is deep. After a tie ball game through three quarters, the 14ers pulled away in the fourth, winning 129-121. This clinched the best record in the D-League this season for the 14ers, giving them homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs. Albuquerque needed to win this game, and the loss of Antonio Meeking and another player to a call-up isn't helping the Thunderbirds playoff hopes.
Let's break the top players down... after the break, of course.
Trey Gilder is the man. He's draft eligible, which might be my favorite part about him. He's also extremely long, athletic and comfortable coming off the bench if needed. Tonight, he was needed off the bench. After early foul trouble in the front court, Gilder was called upon to come up big. Come up big he did, scoring 32 points and grabbing 12 boards in 31 minutes, making 13-of-19 shot's from the field.
The surprise on the other teams bench came from Mark Walters, a 6'3" guard out of New Mexico I've never heard of, probably because he was averaging 4.8 points and 2.4 boards after this game. Regardless, he started this game, and he started it out hot, scoring 11 points before half time, five boards in the first five minutes of the game. In the end, Walters finished with 15 points, 10 boards and three steals, not turning the ball over once.
Billy Thomas was huge for the 14ers, in part because he was one of the few to escape the wrath of foul trouble exuded on the 14er's starters. Text of the night: "Who would have guessed that with 1 minute left in third Colorados starters would have only 40 points 25 of which are from Billy Thomas and they are only down 2". He was valuable. Thomas finished with 27 points and little else, but without him, Colorado would have been in trouble.
Antoine Agudio did what he does. Nothing particularly impressive, besides his scoring abilities. I'm not sure what Coach John Coffino's thought process was moving him to the bench the past two games rather than Walters, but the former Hoftstra guard was still impressive, making 5-of-8 from downtown to finish with 21 points.
John Lucas played well off the bench, subbing in for Eddie Gill, who battled foul trouble all game long. In 30 minutes off the bench for little Luke, he was able to keep the offense going, finishing with 18 points and five assists, including 3-of-6 from beyond the arc. I've been impressed with him since he arrived in the D-League.
Will Conroy nearly had a triple-double! He finished just one turnover and three assists shy! His attitude was great! From the play-by-play: three bad passes, one travel in first quarter; two bad passes in second quarter; lost ball and travelling violation in the third quarter; backcourt violation in the fourth quarter, when his team was down four with 2:12 left to play. That's nine turnovers. I'm told he had a great attitude through all of this however, and finished with 31 points and just two less assists than turnovers, so call him up, NBA.
Quickies: Josh Davis struggled from the field (5-21), but finished with 18 points and 12 boards. Jasper Johnson didn't do anything impressive except draw a foul on a fadeaway jumper, finishing with 18 points and 11 boards. Mo Saer Sene had six blocks and three goaltends (definitely could've easily been reversed), to go along with 10 points and 12 boards. Keith McLeod finished with 18 points on 4-for-13 shooting from the field, but didn't contribute much else.