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Last Night in the D-League; There Are NBA Players, And There Are NBA Players

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This guy, right here...this is the guy.
This guy, right here...this is the guy.

First off, Happy New Year.  I hope everyone enjoyed themselves last night.  I myself watched this.  There were some D-League games last night, so I guess we should talk about them, huh?

Maine Red Claws 95, Iowa Energy 88 (Box Score)

  • This game...ugh.  There were some exceedingly ugly stretches, on both sides.  We're talking no one scoring a point for over five minutes ugly.  I hated watching it.  You're welcome.
  • There were two NBA assignees in this game, one on each side, and they were both terrible.  Taylor Griffin shot 2-11 from the field and 1-4 from the free-throw line, and had defensive problems.  Alexis Ajinca finished with nice-looking numbers, 16 points and nine rebounds, although he also turned the ball over six times and Maine as a team was absolutely awful with him on the floor.  I can't quite put my finger on what it was, but most of their scoreless stretches and Iowa's runs seemed to coincide with Ajinca being out there.  If the D-League kept plus/minus stats, I'd estimate Ajinca at least at a minus 20 for this game.
  • Darnell Lazare and Noel Felix, on the other hand, did very well for Maine while they were on the floor.  Trey Gilder, too.  Aside from Griffin and Earl Barron, the Energy don't really have anyone over 6'5", and the Red Claws' big forwards were able to take advantage of that.
  • Scott said he wasn't sure what it was about Gilder that he liked so much, but the guy keeps working.  Even though he started shooting 0-4 he kept hitting the boards, finishing with 10 rebounds, and he made his last seven field goal attempts.  Not to dredge this up again, but if I had to compare any D-Leaguer to Tayshaun Prince, it probably would be Gilder.  Gilder may not be quite as good of a shooter, though he's okay from three (34 percent career), he plays decent defense, he hustles, he's a good rebounder and he doesn't need to be the focal point of the offense to get buckets.  Oh, and he's super skinny.
  • Jeff Trepagnier was pretty much the only guy for Iowa who was interested in playing for most of this game.  Barron finished with nice numbers (21 and 10), but he disappeared for long stretches.  Trepagnier was contributing consistently.  He took 13 three-pointers, but he hit six of him, and without Trepagnier's contributions the rest of the team was 2-12 from long range.

Hit the jump for the other two games.

Utah Flash 105, Albuquerque Thunderbirds 94 (Box Score)

  • The Flash were outrebounded and they had fewer assists as a team, but they forced 20 turnovers and shot over 60 percent from outside.  Dontell Jefferson was excellent with 27 points on 15 shots, 3-5 on threes and six assists, but I find myself wanting to talk about the Thunderbirds.
  • Here's a news item for you: Carlos Powell is very good.  29 points on 12 shots, a perfect 10-10 from the line (which you may not think is worth mentioning, but this is the D-League), a game-high eight assists and five boards.  (He also had a game-high five turnovers)
  • Kevin Pittsnogle made six of his ten three-pointers, which I guess is good, but he was 1-5 inside the arc, which is decidedly not good.  Believe me, I asked around.
  • Kurt Looby still isn't starting apparently.  He had 10 rebounds off the bench.  Pittsnogle managed four boards in almost 34 minutes.  I don't get it either.

Dakota Wizards 108, Sioux Falls 91 (Box Score)

  • It's always nice when a team can avenge a loss so immediately, especially when it's a blowout.  Mo Baker was particularly tremendous in this one, falling one assist short of a triple-double with 15 points on 5-6 shooting, a game-high 10 rebounds and nine assists.
  • Other than Marcus Dove (14 points on seven shots), the rest of the Wizards weren't particularly efficient.  Connor Atchley needed 15 shots to score 16 points, Curtis Withers needed 12 for 12, Romel Beck needed 12 for 11, et cetera.  That doesn't really matter when you force 21 turnovers, I guess.
  • Greg Steimsma came out of the game about four minutes in due to some sort of leg injury, never to return, and the Skyforce missed him on the boards.  They were only outrebounded by three, but Stiemsma could've helped on the offensive glass, and he also had a pair of blocks (both on Romel Beck).
  • This was a blowout largely because Sioux Falls managed just 10 points in the third quarter.  And while I know I just praised the guy yesterday, that was almost all on Reggie Williams.  Williams missed all four of his field goal attempts and turned the ball over twice and hey, if it's going that way for you, maybe you start passing the ball and getting your teammates involved.  Williams did not.