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Last Night in the D-League; The Thunderbirds Are...Winning?

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Kevin Pittsnogle and the Thunderbirds have won five straight.
Kevin Pittsnogle and the Thunderbirds have won five straight.

Albuquerque Thunderbirds 95, Utah Flash 93 (Box Score)

  • The T-birds have now won five straight, and they did so while playing only seven guys and getting five points and four rebounds (and five blocks) from Kurt Looby and 3-10 outside shooting from Kevin Pittsnogle.  Huh.
  • Carlos Powell didn't have the best game, either.  He needed 16 shots to get 13 points, plus he fouled Dontell Jefferson to put the Flash within two towards the end of regulation, then turned the ball over after the game had been tied up, necessitating the overtime.  Where he shot 1-3.  Come on, man, we're trying to get you a call-up here.
  • Turnovers and missed free throws really killed Utah here, as they actually shot the ball better (not on threes, but overall) and grabbed 11 more rebounds than Albuquerque.  But shooting 59 percent from the foul line is bad.  I know that's a controversial position, but I'm sticking with it.

Hit the jump for the other games.

Rio Grande Valley Vipers 122, Iowa Energy 104 (Box Score)

  • This Iowa team has a lot of talent, but when they're not hitting three-pointers there's not a whole lot else they can go with.
  • Mike Harris just got back from the NBA, and is showing why he should go back, and soon.  29 points on 15 shots, 10 boards, 2-3 shooting from outside, and all in 29 and a half minutes.
  • Othyus Jeffers just got back from Europe, and showed why he should go to the NBA, and soon.  21 points on 12 shots, and he got to the free throw line with some regularity.  If he keeps it up a 10-day contract may be in his future.
  • Curtis Stinson fouled Will Conroy when the latter was going up for a layup early in the fourth, and the two players ended up jawing a bit and got hit with double technicals.  Fun.

Dakota Wizards 122, Sioux Falls Skyforce 97 (Box Score)

  • I probably give Romel Beck the hardest time out of all of the more well-known D-League bloggers out there (though it's debatable how well known I am), but he really is a fantastic offensive player.  He only missed four shots last night, and was perfect both from behind the arc and at the foul line.  Those misses came on jumpers, but he was getting into the lane all night and hitting layups, and it's to his credit that he was aggressive that way rather than just hanging around outside and shooting fadeaways like he sometimes does.
  • Of course, while Greg Stiemsma was back for the Skyforce, he was limited, and without him out there the team doesn't have much of an interior defensive presence.  When Connor Atchley gets the game high in rebounds...yeah, you need to work on that.
  • Reggie Williams had a pretty quiet night.  16 points, four assists, three rebounds, four turnovers.  The guy carries so much of Sioux Falls's offense that he's bound to falter occasionally, I guess, but he also wasn't attempting nearly as many shots as he usually does.

Erie BayHawks 100, Fort Wayne Mad Ants 70 (Box Score)

  • So right after we (at least Scott anyway, though I agree) say that Erie just isn't very good, they go out and win by 30.  This had as much or more to do with Fort Wayne (who scored just 10 points in the second quarter and 16 in the fourth), but still, good for them.
  • The starting lineup Erie put out there, Jackson-Gansey-Manuel-Aminu-Bryant, is the way to go, I think.  You could maybe substitute in Harris for Manuel, though Harris hasn't been shooting nearly as well as he did last season so even with Manuel's erratic-ness this probably works best.
  • It was bound to happen.  After racking up 71 assists in the previous seven games (seriously, look it up), Oliver Lafayette shot 1-8 and had just four assists.  This is the kind of performance that I'm more comfortable with.  All is right with the universe once more.
  • I have no idea why Ryan Ayers is still in the starting lineup for the Mad Ants.  For his three-point shooting, I guess, since he's making almost 38 percent of his threes.  But he he hasn't scored more than eight points since December 19.  I'm curious to see how the team would do with Rod Wilmont starting alongside Lafayette; he's a bit more erratic, but the highs are higher.