The Fort Wayne/Sioux Falls game was on Versus last night. It may not have been a live game, and broadcast may even have been delayed an hour due to bull riding (no, really, bull riding), but there it was, on cable TV. I could get used to this.
Fort Wayne Mad Ants 103, Sioux Falls Skyforce 97 (Box Score)
- I'd thank everyone who showed up for the live blog of this game, but no one did, so thanks to anyone who may have read my in-game Tweeting.
- Rob Kurz didn't shoot the ball particularly well, but holy cats did he have a great game. 21 points, 24 rebounds and three blocks. 14 of those rebounds came on the offensive end, largely because no one for the Skyforce (okay, no one meaning Raymond Sykes) thought to box out in the second half. Kurz did a great job taking advantage of that and ran to the front of the rim when one of his teammates shot the ball, either for putbacks or just to keep the ball alive for his team. The Mad Ants didn't always convert, but it really got embarrassing after awhile.
- The Skyforce fell behind early but were able to come back to within one at the half, in large measure because Reggie Williams is, uh, good. And because Rod Wilmont couldn't guard him. Williams finished with respectable numbers - 23 points, eight rebounds and four assists - but he disappeared in the the second half (particularly the fourth quarter), probably because he's played a combined 90 minutes the last two days. He looked exhausted by the end of this one, and he shot just 1-7 on threes.
- It's been somewhat of a running joke that I don't care for Oliver Lafayette's game, and while that's true based on last year's performance, the Fort Wayne offense ran much better with him in charge than with Kyle McAlarney handling the ball (or as play-by-play guy Peter Young repeatedly called him, McAloney). Lafayette didn't have a great game himself (16 points on 20 shots), but I can kind of see why he's the starter now. Kind of.
- Sean Sonderleiter took a couple of ill-advised shots, but overall he played pretty well. He even made a few mid-range jumpers and drove to the basket with some success, and he helped get Greg Stiemsma in foul trouble.
- Speaking of Stiemsma, the Skyforce really need him in the middle. I've already mentioned Sykes's lack of boxing out but he also doesn't do much on offense other than dunk, and Keith Brumbaugh decidedly isn't a center. Stiemsma got about 21 minutes in this one, fouling out late in the fourth quarter, and he had almost as many fouls+turnovers (11) as he did points+rebounds (12). That said, he's a strong defensive presence down low and I'm confident that Kurz wouldn't have been able to do so much damage on the glass if Stiemsma was able to stay on the court.
- I'm really happy to see the D-League on "regular-ass cable," as I've called it, but next time please don't make it the second night of a back to back for both teams. You could tell a lot of these guys were tired, shooting poorly and making mental mistakes. Just something to think about.
The other, non-televised games are after the jump.
Springfield Armor 100, Maine Red Claws 96 (Box Score)
- Alexis Ajinca didn't play in this one, but I'm not sure if he's hurt or on his way back to Charlotte (the D-League recap helpfully just said he didn't play), and as a result the Red Claws pretty much got dominated on the boards. Noel Felix had your team-high with six, and they grabbed just 26 as a team (compared to 42 for the Armor). Trey Gilder really should've stepped up in this area, but he had just five.
- Whatever the opposite of a "tear" is, Billy Thomas continues to be on it. He hasn't hit a three-pointer in his last six games, which is a bit problematic since he's a three-point shooter.
- In the immortal words of Scott Schroeder, Tony Bobbitt is "not terrible," and he showed it last night by scoring 31 points on 16 shots, and being the only Red Claw who felt like hitting a three-pointer. He didn't contribute a whole lot else, but still a solid game from him.
- Morris Almond was Morris Almond, which is to say, good. 31 points on 18 shots, and he even grabbed seven rebounds.
- You know, I've wondered what happened to Marcus Campbell, and he's been playing pretty solidly for the past few weeks. Campbell had 14 points and 11 boards, and generally helped Springfield take advantage of Ajinca's absence.
- Four of Maine's last five games have been against the Armor, and Springfield's last four games have come against the Red Claws. They play each other again on Thursday. I think I speak for everyone when I say, enough already.
Reno Bighorns 129, Idaho Stampede 116 (Box Score)
- The Stampede still have a lot of talent, even with Sundiata Gaines and Anthony Tolliver called up and Lanny Smith out with injury, but they've had a lot of roster turnover lately so it might take a game or two for everyone to gel.
- Case in point: who's the point guard now? Patty Mills, I guess, though he's really more of a scorer than a distributor. They're also currently missing the facilitating big man. Coby Karl is a pretty good passer and ball-handler, he just didn't do it last night, and the team as a whole had just 15 assists on 38 made field goals. So while Mills and Karl combined for 67 points, the offense wasn't running as smoothly as it could.
- And actually, the Bighorns had the same kind of ball-distribution problems as Idaho. 19 assists on 45 made field goals, and even though Russell Robinson is back in the starting lineup he had just one assist in 34 and a half minutes.
- Desmon Farmer had 41 points on 26 shots. Usually when Reno has so few assists and Farmer takes 12 more shots than any teammate I'd say the Bighorns are having problems, but I guess they were just lucky to play an Idaho team in flux.
- Cezary Trybanski had 18 points and nine boards on 5-5 shooting from the field and 8-10 from the foul line. He seems to show up maybe once a week, but when he does he shows up.
- Lance Allred struggled, with eight points on 13 shots and just five rebounds, but I think he can play something like the Joe Dabbert role in MacKinnon's offense, only, you know, a lot better than Dabbert.
Los Angeles D-Fenders 103, Bakersfield Jam 96 (Box Score)
- Frank Robinson has played really well for the D-Fenders since moving into the starting lineup. Robinson has gotten a few training camp invites with the Atlanta Hawks, and in a backcourt that has seen several different players cycled through, maybe the D-Fenders have finally found their guy.
- Blake Ahearn was definitely looking to shoot, with nine attempts in 22 minutes, eight of which came from outside. He only made three of them. I guess he's still getting his rhythm back. They need him to get up to speed quickly, because after a promising start, John Williams has fallen off a bit. He's not quite into Billy Thomas territory, but it's close.
- Deron Washington has his faults, among them inefficient shooting which LA had a lot of, but Tulsa definitely got the best of that trade. Keith Clark is there for his rebounding (it's certainly not his offense), but he's been rebounding really poorly this year. Washington has been okay but not great for the 66ers, but I'm not sure Clark has even been okay.
- I think it's pretty clear at this point that Michael Fey needs a lot more work. He let Brian Butch get 31 points on 15 shots and 12 rebounds, and while Butch is pretty solid he also had been struggling the last several games. I liked Fey in the beginning of the season, but...no.
Erie BayHawks 97, Tulsa 66ers 91 (Box Score)
- These two teams played pretty evenly for most of this game, except for the first quarter when no one for Tulsa other than Mustafa Shakur and Chris Richard seemed able to score.
- I actually don't have a lot else interesting to say about this game. Larry Owens somehow ended up as his team's leading rebounder despite having an awful game otherwise. Shakur and Zabian Dowdell were the only 66ers to get any assists (they combined for nine). Alade Aminu got his third straight double-double. Latavious Williams had five rebounds in under 15 minutes. You know how it goes.