Week two of the D-League on Versus, and while both teams played pretty well (for three quarters, anyway), yet again we got two teams on the second night of a back to back. Next time could we maybe get teams that are rested up, maybe? (Scott's Note: NOPE. Bakersfield vs. Idaho next week on a back-to-back. Awesome?) Also, some other games happened. I'm going to focus more on the televised contest and give you just the notable performances from the others, with some highlights. Cool? Cool.
Iowa Energy 120, Fort Wayne Mad Ants 97 (Box Score)
- Overall, the Energy were very aggressive defensively, and it paid off pretty much all game long. There were a few times when someone like Curtis Stinson would gamble for a steal and not get it, but the Mad Ants didn't always take advantage. Iowa got 15 steals as a team and forced 22 turnovers overall. They turned the ball over 23 times themselves, but that was more due to sloppy play on their part (Stinson had nine turnovers) than anything Fort Wayne did. In fact, Fort Wayne's perimeter defense was...lacking. Oliver Lafayette kept leaving his man, Rob Kurz couldn't guard Othyus Jeffers outside, the team as a whole didn't rotate particularly well, you get the idea.
- Othyus Jeffers, who is 6'5", started at power forward for the Energy, matching up with 6'9" Rob Kurz. The Mad Ants took advantage early, giving the ball to Kurz on the block where he could (and did) use that height advantage, but overall Jeffers might've been the player of the game. He played his usual excellent perimeter defense and played some point guard. Even as a shooting guard matching up against bigger guys, he grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds along with his 14 points. Both the Bulls and Bucks had some people in attendance (and possibly other teams that I'm unaware of), so hopefully he's back on some radars.
- Rob Kurz also played pretty well, with 23 points on 13 shots and 10 boards. He hit a couple of outside shots per usual but also did some nice work inside, whether matched up against the shorter Jeffers or a taller guy like Earl Barron.
- And speaking of Barron, he kind of disappeared as this game went on. Part of that likely came from Courtney Sims gradually getting more time as he gets back into game shape, but Barron also shot just 2-7.
- You'll notice I haven't mentioned NBA assignee Joe Alexander yet. Alexander had one or two okay moves inside and had some nice interior passing, but overall he might as well not have been out there. He's still working his way back from injury, of course, but he looked a bit hesitant and didn't always seem particularly interested.
- Courtney Sims had a bit of a slow start but warmed up as the game went along, and finished with 17 points on 7-9 shooting and nine rebounds. Iowa's already one of the two or three best teams in the league (if not the best - they are record-wise, but you know what I'm getting at), but once Sims works his way completely back into game shape they're going to be insanely dangerous.
- Ryan Ayers hit five of seven threes, all of them from the left corner. His misses too. Basically, he's the Bruce Bowen of this team, only with (Scott's Note: much) worse defense. Just run to the corner and shoot when open. The one time he tried to put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket, he a.) missed the layup, and b.) twisted his ankle, or something (he was fine).
- Jamelle Cornley is a 6'5" power forward (a real one) out of Penn State, and while his relative lack of height causes some problems (he had zero rebounds in 15 minutes), he's very effective backing his man down into the paint and putting it in off the glass.
Hit the jump for some brief notes from the rest of the night's action.
Albuquerque Thunderbirds 109, Idaho Stampede 108 (Box Score)
Austin Toros 114, Springfield Armor 107 (Box Score) (Highlights)
- One point Kevin Pelton made when working on D-League stats translations was that D-League players don't get very many calls or trips to the free throw line in the NBA. Fair enough, thats pretty intuitive. But, Morris Almond is great at getting to the foul line in the D-League. Great. This was his second straight game with 17 foul shots. He's a great scorer and worth a call-up, and maybe the fact that he's played in the NBA means he might get a few calls.
- I've said this before, but some other NBA team (ahem, Washington Wizards) needs to trade for San Antonio/Austin's Malik Hairston. Please. He can play. He can score and he can D up a little bit. While Keith Bogans gives the Spurs...what exactly? Hairston is demolishing the D-League. It's good that he's getting playing time somewhere, I guess, but come on.
Sioux Falls Skyforce 98, Tulsa 66ers 90 (Box Score) (Highlights)
- One night after playing 50 minutes, Reggie Williams had his second-worst game of the season, with 12 points on 3-11 shooting and zero rebounds. On last week's Versus game, the announcers asked SF coach Tony Fritz if he was going to rest Williams after playing him 45 minutes the previous night. The answer was no (and Williams played 45 minutes that night and faded in the second half). Now, it's true that the Skyforce won this game, but at some point they have to give Williams as break or else he's going to give out entirely. It may be tough for a first-year head coach (in the D-League anyway) with a well-respected guy looking over his shoulder (assistant coach Duane Ticknor) and a player as talented as Williams, but the long-term benefits of not playing him 90 minutes on consecutive nights has to outweigh the possibility of getting two straight wins, right?
- I didn't see the game, but I'm guessing Tulsa lost because their bench combined for 2-9 shooting from outside (the rest of the team was 5-11). Moses Ehambe and Deron Washington, I'm looking in your direction.
Rio Grande Valley Vipers 100, Erie BayHawks 94 (Box Score) (Highlights)
- In Joey Dorsey's absence, John Bryant had a season-high 19 rebounds to go with 22 points. Rio Grande Valley would do well to find someone else who can rebound besides Mike Harris, because Julian Sensley and Mickell Gladness aren't getting it done. Someone like, I dunno, Kurt Looby maybe?
- Frank Tolbert has been starting for Erie, and I don't really know why. He's had only one good game this season, and is shooting 6-30 over his last three games, including 0-7 last night.