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Last Night in the D-League, Featuring a Lot of Close Games (and One Blowout)

Sioux Falls Skyforce 119, Dakota Wizards 118 (OT) (Highlights) (Box Score)

  • This was a fun second half and overtime.  The Skyforce were behind for the first half and into the third, but they just kept playing solid defense, hitting threes (well, not Chris McCray) and worked their way back into the game.  Hopefully they can replicate it tomorrow on Versus.  (Also, those highlights unfortunately don't include a monster block that Stiemsma had on Connor Atchley, but I enjoyed it.  I also think the guy reading the highlights sounds like the announcer from the Japanese Iron Chef.  (or at least the guy dubbing his voice into English) How about you?)
  • So, Nate Jawai.  I guess I should talk about him.  It was clear when he checked into the game through the rest of the first half that he was rusty.  He missed several layups and turned the ball over a few times.  He played a bit better in the second half, though.  Timberwolves exec Fred Hoiberg was in attendance, and at halftime mentioned that Jawai has decent agility for a man of his, er, carriage.  That's true, but Jawai also looked pretty flat-footed on defense and doesn't have the best hands in the world - he grabbed just three rebounds in about 30 minutes, partly because he bobbled away at least that many more.  He also got a technical in the third quarter when he got fouled by Cory Underwood, then flipped the ball into Underwood's chest (Underwood got himself a tech for flipping it back).  Jawai's the guy with an NBA contract - cut that nonsense out.  Last time he was in the D-League, Jawai complained that everyone just looks to score and never passed him the ball.  In his defense, there were a few times in this game where his teammates didn't pass into the post when they probably could've.  But then again, he missed several layups and other close shots, and I'd take a Reggie Williams three over that any day.  Jawai also needs a lot of work on his free throws.
  • New paragraph.  Deep breath.  Speaking of Reggie Williams, he's really good.  Oh, you want more?  He had 36 points on 19 shots, six assists, and also played pretty solid defense picking up four steals.  He guarded Maurice Baker for large stretches of the game (and also Renaldo Major), then switched over to Romel Beck for overtime.  He missed a potential game-winning layup at the end of that period, but luckily Raymond Sykes was there for the put-back.
  • The Raymond Sykes-Curtis Withers matchup was pretty fun to watch.  Withers finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds while Sykes had 15 points and showed off better offensive moves than I remembered.  He also air-balled a free throw.
  • Greg Stiemsma and Connor Atchley both played limited minutes due to foul trouble (no, they weren't guarding each other).  The difference is that Stiemsma had several nice blocks throughout the game (he finished with three in 18 minutes, and a fourth was taken away by a goaltending call) and played his usual good post defense in overtime.
  • David Bell was the only guy hitting threes for Dakota, going 5-5 from outside.  He disappeared for a bit towards the middle, but hit some big shots at the end.
  • I was pretty surprised to see that Romel Beck finished with 30 points.  He definitely went to work in overtime, I just don't remember that much scoring through the rest of the game.
  • Cory Underwood has bounced around a bit this season, and while he shot just 5-12 (he needs to work on his jump shot a bit), he was active, had some decent post moves and played solid defense against Jawai.  He can be a pretty good bench option for the Wizards, especially on nights when Atchley is in foul trouble.

Reno Bighorns 124, Springfield Armor 123 (Highlights) (Box Score)

  • It looks like this was an exciting game as well, at least in the fourth quarter.  Will Blalock hit the game-winner with 16 seconds left, while the Armor couldn't convert on two follow-up shots.
  • Desmon Farmer had 41 points on 21 shots, including a perfect 9-9 from the free-throw line.  He also picked up four assists.  I will say without comment that he shot nearly twice as much as any of his teammates (Blalock was next with 11 FGAs).
  • Maybe all it took was playing with JamesOn Curry to finally make Kyle McAlarney into a point guard.  10 assists for him, a new season-high, along with 12 points.
  • Marcus Campbell started for the Armor but played just nine minutes, his lowest total of the season.  I can only imagine it was due to a.) Rod Benson's smothering defense, or b.) injury, in that order.

Utah Flash 98, Albuquerque Thunderbirds 93 (Highlights) (Box Score)

  • Another close one, this game essentially came down to three straight missed free throws by Keith McLeod late in the fourth quarter.  It's a good win for the Flash, because as the graphic on Futurecast kept reminding viewers, 13 of their 16 losses have come in games in which they led at some point in the fourth quarter.
  • Brian Hamilton was playing some solid defense on Carlos Powell, but Powell was still able to go for 22 points, eight rebounds and a game-high five assists.
  • Bennet Davis is making me look smart when I said way back in (NBA) training camp that he still could develop an offensive game.  Davis had 19 points on 10 shots along with 13 rebounds, and from the 10 minutes or so that I saw he really was a threat from the midrange.
  • Orien Greene also played well, with 24 points and five boards.  No assists, though.  I know he's playing more off the ball this year next to Dontell Jefferson,
  • Utah assistant Mark Madsen got a technical foul.  I'm not sure what for, though (it came after a Sasha Cuic miss and rebound).  Maybe he thought he was on his way to the Jazz and was trying to get ejected so that he could get on the road.

Austin Toros 118, Bakersfield Jam 116 (Box Score)

  • Yet another one that came down to the final seconds.  It's apparently gotten to the point where Blake Ahearn is shooting so poorly that he's not even on the floor with 20 seconds left in the game and the Jam down by three.  He was 6-11 in this game but missed both of his three-point attempts.
  • So who got the final shot?  I'll let a text message I received tonight explain: "down one ... Game on line and you come out of timeout to run a play for (Patrick) Mutombo?"  Errrm, yeah. [That was Scott, obviously.  I don't get text messages from anyone except during the Super Bowl, apparently.  The Jam announcers also were a bit confused, however. -Jon L]
  • It's been this way for a few weeks, but I think it's safe to say that Bakersfield finally looks like a D-League team, talent-wise.  In addition to Ahearn, Jeremy Wise scored 30 on 19 shots, Reece Gaines had 18 points and 10 assists and Brian Butch had 23 points and 19 boards.  It's just too bad that Austin came out with their best, you know, whatever.  (It's also too bad that Keith Brumbaugh sprained his MCL)
  • Dwayne Jones struggled offensively with 11 points on 10 shots and 1-6 free-throw shooting (and it feels weird to type this, but...I guess that was against John Edwards?), but he grabbed 20 rebounds, nine on the offensive end, and blocked four shots.  Meanwhile someone wants the Jazz to sign a guy who hasn't played in a year.
  • Eddie Basden was back in the starting lineup, and was pretty bad.  I just don't get that guy.
  • Some terrible free-throw shooting late in this game.  First Curtis Jerrells missed two free throws leaving the Toros up by three.  Reece Gaines then made a layup plus was fouled, but missed the potential game-tying foul shot.  Then Dwayne Jones was fouled and missed both of his.  Yuck. Basden finally put an end to the madness by making one, but then missed the second.

Iowa Energy 124, Idaho Stampede 95 (Highlights) (Box Score)

  • When two of your players (Coby Karl and Mildon Ambres) shoot a combined 3-16 from outside...yeah, you're probably not going to win.  There also was a 33-19 free-throw disparity in favor of Iowa, but when a team shoots that much that poorly, the free throws almost don't matter.
  • Seven players scored in double figures for the Energy, while Curtis Stinson was just outside that with nine points to go with 13 assists.  Courtney Sims had a solid double-double off the bench (14 points, 13 rebounds), Pat Carroll had 15 points on nine shots...yeah, this could go on for awhile.
  • For the Stampede, Joe Dabbert and Lance Allred both had rough shooting nights (which I assume was more from Sims's and Earl Barron's defense and not that of 6'5" Othyus Jeffers, but you never know), though Dabbert did have seven boards in about 19 minutes.  Donell Taylor had a double-double (19 points, 10 rebounds) and Andre Barrett had 20 points and eight assists, so things weren't entirely bleak.