This is a special recap, in that I was able to make a rare appearance outside the confines of my apartment last night and saw this game live, in person. What does that mean for you? An even longer recap! Peruse the boxscore, and enjoy these notes I took.
- As you can see in said boxscore, Austin was ahead the entire game. Beyond the first few minutes, the closest Tulsa came was probably within six points, at halftime. It was still a pretty fun game to watch, despite the lack of any drama.
- There were a few things I'd point to as to why Austin was able to beat a team sporting two NBA assignees. First, the Toros were killing it on the offensive boards. The final numbers came out even (13-13), but seven of Tulsa's offensive rebounds came in the fourth quarter, when the outcome wasn't really in question. Second, three-point shooting. The 66ers made less than 30 percent of their outside shots; I don't know where Deron Washington gets the idea that he can shoot, but someone needs to take that idea away from him. Third, Tulsa's big men have terrible hands; the team finished with 22 turnovers, most of those coming on bobbled passes. Finally (a few means more than three, right?), Austin had a 38-14 advantage in free throw attempts. Normally at this point I'd probably comment on the refs, but while it's probably true that Tulsa didn't get some calls, the 66ers also just have several guys who foul a lot.
- There were several...let's call them "interesting" lineups put on the floor last night, for both teams. The Toros went big at one point in the first half, with a frontcourt of Dwayne Jones, Luke Bonner and Eddie Basden. They also went with a less-successful smaller lineup in the second half with Squeaky Johnson, Curtis Jerrells and Dominique Coleman out on the floor. At one point Tulsa had a lineup of Kyle Weaver-Moses Ehambe-Deron Washington-Latavious Williams-DeVon Hardin. Let's just say they struggled to score and leave it at that.
- The Toros got a lot of shot clock violations in this game. I wasn't keeping count, but I would guess somewhere in the 4-5 ballpark. The problem may lie in Curtis Jerrells walking the ball up the court the majority of the time. Coach Quin Snyder seemed to be calling a lot of plays and putting guys into position himself, so perhaps it's just a function of the new players getting acclimated to the offense.
Hit the jump for my notes on individual players.
- Alonzo Gee was named the player of the game, finishing with 28 points on 18 shots and seven rebounds. He struggled at times, usually when matched up against Kyle Weaver or Larry Owens (he got the better of Owens a few times as well). He completely destroyed Deron Washington, though. Destroyed him. I guess that matchup may have made sense for Tulsa in theory, since Washington is athletic and can keep up with Gee while still having a size advantage, but in practice Gee got to the rim whenever he wanted against Washington, who also left Gee wide open from outside a few times.
- Speaking of leaving wide open, the Toros left Larry Owens wide open several times early on in this game. Gee and Eddie Basden were the main culprits. Owens didn't have an overwhelming game offensively (eight points on nine shots), but he finished with seven rebounds (taking a few of them away from Dwayne Jones) and looked decent handling the ball. Owens probably could dominate an offense and take a bunch of shots if he wanted to, and maybe even lead the league in scoring doing so, but instead he facilitates ball movement and never seems to force things. A solid player.
- Mustafa Shakur also had a somewhat quiet game up until the fourth quarter; 16 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds, and consider he had just four points heading into the final frame. It may have been intentional on his part to take over late, but it might've helped if the game was closer and his effort did more to help his team win. He also played some solid defense, doing a good job of staying in front of Curtis Jerrells and/or funneling him to the big man.
- Byron Mullens, like fellow NBA assignee Hasheem Thabeet, had some pretty good numbers (21 points, eight rebounds) that covered up what was a pretty mediocre game for him. He didn't defend the pick and roll particularly well, and was a non-factor for long stretches. Maybe it's a stamina issue, though he doesn't really play with a lot of energy anyway. I remain fairly unimpressed with Mullens, though he was able to hit shots in the midrange, where Dwayne Jones sometimes struggles to defend.
- Oh! I haven't even talked about the guy who might've been the best player out there, Kyle Weaver (helpfully listed as Eric Smith in your box score). Simply put, he's a fantastic defender covering multiple positions, and ran the point for some stretches while Shakur sat, doing a pretty decent job of it. He also grabbed 10 rebounds and had two blocks. To be sure, Weaver is no great offensive player; he missed several layups, either bricking them or seeing them roll out. I'm not sure if it's an accuracy issue, or one having to do with misjudging how hard or soft to shoot; given some of his other shots, my guess is accuracy. Still, he got into the paint whenever he wanted.
- I've been somewhat critical of Curtis Jerrells at times, mostly for his lack of ball distribution and defense. There wasn't much in last night's game to change my mind; as noted above, Weaver got past him seemingly at will, as did Shakur. He also finished with just four assists, the same amount as Eddie Basden of all people.
- I was a big Dominique Coleman fan last season when he played for Colorado, but he hasn't played particularly well this year. Last night was probably his best game, in fact, with eight points and five steals. The steals all were solid plays, and he played some nice defense when he first checked in, but he got lost several times chasing Moses Ehambe through screens and around curls, and looked like he was still adjusting to the Toros/Spurs' somewhat-structured offense after playing for Bob "get as many shots up as possible" MacKinnon and whatever system they used on his Belgian team.
- DeVon Hardin isn't very good. He fell for pretty much every pump fake offered his way, he played even worse pick and roll defense than Mullens, and aside from one dunk he went up soft on pretty much every layup or close shot, and either missed them or had them blocked. (Okay, I guess he only shot two layups. So one was a block and the other one he just missed.)
- This may come as a surprise to you, I know it did to me, but I thought Big Hugga Luke Bonner should've played more. He played seven minutes, all of it in the first half, and made both of his shots. Maybe it was just being matched up with DeVon Hardin, who sat most of the second half with foul trouble, but Bonner moves pretty well for a guy his size and generally looked good in his limited minutes.
- I wrote this whole thing before realizing I hadn't really discussed Dwayne Jones, who had 26 points and 14 rebounds. Maybe it was his last game as a Toro, maybe not. He showed some decent offensive moves; not all of those points came on rebounds and putbacks, though being guarded by Byron Mullens undoubtedly helped. And despite having a few taken from him by Owens and Weaver, he was active on the boards all night and played some nice defense of his own. It's unfortunate that the NBA doesn't seem to be in the cards for him, as he can undoubtedly contribute, but it is what it is at this point (analysis).