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Squeaky Johnson Helped the Austin Toros Squeak Out A Victory Last Night In The D-League

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Austin Toros 102, Dakota Wizards 90 (Box Score)

In the preview, I said that if the Wizards were going to win, they would "have to rely on their vets and play solid defense." 

Well, Dakota let Austin hit 10 three-pointers - a decent amount of them without a defender defending -  and their two most veteran players combined for just 16 points on 6-of-18 shooting between 31-year-old starting center Corsley Edwards and 30-year-old starting point guard (and sixth-year Wizard) Maurice Baker. 

Suffice to say, the Wizards didn't really do what I thought they'd need to do to win the game and Austin did just enough to advance to the second round against an opponent to be determined.

Wizards coach Rory White probably put it best in the Lou Babiarz game recap, though, as far the win-or-go-home series was concerned:

"It was like we would go, 'We'll go home.' And they'd go, 'No, we'll go home.' "

It wasn't pretty, but in the end, the Wizards are the team that went (are going?) home.

Monstars and Nonstars after the jump!

First the Monstars:

  • Carldell "Squeaky" Johnson has a great name, but you probably already know that as long as you're able to read and like funny nicknames.  You probably didn't realize he had a decent game, though, after seeing that 5-foot-10 D-League vet out of Alabama-Birmingham averaged just 6.5 points for the Toros this season despite appearing in all 50 games as Curtis Jerrells de facto backup.  Last night, he showed what he's able to do (and what I alluded to in my series preview - yay, me!) by scoring 19 points and adding eight rebounds, three steals and two blocks off the bench for the Toros.  The biggest contribution, though, came by way of his dagger three-point bombs as he hit 4-of-6 from beyond the arc.
  • Alonzo Gee had a great game - if he wasn't already property of the San Antonio Spurs, I'd suggest somebody call him up immediately.  After having a quiet game two, he came back with a vengeance in this series-deciding game by attacking the rim with reckless abandon on his way to 24 points while shooting (dunking?) 9-of-14 from the field.  You can see it in the highlights above, I guess, but the way he attacks the basket is great - and NBA translatable.
  • Memphis Grizzlies assignee Lester Hudson was on the edge of either being included in the Monstars or the Nonstars, but in the end I decided to give him some credit for what he did do instead of criticizing him for what else he did.  What did he do, you ask?  Hudson finished with 21 points, seven rebounds, two steals and a block including a pair of clutch back-to-back three-pointers late in the fourth quarter that brought the Wizards back from a 93-84 deficit with 2:19 left in the game to a more manageable 93-90 with 1:38 left on the clock.  What else did he do, you're wondering?  I opined in the game thread that "if Lester Hudson's jumpshot was as good as he thought it was, he'd be really good."  So his shot selection wasn't great, though a respectable 9-of-20 from the field.  He also turned the ball over in traffic with the Wizards down three and 1:13 left in the game when he could have slowed it down, let everyone get into place, and possibly tie the game up.  As White said later, "That's part of what Lester has to learn, especially as a point guard. He had made two 3's so calm down, use your judgment."

And now for the dreaded Nonstars:

  • Corsley Edwards was a player that I thought would be the key ingredient to this series with Dwayne Jones in Phoenix, leaving Austin without a real post presence.  Unfortunately for the Wizards, he wasn't.  He was able to pick up a double-double this game with 10 points and 10 rebounds, but shot just 4-of-12 from the field and and picked up four fouls to go with his four turnovers in just over 21 minutes of action.  Oofta.
  • Curtis Jerrells inclusion in the Nonstars section probably shows just how much I've come to enjoy his game.  For most players, scoring a game-high 25 points would be a sure fire way to get into the top portion of this recap.  For Jerrells, though, I have to take issue with his shooting - 8-of-20 from the field including hitting an abysmal 1-of-7 from beyond the arc.  When he drives to the basket, he's one of the best in the D-League, but I think having Marcus Williams on the court actually gives him too much leeway to do things he shouldn't really be doing - like shooting seven three-pointers, for instance.  As the point guard, he's really becoming a leader and figuring out what's going on around him - and I like that more than what he did in this game.  If Squeaky didn't step up as well as he did, Austin may well be out of the playoffs - and the blame would be on Jerrells' shoulders.
  • Marcus Williams struggled as well, hitting just 3-of-14 from the field and turning the ball over five times on his way to seven points.  I'm not sure if the Pacers "thing" distracted him, but that's the only reason I can think of for Williams performance in this series - the base numbers are nice (15 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 6.5 apg), but the fact that he shot just 34% from the field and  turned the ball over 6.5 times per game is a bit disheartening.