Last night, the Sioux Falls Skyforce lost for just the first time in exactly a month. On a 10-game winning streak since Dec. 14, Sioux Falls strolled into Des Moines shorthanded for a contest with the Iowa Energy.
Playing without perhaps its two best players, the Skyforce fell 101-99 on a dunk by Alex Stepheson with 4.3 seconds left. It was either a perfectly executed pick-and-roll run by he and Andrew Harrison, or horribly defended by Byron Mullens.
Jabril Trawick had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but his shot was no good.
DeAndre Liggins, the D-League's No. 18 prospect, is dealing with a foot issue and did not dress for Sioux Falls. Miami Heat-assignee Jarnell Stokes missed his second consecutive game with an illness.
Stepheson is the 23rd-ranked prospect, per the D-League's official site, and he played like it on Thursday. The center scored 20 points on 9-14 shooting, grabbed 14 boards, blocked four shots, and dished out two assists.
Joel Wright scored a game-high 26 points for Iowa on just 8-24 shooting.
Blowing at 15-point halftime lead is uncharacteristic of the Skyforce. The team's calling card is its defense. They lead the league in opponent scoring and point differential. This is clearly evidence of the defensive impact that Liggins has on the team, as well as the offensive impact from Stokes who dominates in the paint.
Nevertheless, Sioux Falls coach Dan Craig can't be too upset. His team still leads the Eastern Conference's Central Division by six games, and the Skyforce lead the Austin Spurs by two games for the best record in the D-League.
The Energy (11-10) host the Grand Rapids Drive tonight at 7 pm. The Skyforce (17-4) return home to host the Fort Wayne Mad Ants tonight at 7.