Although the 905 did not play in day two of the NBA D-League Showcase, the day was still rich with solid NBA D-League content. Games were full of ups, downs, left and rights. When it was said and done, it was a good day that gave the scouts a lot to think about
12:30 Fort Wayne Mad Ants vs Windy City Bulls
This game turned into an absolute blowout by halftime. The Windy City Bulls laid a one-sided beatdown on the Fort Wayne mad ants, as they cruised to a 102-78 victory. The Bulls were able to find an offensive grove by second quarter and did not look back. Alec Brown and Alfonzo McKinnie impressed. Alec Brown showed his post presence and range for all 14 of his points and 15 of his rebounds. McKinnie led the team in points as he too had a double double. McKinnie finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Ferrakohn Hall provided 14 points off the bench.
For the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, this was clearly not the showing that they wanted to have. As they are a team much better offensive team than their 78 points would suggest. They Mad Ants are fourth in points per game, as they average 112.1 of those aforementioned points. One bright spot for the Mad Ants was the play of Alex Poythress. Poythress netted 18 points in 25 minutes of action. Needless to say, the Mad Ants players hope for a better showing next game.
Excitement of game grade: D
3:00 Sioux Falls Skyforce vs Reno Bighorns
At the half, the Sioux Falls Skyforce were up 63-51. By third quarter the Skyforce were up 93-73. This game had all the makings of a rout. However, this resilient Bighorns team, coached by former Toronto Raptor Darrick Martin, started to mount a Raptors-like comeback. At one point, the Bighorns cut it to 9. Unfortunately that would be as close as they would get as the Skyforce came away with a 114-105 win. Skyforce Point guard Patrick Miller used every bit of his running back like frame to drop 29 points and 4 assists. Skyforce big man Keith Benson also had himself a day. Benson poured in 18 points on 8 shots. Luis Montero provided the bench production for the Skyforce with 22 points and 10 rebounds.
Reno Bighorns have Pe’Shon Howard, Kadeem Jack, and Lamar Patterson for the valiant effort. Howard had 28 points and 6 rebounds, Jack got an 18 point, 12 rebound double double and Lamar Patterson had 19 points and 8 rebounds. Chane Behanan also contributed for the Bighorns with 15 points. The Bighorns put themselves in a hole that they could not dig themselves out of and that cost them despite a huge fourth quarter.
Excitement of Game Grade: B-
6:00 Canton Charge vs Maine Red Claws
The Red Claws came into this game bouncing back from their defeat against the 905, winning 115-108 over the Windy City Bulls. This time they squared off against the Canton Charge and pulled out a hard earned 122-117 win. The Red Claws had the lead for much of the fourth quarter, thanks to a 38-23 third quarter. However, with 46.9 seconds left, John Holland tied the game up at 115-115. That set the stage up for Abdel Nader to hit a clutch 3 pointer with 22.2 seconds left, as the shot clock was expiring. That 3 pointer was part of Nader’s huge day as he dropped 29 points and 7 assists. Despite some defensive breakdowns, including Nader, four Red Claws players scored 18 or more points.
The Charge also were able to fill the cup often. John Holland led the Charge with 28 points, with 27 points and 8 assist coming from Quinn Cook. The Charge also had two double doubles as Eric Moreland had 22 points and 11 rebounds and Charge power forward Johnathan Holmes provided some help off the bench with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
If you are a fan of Canadian Basketball then you were checking this game out. Red Claws Head Coach Scott Morrison is already known as a Canadian basketball legend. He is known as one of the few CIS coaches to ever coach a team who outdueled a Dave Smart coached Carleton squad, during his time as head coach of Lakehead University. His Red Claws will be in action once again on Saturday January 21st at 12:30pm against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
Excitement of Game Grade: A-
8:30 Oklahoma City Blue at Santa Cruz Warriors
This game was the Dakari Johnson and Reggie Williams show. The Blue players led the team to a 95-86 victory. For about three quarters, this game was looking to be a tight showdown. However, the Warriors were unable to punch back significantly after the Blue jumped to a 17 point lead in the fourth quarter. The Blue’s Center, Dakari Johnson had a 25 point, 13 rebound double double in the win. The Blue’s Reggie Williams was the game leader in points with 26 and had 7 rebounds in the win.
The Warriors did not have player score 20 points for them in this game. While they were able to get some production from Dennis Clifford, who had 14 points and 15 rebounds, this was a balanced attack for them. Scott Wood and Alex Hamilton each had 16 to lead the Warriors in points. An interesting thing is that the Warriors took 43 three point attempts and it did not work for them at all. The team went a horrid 11-43 from beyond the arc. While the Warriors modus operandi is that they shoot the 3, they definitely died by it tonight.
Excitement of Game Grade: B
Individual Winners and Losers of Day 2
Honorable Mention: Keith Benson (Sioux Falls Skyforce)
Abdel Nader (Maine Red Claws):
Abdel Nader really gave the scouts a lot to think about. Nader not only showed his scoring touch but his ability to be a playmaker. His also showed the lateral quickness to guard multiple positions if he commits to defense. This is important because with the emergence of the ‘big point guard’, Abdel Nader at 6’8 could potentially find himself landing that kind of roll with a team. While the notion of Abdel Nader being a point guard is a bit of a stretch, there are examples in the NBA of the large point guard working out swimmingly for other teams.
Dakari Johnson (Oklahoma City Blue):
The Thunder affiliate team had to play a back to back Wednesday and Thursday but did not care as they went 2-0. This is impressive on its own but the story has clearly been the play of Dakari Johnson. The center has been an absolute force on the inside for the Blue. At the showcase Johnson is averaging 22.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2 blocks per game. Johnson is also displaying that he is a heck of an athlete and that will impress the scouts the most.
Patrick Miller (Sioux Falls Skyforce):
Patrick Miller absolutely exploded for 29 points out of nowhere. He was strong defensively as well and really gave the scouts a lot to think about. Here is the problem; Miller is undersized at a listed 6’1 and while he actually has been playing well the last 4 games, he is only averaging 11.5 points per game. That might make scouts want to steer clear of the guard.
Dishonorable Mention: Demetrius Jackson (Maine Red Claws)
Lamar Patterson (Reno Bighorns):
Lamar Patterson had 19 points on 7-15 shooting and 8 rebounds which is good. It was his defense was the story in the Bighorns game against the Skyforce. From looking the game you can tell it was evident that he was messing up his defensive assignments at times. On the stat sheet it showed as he was a -19. This is even more glaring when you realize that his -19 was the worst +/- rating of the game by far.
Alex Poythress (Fort Wayne Mad Ants):
Poythress was one of the few bright spots for the Mad Ants but unfortunately when a team gets blown out, then the player who did well on the losing side is an afterthought. Also it is not like he set the world on fire as he was in foul trouble and got his 18 points on 7-17 shooting. An interesting thing to point out is that he got blocked 5 times. I am not sure what that means in the big picture but for this game it definitely showed a lack of getting off a high percentage shot.
Phil Pressey (Santa Cruz Warriors):
Pressey had a tough night as he went 3-13 from the field and 2-9 from the three. This game was a case study of what happens when a guy who relies on the three, has a bad night. A positive is that Pressey had 6 assists and 8 rebounds, which displays effort. However, his main asset is the 3 point shot. Pressey is 8th in three pointers made per game, at 3.2 and his three point shot picked the worst time to not show up.
Final Thoughts: I was really impressed with the Ball Movement for most players in this game. During showcases, many players tend to want to play hero ball but these players maintained a professional attitude to win the game.