November 23rd D-League Round Up: Opening Night
The 2012-13 D-League season started up Friday night with four highly competitive games. Thanks to the recent agreement between the D-League and YouTube, I had the ability to watch all of the games. I checked out the Canton Charge vs. the Maine Red Claws live before enjoying the other contests via video archive.
Besides one minor exception (the Texas vs. Tulsa game that I’ll talk about later on) each of these games were offensive shootouts that weren’t the best games technically but certainly were exciting match-ups from the opening tip to the final whistle. With that said, let’s take a trip back to last night and take a look at all four games.
Canton Charge Vs. Maine Red Claws
If you were following me last night on twitter (@Dakota_Schmidt), you would’ve noticed me live tweeting the game and showing my displeasure in the way Celtics forward Fab Melo was playing. Now I’m not really attacking Danny Ainge and the rest of the Celtics front-office because they’ve worked miracles for the Celtics, but I’m already wondering if the drafting of Fab Melo was a mistake. Normally when an NBA player gets called down to the D-League they flourish, but Melo was an exception as he played poorly in last night’s game against Canton. Melo looked disinterested last night and was lazy both on the offensive and defensive ends last night, finishing with just 2 points and 1 rebound in 20 minutes. There were times when Canton’s guards Kyle Gibson and Kevin Anderson drove to the hole last night with Melo just watching as they made easy layups.
The Maine Red Claws did show spirit and resilience last night as they came back from a 17-point deficit to win the game 123-115 thanks to Celtics assignment Kris Joseph and former Warrior Chris Wright who put the Red Claws on their back in the second half to lead the team to victory. Those two players combined for 52 points (Joseph with 28 and Wright with 24) but were also helped out by a bunch of great performances by Shelvin Mack (16 points), Chris Ayer (14 points) and Micah Downs, Xavier Silas and Champ Oguchi who all posted 13 points.
Despite losing the game I think the player of the game had to be former West Virginia Mountaineer and current Charge PF Kevin Jones who posted an impressive 26 points and 14 rebounds while also showing a decent shot from about 18 feet, which really wasn’t talked about that much in the lead-up to last June’s NBA draft. Besides Jones, some other notable performances for Canton included Antoine Agudio putting up 20 points while making three shots from behind the line. The aforementioned backcourt of Gibson and Anderson both had solid statistical games, but both fell silent when the Red Claws were making their third quarter run.
Erie BayHawks Vs. Fort Wayne Mad Ants
If there’s a single duo that could make the biggest splash in the D-League this year I would have to go with the combination of DJ Kennedy and Nick Covington for the Erie BayHawks. Like the Mad Ants announcers stated during the game, Kennedy has the speed of a 6’0″ guard but the long arms of a power forward all combined in a 6’6″ and 215-pound frame. Kennedy looked smooth last night, posting a 21-point, 10-rebound performance. It would be surprising if he doesn’t get a shot in the NBA this season because he could be a contributing player this season. While Kennedy is one of those players that could do anything around the court, Covington’s main strength is shooting 3s, and it’s safe to say that he lit up the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum last night by making 5 shots from beyond the arc. Covington lead the team with 27 points and at times looked absolutely unstoppable against Fort Wayne in a 109-100 victory.
While those two players shined, former Pepperdine forward Mychel Thompson had an extremely solid game himself going for 16 points, 7 boards, 5 assists and 5 steals.
While Fort Wayne may have lost last night, you can not overlook how great Mad Ants veteran Ron Howard looked. He was everywhere on the court last night with 27 points and 7 rebounds on 7-13 shooting. The Pacers brought down Miles Plumlee and Orlando Johnson for the two weekend games, and they both produced against Erie. Plumlee had a rough night offensively shooting 2-9 from the field but caught 12 rebounds. Like Plumlee, Johnson had a rough day from the field shooting 5-16 but ended up with 16 points. Former Piston Walker Russell also looked fantastic by going for 17 points and 6 assists while putting up some crazy circus shots that are highlights you should look out for if you’re planning on watching the replay of the game on YouTube.
Texas Legends Vs. Tulsa 66ers
Is it too early to nickname the Texas Legends “The Roberts Bros and Co.”? If your name didn’t have Chris and/or Roberts in it then you didn’t do a thing in last night’s contest against the 66ers. Former NBA role player Chris Douglas Roberts had a spectacular opening-night game by notching up 31 points with 11 of those coming from the charity stripe. Meanwhile the other Chris Roberts, a former Bradley Braves guard, posted 22 points on 8-17 shooting and grabbed 7 rebounds. Former NBA players Melvin Ely, Christian Eyenga, and Sean Singletary combined for only 10 points on 5-19 from the field (Eyenga was 2-10).
While CDR lit up the scoreboard for the Legends, Thunder assignee DeAndre Liggins messed around and got a triple double for the 66ers with 15 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. Daniel Orton, the other Thunder player on assignment, had a great game posting 10 points and 11 rebounds. Some other notable players in last night’s 66ers 83-76 victory included Dominique Sutton (13 points and 6 rebounds) and former Knick guard Andy Rautins who laced up 11 points thanks to making three shots from behind the line.
Bakersfield Jam Vs. Rio Grande Valley Vipers
The final game on the docket was an offensive showcase between two teams that appear to be loaded with depth after last night’s game. For Rio Grande Valley, the two Rockets that were called down were both productive in a 115-113 defeat, including a fantastic 31-point and 8-rebound performance by center Donatas Motiejunas. The other Rocket Scott Machado almost posted a double-double with 20 points and 8 assists. Former Warrior Jeff Adrian had a fantastic game with 17 points and 11 boards.
Bakersfield really didn’t have a star performer like Motiejunas but just had solid performers all over the roster. Former Badger center Brian Butch lead the charge with 14 points and 15 rebounds. Sticking with alumni from Wisconsin colleges, former Marquette Golden Eagle Jerel McNeal had 13 points with 6 assists. The Jam really won this game because of their work at the charity stripe making 10 more free throws than the Vipers all thanks to forward Renaldo Major who put up 20 points and 6 boards but also was perfect from the free-throw line making all 8 of his shots. Some notable bench performances include Stephen Dennis who laced up 13 points, Isma’il Muhammad with 10 points and James Nunnally with 14.