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Dollar Loan Center hosts Ignite’s first regular season home game, team drops fifth straight

Somebody was bound to pick up their first win when the Oklahoma City Blue and G League Ignite locked horns Friday night inside the Dollar Loan Center. After 48 minutes of play, the DLC crowd saw its team fumble away a fifth straight game to start the regular season.

Oklahoma City pulled away with a, 125-115, win despite several comeback efforts from the home team. Coming into the game, both teams were staring at 0-4 overall record with the first four games coming on the road for the Ignite.

Prior to the contest, this year’s developmental group hadn’t played a home game in three weeks.

Friday’s contest marked the start of an eight-game homestand for the Ignite which continues Sunday, Jan. 7 against the Austin Spurs with tip-off scheduled for 3 p.m. from the DLC. That will be the first of two back-to-back games against the Spurs.

Despite two fierce comebacks, the Ignite fell just short of picking up their first win of the regular season. Ultimately, it was a 19-9 OKC run after head coach Jason Hart’s group briefly took a one-point lead in the third quarter.

Starting slow put the Ignite behind the eight-ball early on the heels of a 9-0 run by the Blue. Soon after, the Ignite would respond with a 14-4 run to get themselves back into the game. As it did most of the night, OKC countered with a 5-0 run to regain the lead.

Oklahoma City built a lead as large as 13 points in the first half ahead of the third quarter thunderstorm by the home team. The Ignite cut the deficit down to four points two separate times before the club tied the game at 85 and 87 apiece on the way to snatching its first second half lead of the game.

Draft-eligible forward Tyler Smith led the team in scoring with 21 points off-the-bench for Hart’s group. Ten of his points came in the third quarter as Ignite made its biggest second half push.

Second-year Ignite guard London Johnson chipped in 17 points to go along with seven assists which shared for the game-high. His efforts helped his team rack up 26 total assists on 36 made field goals.

Johnson did account for six of the team’s 18 turnovers on the night which turned into easy points the other way for the Blue. By the final buzzer, the Blue outscored the Ignite, 17-11, in terms of points off turnovers while being forced into 10 turnovers.

Through the first half, the scoring tandem of Ron Holland and John Jenkins was limited to just 2-for-13 from the floor. The former had his fingerprints nearly everywhere else going into halftime with six points, five assists and eight rebounds.

Holland closed the night with 16 points while Jenkins added 15 more of his own with eight coming in the final frame of the game.

Projected top pick Matas Buzelis scored 14 points and hauled in eight rebounds while also punching home two monster dunks for the highlight reel. He finished off a defensive highlight of a block with a one-hand dunk on the other end. A quarter later, he’d execute a left-to-right crossover before powering another one through the rim.

Fellow draft eligible forward Izan Almansa recorded another double-double two nights after posted a career-high 23 points in a loss against the Sioux Falls Skyforce. He finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds which tied the game-high.


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