Four technical fouls and another second half collapse ushered the NBA G League Ignite to a second straight loss and third straight home loss most recently.
In the second half of a back-to-back, the Ignite lost, 132-114, to the Sioux Falls Skyforce Friday, March 17 from The Dollar Loan Center. Entering the two-game series, Sioux Falls was seeded sixth while the now-eliminated Ignite still had a fighting chance for the playoffs from the 10 spot.
“Every game has a playoff feel,” forward Leonard Miller said. “I feel like we’re trying to go out and win. We’re not trying to half-ass anything. We’re trying to go out and really leave our mark over these last couple of games in the season.”
This year’s developmental team has given up 120 points or more 16 times this year while allowing 130 or more on four different occasions. Additionally, the team is now 4-6 in the backend of back-to-backs.
Following the loss, head coach Jason Hart was not made available to the media.
At The DLC this season, the Ignite are 5-10 and are currently on a three-game slide from their home venue. The Ignite have one more home game remaining on the schedule with two more road games sandwiched around it.
“It’s been a remarkable season,” Miller said. “I love this group of guys, I love the coaching staff, I love the whole Ignite organization and Henderson. The fans really showed love and the building in which we play in is just wonderful. It’s great to go out there every night that we have a home game and we give it our all.”
First, the team must travel to Stockton to take on the first-place Kings Sunday, March 19 from the Stockton Arena. Tip-off is slated for 2 p.m.
Sioux Falls closed the third quarter on a 16-0 run to take an 18-point lead into the final quarter, which counted as its largest lead of the game to that point. Guard Mychal Mulder cashed in on two three-pointers while forward Sam Thompson threw down a fast break dunk as part of that run to push the lead to double-digits.
Mulder led all scorers with 40 points on 12-of-21 from the field including nine made threes.
The Ignite just couldn’t get much going in their favor in that third quarter including having had two layups roll off the rim with the team down seven. Not to mention, the team fouled the Skyforce eight times, sending them to the line to collect 14 points in the 12-minute frame alone.
Early in the second quarter, Hart called a timeout and could be heard tearing into his team as the team looked up at a nine-point deficit. That reaction was not typical for the second-year head coach.
However, the outburst ignited the team to the tune of a 20-6 run coming out of the timeout.
“He’s always pushing us to really get the best out of us,” Miller said. “He’s honest – if he sees anything that’s wrong or that we can do better [he says it]. Us, as players, we listen to him, I myself, listen to him and we just apply what he says because he wants the best [for us].”
Hart was given a technical foul late in the first quarter while arguing a non-call against Miller, who also was hassling the referee for a foul. That marked the first of four technical fouls for the home team.
Matters were compounded as Sioux Falls had built a lead as large as 15 points in the opening quarter.
“[The Skyforce] are a really good team,” Miller said. “They got their thing going on early in the game – we should’ve as well but it just didn’t happen. We battled and that’s all that matters.”
Guard Sidy Cissoko picked up a technical foul of his own in the second quarter just before halftime. Forward Babacar Sane was the subject of two official reviews due to hard fouls with the first coming in the opening quarter and the other coming in the final frame in regulation.
The latter foul landed him a flagrant-one along with a technical foul. The team’s final technical foul came just before the final buzzer after Hart signaled for a timeout while not having any left, earning an excessive timeout tech.
Overall, the Skyforce picked up 32 points at the free throw versus just 10 for the Ignite.
Miller posted yet another double-double with 29 points and 13 rebounds while playing 37-plus minutes. That goes down as his 17th double-double of the year and his 13th in the last 14 games.
As the Ignite made their second quarter run, Miller was responsible for scoring seven straight points including tying the game at 40 apiece on a made layup.
Sane picked up a double-double of his own with 14 points and 10 rebounds, accounting for his second career double-double.
Cissoko added 17 points on 7-of-10 from the floor while picking up a team-high six assists.
Veteran guard John Jenkins scored 13 of his 15 points in the first half before being held to 1-of-5 shooting in the second 24-minute session.
As a team, the Ignite rebounded from a 2-for-8 start from deep to go 8-for-16 the rest of the way.
“We believe in one another to make open shots,” Miller said. “The extra pass we’re making [out there], we trust one another to make it and we did it and it was good to see that ball go in.”