Ignite defeat Wolves on back-to-back nights to sweep season series
The NBA G League Ignite backed up yesterday’s win with another strong performance Tuesday, Feb. 28 in front of their home fans at The Dollar Loan Center.
The Ignite were in control for most of the game and kept their foot on the gas pedal to eventually grab a, 110-102, win against the Iowa Wolves.
The team will be in action next on Friday when they host the Capital City Go-Go at The Dollar Loan Center. Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m.
The circumstances surrounding the win are what makes it most impressive for this year’s developmental team. They faced games on consecutive nights and were coming in with a 2-5 in the second games of those back-to-backs.
“Back-to-backs so far this season haven’t been too kind to us,” Ignite veteran John Jenkins said. “We’ve been tired. These teenagers are trying to figure out how to structure their days and get their minds right.”
Despite their recent struggles in those situations, Jenkins credited the team for pushing hard for the entirety of the game and called the effort “perfect.”
While Jenkins, the leading scorer on the Ignite, contributes in a big way on the court, he knows that he has to play just as important of a role off the court. With the team’s roster being a blend of young NBA hopefuls and professional basketball veterans, Jenkins embraces the challenge of balancing the roles of player and mentor.
“It’s a different mentality for me, especially this season,” Jenkins said. “I have to lead, I have to be a coach, I have to play my game. But for me leading by example is the biggest thing because I’m not the most vocal guy in the world. As long as they see me playing hard every night and in practice, I’m doing my job.”
One of those players Jenkins has brought under his wing is 18-year-old Sidy Cissoko, who again scored 22 points for the Ignite, matching his total from last night. The rookie is averaging 12.8 points per game this season but has scored over 20 points in each of the last four games, and is blossoming into a star for the Ignite.
Cissoko did most of his damage in the second half, scoring 14 of his 22 points late to help the Ignite keep the Wolves at a safe distance.
The close to the first half set the stage for the Ignite’s second half push. The game was tightly contested through much of the first half, but the Ignite flipped a switch and took off as the opening 24 minutes wound down.
An 18-6 run took just 4:16 of game time, which turned a tie game into a 12-point Ignite lead at the half and set the tone for the remainder of the night.
The lead grew to as many as 17 points in the second half, and despite a last-minute surge by the Wolves, the Ignite held on.
While Cissoko dropped 22 points, it was still Jenkins who led the way for the Ignite with 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting. Projected No. 2 overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft, Scoot Henderson, chipped in with 14 points, as did forward Leonard Miller with the same total .
Reserve guard Cameron Young was the final Ignite player to reach double digits, scoring 10 points. He scored five of those during the late first-half run, contributing at just the right time for the Ignite.
This win leaves the developmental team with a record of 9-13, sitting in 10th place in the Western Conference. They sit four games behind Salt Lake City for the final playoff spot in the conference, with the top six teams in each conference earning a playoff bid.
There is a lot of work to be done to reach that point, but Jenkins knows that it’s important to just take it day by day and focus on the task at hand.
If the team continues on its upward trend, it could be quite a force toward the end of the season.
“It’s starting to click,” Jenkins said. “It’s going to be pretty scary. Hopefully, toward the playoffs, we can really get going.”