Ignite end Henderson home slate with two-possession loss to Oklahoma City
As the losing streak continued, the NBA G League Ignite closed the chapter that was their home portion of its first full season. Unfortunately for this year’s developmental group, the chapter was shut with a six-point loss.
Oklahoma City stole the second half and beat the Ignite, 100-94, Thursday, March 23 from The Dollar Loan Center. This season, the Blue took four of the five meetings including the final two.
The losing streak has now hit four straight games for the Ignite. With a final loss from The DLC, the Ignite closed out their home slate with a 5-11 on the heels of four straight home losses. Even still, the group is happy to have a place to call home.
“I feel like it’s definitely better than last year,” guard London Johnson said. “We finally have our own homebase – like last year, fans didn’t even know that the Ignite were coming to Vegas.”
With one more game remaining on the schedule, the Ignite will take its 11-20 record into California to take on the South Bay Lakers Saturday, March 25.
“I feel like we should end it on a ‘W,’” Johnson said. “They have a pretty new team, I know the big man, Jay Huff, just went to the [Washington] Wizards so hopefully we can get the ‘W’ in our last game.”
Tip-off is slated for 5 p.m.
A monster third quarter from Oklahoma City wiped out a big first half from the Ignite that provided the team a 14-point cushion at halftime. In fact, the Ignite were limited to their lowest scoring output in any quarter this season at nine points.
The Blue won the quarter 27-9. It opened with a 4-0 run to cut the deficit to 10 points forcing a timeout from head coach Jason Hart. That run would later be stretched to 7-0, trimming the Ignite lead to single-digits.
“The ball was a little stagnant,” Johnson said. “The defense had switched and put [guard Adam] Mokoka on the ball-handler so he was causing havoc and we couldn’t get into our sets.”
At the 1:15-mark of the third quarter, Oklahoma City grabbed its first lead of the game after trailing by as many as 19 points. In the fourth quarter, the Blue went up by 10 points, their largest lead of the game but had it cut to two twice but never relinquished the lead.
Oklahoma City shot 40% from the field in the second half after being handcuffed to the tune of 32% shooting in the first half. While not being able to stop the bleeding on the defensive end, the Ignite were held to 32 points in the second half which ties a season-low for points in any half this year.
While building a 12-point lead in the first quarter, the Ignite shot 12-of-22 from the field while holding their opponent to 9-for-30 on the other end. This included a 1-for-12 mark from three-point range for Oklahoma City.
A lot of the offensive struggles for the Blue came versus a 2-3 zone by the home team.
“It was the switch-up from playing man that kind of threw their coach into a loop,” Johnson said. “Where now they had to think about zone plays and things like that.”
The Ignite led by as many as 19 points in the first half.
Guard Pooh Jeter led the team in scoring with 19 points on 6-of-11 from the floor off-the-bench for the Ignite. He drilled five of his attempted threes.
Johnson and fellow guard Cameron Young added 17 points apiece for the home team on a combined 11-of-29 shooting. Johnson started for presumed No. 2 overall pick Scoot Henderson for the fifth straight time.
“Really the main change from high school and college to the league I feel like is the game speed,” Johnson said. “I felt like I was going to struggle with strength, even though I have to get stronger, I didn’t struggle as much as I thought I was going to struggle. But I’ve learned how to play faster and play with pace.”
The Ignite also had two players turn in double-doubles including a 15-point, 13-rebound effort from guard Mojave King. He has now recorded double-doubles in back-to-back games and now has two for his career.
Forward Shareef O’Neal added 14 points and 10 rebounds of his own.
“They came ready,” Johnson said. “They’re always ready for their names to be called. I just like how other players got a chance to play tonight and show what they can do.”
Sitting out along with Henderson was guard John Jenkins, forward Leonard Miller and centers Eric Mika, Landry Nnoko and Efe Abogidi.