While the losing streak for the NBA G League Ignite continued Sunday, Dec. 11, head coach Jason Hart saw something happen for the first time with his group.
“Today was our first game where we just really let our effort down,” head coach Jason Hart said. “We didn’t give any effort. It was piss-poor.”
To wrap up a four-game homestand, the Ignite were trounced by the Stockton Kings 128-102 from The Dollar Loan Center in Henderson, Nevada. The loss runs the team’s losing streak to a season-high eight games.
The team’s homestand opened and closed with a loss to Stockton. Now, the team is 3-12 on the season and firmly in last place in the Western Division.
“They’re grown men,” Hart said. “So if I’m coaching effort then you’re not going to make it. For me, my message is not to scream and not to get my blood pressure high – it’s me telling you the reality of, ‘I don’t think you’re going to make it.’”
This year’s Ignite team has one more game to play before the G League’s Winter Showcase, which is set to take place from Monday Dec. 19 to Thursday, Dec. 22 from the Mandalay Bay.
Plenty of scouts were in the building for this contest ahead of next week’s showcase.
“They probably feel like shit,” Hart said. “I will for them when you have 30 NBA scouts in there and you lay an egg like that. These opportunities don’t come around. You just never know who’s going to come watch you at any moment.”
That game will be a road contest to play the Santa Cruz Warriors Friday, Dec. 16. Both teams have each picked up a victory through two games played against each other this season.
“We have to finish out the month of December playing hard,” Hart said. “Guys are fighting for their jobs and their draft status so we have to come with much better effort when we go up to Santa Cruz. We’ve have to have a sense of urgency ASAP.” Sloppy play in the second quarter began the downward slide for the Ignite, picking up five in each of the first two quarters. Back-to-back turnovers near the midway point of the second quarter saw the Kings go up by double-digits.
“Physicality today, they just really punked us,” Hart said. “They pushed us around. We couldn’t get any offense in rhythm. Everything was a heave and luck in terms of getting to our spots.”
Center Eric Mika agreed with his head coach’s choice of words following the team’s 26-point loss.
“Unfortunately, I agree with him,” he said. “That’s not a young guys, old guys thing, that’s a whole team thing. We’re all getting chances out there, we’re all getting minutes. From top-to-bottom, we just didn’t do our jobs.”
It wasn’t all bad in that second quarter for the home team as the Ignite went on a 13-5 run to cut the deficit to two points.
By halftime, the lead was eight points for Stockton despite a 55% shooting mark from the field including hovering around 42% from three-point range.
“We have to defend as a team, man,” guard John Jenkins said. “I’m sure they say it every game in here but we have to start applying it. We talk about it, talk about it, talk about it and guys are trying but it’s the extra effort.” At the sound of the final buzzer, the Ignite had shot 51% from the field and 41% from deep. On the other hand, the team allowed the Kings to shoot 54% from the floor and 43% from three-point territory.
“In the G League, you’re either up 20 or down 20,” Hart said. “I was just disappointed in the effort and the lack of effort they showed throughout the game. That was my biggest gripe as a coach, I can live with missing shots.”
Little did the team know at the halfway point that the worst was yet to come as Stockton’s best quarter came in the third frame, beating the Ignite, 38-22, in the process. Overall, the team was outscored 57-38 in the second half.
Before the end of the game, the Ignite would trail by as many as 31 points in the fourth quarter.
“It’s tough because if the other losses don’t happen, this one definitely doesn’t happen,” Mika said. “It’s sort of a domino effect, you don’t see it until later on.”
Jenkins played in his first game since Nov. 4 and second game as he returned from a lower back strain.
“It’s been a long wait,” he said. “Back injuries are never fun. The staff did a great job helping me get back, my teammates were very supportive, just a lot of hard work.”
From the moment he touched the floor, Jenkins let it fly from the field, finding success early and often. He rattled off 11 first quarter points in less than six minutes played.
“John was good, man,” Hart said. “We only could play him 12 minutes. We played his 11:57, he had 14 points so hopefully his minutes continue to grow. It’s kind of tough, he’s one of your best offensive players tonight and he played 11 minutes.”
Jenkins finished with 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting including three made threes in just under 12 minutes of work.
“When I played in the league it was similar,” he said. “[I would play] like 10 to 12 minutes. Obviously, it’s never fun being on a minutes restriction but this is what I have to go through right now in order to play longer minutes in the future.”
The Ignite were led by forward Leonard Miller, who tallied his third double-double of the season with 18 points and 13 rebounds on 8-of-12 shooting with two made threes.
Mika and guard Cameron Young followed with 16 points apiece. Young also turned heads with a first quarter poster that brought the Ignite bench to its feet.
Forward Sidy Cissoko was the final player in double-figures with 13 points on 5-of-11 from the field.