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Ignite start flat, can’t complete comeback against Capitanes

A flat start by the NBA G League Ignite resulted in a comeback that fell just short in the team’s latest outing which served as the team’s fifth game in eight days.

The NBA’s two G League affiliates met with the Mexico City Capitanes downing the Ignite, 121-115, Sunday, Jan. 8 from The Dollar Loan Center.

“Defensively, we were bad today,” head coach Jason Hart said. “Very bad. And it started with our starters so we’ve got to be better defensively and help one another.”

With the loss, the Ignite dropped to 2-3 at home heading into the fourth game of a season-long seven-game homestand. Overall, this year’s developmental group is 4-3.

These two teams will meet again at the same location Tuesday, Jan. 10 with tip-off expected for 7 p.m.

“Tomorrow [the team] will be off,” Hart said. “[Players have to] just have to sleep in tomorrow. We just have to try to get our legs back and sleep in and then we’ll see them again Tuesday, the morning of the game.”

A 37-18 fourth quarter by the Ignite allowed the team to cut a once 24-point deficit down to as little as two points inside of 15 seconds remaining. It was a 20-5 run that started it all and trimmed the Mexico City lead to 10 points with two minutes left.

Guard John Jenkins completed a three-point play with 22.9 left in the fourth quarter to cut it to three points. Later, fellow guard Scoot Henderson would add two free throws to come within two points of tying the game.

“We didn’t have enough early,” Hart said. “This is the part where they’re learning how to compete. At the end of the day, they’re playing a lot of games, the games are close – it’s no different from [the] Boston [Celtics] going to Oklahoma City and losing by 40 [points] without [guard] Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.”

The Capitanes built a lead as large as 15 points in the first quarter led by 12 points from guard Caio Pacheco. At the 5:24-mark of the opening period, Hart subbed in an entire new lineup at once.

“Just coaching the game,” Hart said. “First group wasn’t doing anything so why just sit there and keep on getting beat in the head? Give somebody else an opportunity to come in and do something. Unfortunately, the other guys that came in, they didn’t get it rolling neither so it was a team thing.

“So we’ve all got to be better at it, myself included.”

Right before halftime, the Ignite used a 9-0 run to make the halftime deficit 15 points. Moments after the second quarter buzzer, the Mexico City bench was given a technical foul. With that, the Ignite would start the second half with the technical foul free throw.

Henderson would miss that free throw. That would start a third quarter that elapsed 32 total minutes featuring two official reviews for a flagrant-one and landing space foul as well as Ignite guard Marcus Graves picking up a technical foul. That would go down as the second technical foul for the home team as guard Pooh Jeter picked one up in the first quarter.

“[The Capitanes] scored 40 points in the third quarter ,” Hart said. “The first and the third quarters were absolutely horrendous. We’ve got to learn how to start the game better and then after halftime, we have to learn how to manage it and be more consistent on defense.”

Henderson led all Ignite players with 21 points on 6-of-16 shooting to go along with seven rebounds and six assists. He did make one of the team’s two three-pointers on the night despite 22 attempts.

“You could blame it on legs,” Hart said. “But that’s more on the law of averages. We made 18 the other day? It always equals out, we weren’t going to make 18 today. I thought we had some good looks, we were just bricking.”

Guard Cameron Young added 14 points off-the-bench, reaching double-figure scoring for the 14th time in 16 total games played this year. Center Eric Mika recorded 14 points as well on 7-of-13 from the field while hauling in eight rebounds.

Forward Leonard Miller returned to the lineup and posted 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting off-the-bench.

Three other players scored in double-figures for the Ignite for a total of seven for a third straight game. Forward Shareef O’Neal added 11 points, the aforementioned Graves matched his output while guard Sidy Cissoko poured in 10 points of his own.

Center Efe Abogidi missed his third straight game as he continues to nurse a right knee strain. Guard London Johnson (hand) also missed his second straight contest.

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