Ignite under .500 for first time after latest loss to Mad Ants
In the second game of a back-to-back the NBA G League Ignite fell victim to the fast-paced offense of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, losing to them for a second straight time.
Fort Wayne got the better of the Ignite, 121-114, Tuesday, Jan. 17 from The Dollar Loan Center. With the loss, the team is under .500 for the first time during the regular season.
“I’m so proud of the young guys,” guard John Jenkins. “These guys are teenagers playing back-to-backs against grown men. You can not overlook that at all. I’m very happy about our effort.”
That concluded a season-long seven game homestand for this year’s NBA developmental group. During the stretch, the team went 2-5. Now the team is 3-6 at home this season.
Back-to-back road games against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers are next on the ledger for the Ignite. The first game is set for Friday, Jan. 20 from the Bert Ogden Arena with tip-off slated for 5:30 p.m.
Eight of the team’s next nine games will be on the road.
After a quick 7-0 run by the Ignite to start the game, the Mad Ants captured their first lead of the game with 6:15 left in the first quarter. By the end of the first quarter, the lead had grown to double-digits.
“We have to talk [on defense],” guard Sidy Cissoko said. “We’re playing against the best team in the G League right now. I think we have to talk in every game like this – we did better than the first game but I think we can do more.”
A 10-2 run by Fort Wayne early in the second quarter ran the team’s lead to 18 points on the way to a 21-point first half lead.
Entering play, the Mad Ants led the G League in points per game (125.4), assists per game (31.7) and field goal percentage (51.4%).
“[It was good for] our guys to see the level of pace they run with their offense,” head coach Jason Hart said. “The consistency in which they do it and the way they pay attention to detail.”
Jenkins finished with a team-high 26 points on 10-of-15 from the field including three made three-pointers. Amidst the comeback attempt, Jenkins nailed a deep two-point jumper to bring the hole back to single-digits.
“John’s been consistent offensively since day one,” Hart said. “He’s a quiet guy but he’s talking a little more now which we need.”
Cissoko also weighed in on the value of having the former six-year NBA player on the roster.
“He has great experience in basketball,” he said. “He’s played overseas, he knows how to win games. When he was in Spain, I was literally watching him play. I appreciate what he’s doing for the young guys everyday.”
Projected No. 2 overall pick Scoot Henderson added 22 points on 5-of-14 shooting to go along with seven assists. His seven assists were tied with center Eric Mika for the team-high.
“He’s continuing to grow each game,” Hart said. “He’s learning so now we’ve got to teach him how to schmooze the referees.”
Late in regulation, Henderson went down favoring his left ankle after taking a hard fall. He’d return to his feet before limping to the other end and ultimately being removed for the remainder of the game.
“He’s getting everybody’s best shot,” Jenkins said. “But he knew that, he got that last year too. He’s well-prepared, he’s built for everything coming to him. It’s great for him to experience it now because he played against two or three guys who have NBA experience.”
Cissoko was the third and final 20-point scorer, reaching his 20 points on an efficient 8-for-10 from the field. In the team’s last outing, he scored a career-high 21 points.
Forward Leonard Miller didn’t score his first points of the game until early in the third quarter before finishing with eight points on 4-of-6 shooting.
Reserve guard London Johnson added 12 points off-the-bench along with 10 bench points from fellow guard Cameron Young. Mika also contributed 10 points from his starting role.