Updated: Jan 8
Back into the win column for the NBA G League Ignite after splitting a two-game series with the Santa Cruz Warriors from The Dollar Loan Center.
The Ignite took the second half of a back-to-back, beating the Warriors, 136-115, Friday, Jan. 6 from The DLC. Coming into play, the Ignite were averaging nearly 117 points per game.
“It feels great to be able to come back from that road trip,” guard Pooh Jeter said. “That travel day on Wednesday, we went everywhere on that long bus ride so I can understand why we were flat in the last game with no energy.
“We had a film [session] before the game that was crucial. Head coach Jason Hart] lit it up. He was attacking every player. I was happy that we were able to respond.”
After beating Santa Cruz, this year’s developmental group is now 2-2 at home this regular season. In addition, the team now has five more games as part of this season-long seven-game homestand.
Overall, the team is now 4-2 this season heading into another two-game series, this time with the Mexico City Capitanes. That will mark the team’s fifth game in eight days.
“We’re monitoring these guys’ minutes,” head coach Jason Hart. “The fans may say, ‘Put him in the game!’ I’m not doing that, the goal is to get our dudes to the table in the green room [at the NBA Draft].
“So do we try and sacrifice to win every game, every night and play them 40 minutes so they’re limping when they’re drafted? Or understand what this is about so other guys can get opportunities and better themselves and their families.”
Guard London Johnson and forward Leonard Miller sat out after playing in yesterday's game while center Efe Abogidi was inactive for the second consecutive game.
Game one of that two-game set will be played Sunday, Jan. 8 from The DLC. Tip-off is slated for 1 p.m.
A 10-2 Ignite run after the game was tied at 79 apiece was the eventual difference as the home team was able to create some distance. That 10-2 run eventually turned into a 16-6 run that pushed the Ignite’s lead to 10.
Shortly after, the Ignite would close the third quarter on a 21-8 run on the way to a 42-30 third quarter in favor of the home group. In the fourth quarter, the 13-point lead would balloon to 24.
“In that third and fourth quarter we were communicating,” Jeter said. “We showed that unity and togetherness from that wake up call yesterday, we had to come out there and show it.”
To shift momentum in the first quarter the Ignite used an 11-0 run to turn a seven-point deficit into a four-point lead.
After recording just three assists in the first eight-plus minutes of the game but tallied six over the last 2:45 of the opening quarter. By the final buzzer, the Ignite posted 35 assists on 50 made field goals.
“It was the defensive stops,” Jeter said. “We were [getting stops] – [guard Sidy Cissoko] had a huge block. Once we made those stops on defense, now we can go out there and play.”
Guard Cameron Young led the team with 24 points off-the-bench on 8-of-16 shooting. In the team’s last outing, Young was ejected in the second quarter after a hostile act following a dunk.
“I felt like I kind of let the team down yesterday,” he said. “I felt like they could’ve used me having [guards Scoot Henderson and John Jenkins] out. I definitely wanted to come in today and make my presence felt.”
Henderson, recorded 21 points to go along with a game-high nine assists.
“That’s going to be his role in the NBA,” Hart said. “He’s got to make other people better first. Point guard position first, is to make other people better. That’s his job, that’s what he’s going to get paid a lot of money to do.”
Henderson is the projected No. 2 overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft.
Jenkins was the final 20-point scorer for the Ignite, scoring his 20 points on 7-of-11 from the field with four made three-pointers.
“We were able to get our starting backcourt back tonight,” Hart said. “They combined for 41 points and that’s what you get. When you don’t have that, you might get a different result.”
In total, seven Ignite players scored in double-figures including Jeter with 18 points and five made threes. Forward Babacar Sane added 16 points after scoring a season-high 17 in the team’s last contest.
“Remove basketball, he doesn’t even know English,” Hart said. “When we’re coaching him on-the-court and the game is going fast, he doesn’t even really understand what we’re saying. He’s learning basketball terminology before English.” Sane was at the helm of a transition attack for the Ignite that ran away with the fast break points category, 33-4.
“That’s one of them monikers of the team,” Hart said. “‘You can’t be young and slow.’ So if we’re playing against a veteran team in the G and we’re 17, 18 and 19 [years old], we have to run. I rather make mistakes running fast and using our youth to our advantage.”
Center Eric Mika and guard Marcus Graves were the final players in double-figures for the home team with 15 and 12 points respectively.