On a night where drama wasn’t exactly in store (TNT would not be thrilled), Texas Legends (15-11) point guard Wade Baldwin IV did his best to give the crowd some thrills. Outside of a very early advantage, the Memphis Hustle (11-18), G League affiliate of the Memphis Grizzlies, trailed for the duration of Tuesday night’s Texas win.
A final score of 119-109 didn’t leave much room for heart-pounding theatrics, but Baldwin nevertheless supplied fans with a pair of clutch buzzer-beaters at the end of the third and fourth quarters.
“There was a little luck sprinkled in,” Baldwin laughs. “It’s 2018.”
Buzzer-beaters are a player’s best friend. It’s hard to look bad taking a shot you really don’t have any choice but to. That doesn’t make it easy. “It’s a hard shot. You have to focus on the release, the surroundings. Every shot is tough.”
For the second time as a member of the Legends and the first time since the calendar flipped over, Baldwin reached 30 points. A season-high four three-pointers guided him to a game-best scoring total on 9-of-13 shooting. He made four of six from downtown and also knocked down eight free throws.
“I’m feeling good. It’s nice to see four three’s go down. That’s the first time that’s happened since college. Hopefully I can build off this game for the rest of the season and furthermore.”
30 point games aren’t very easy.Justin Dentmon only makes it look that way. But in Bob MacKinnon’s uptempo offense, Baldwin is realizing offensive potential that has been there all along.
“I haven’t had a lot of 30-point games. It’s the second time this season and third time in my life I’ve scored 30 points. That’s a good accomplishment for me. My teammates find me and had trust in me that I would hit the open three.”
The Legends are now a season-best four games over .500 and have won three in a row as well as an impressive eight of 10.
“More important is the wins and the chemistry with the guys here. We had a lot of fun tonight. We had a lot of fun during showcase. It’s a grind being in the G League. It’s not easy so to make the most out of it is just fun.”
Not far behind Baldwin was Johnathan Motley with yet another humongous game. Motley posted 27 points and 17 rebounds and is averaging 24 points and 15.2 rebounds over his last five. It’s only a matter of time before he’s given the chance to carve out a rotation role with the parent club Dallas Mavericks.
Fellow super-big Jameel Warney scored 21 points with eight rebounds and knocked down a three ball. Brandon Ashley flirted with a double-double at 11 points and nine rebounds but did tie a season-high with three blocks.
Donald Sloan looked more like healthy Donald Sloan, scoring 18 points and handing out six assists. His plus-minus of +16 led all competitors.
Tuesday was only the Legends’ 10th home game –ninth at Dr Pepper Arena due to a showcase home game– to 16 road games so far and ties with the Northern Arizona Suns for least in the G League, but the team has more than carried its weight away from home. Returning home to a warm welcome helped the Legends continue their hot play.
“I love playing home games,” says Baldwin, who co-led the team with Sloan at six assists. “Like I said, the G League is tough because of the travel schedule. You know, 4AM, 5AM, 7AM flights. Here, after the game, we go back to where we stay so we’re comfortable. We wake up at a good hour and all that. So I love home games. I love the support we get in Frisco and the Dallas area in terms of the fans. It’s one of the best in the G League.”
The season-long five game home stand continues on Friday at 7:30 PM CT against the Grand Rapids Drive (14-14), affiliate of the Detroit Pistons. It’s the only time the two teams will meet in the 2017-2018 regular season.