The first home stand of the adolescent season concluded on Saturday night with the Texas Legends (4-4) defeating the Salt Lake City Stars (1-8) 112 to 110. The Jazz affiliate won in Memphis on Friday night but couldn’t double up in Frisco the following evening.
Justin Dentmon recorded his second 30-point game of the year, hitting 34 with 21 of them coming in a third quarter where he went unconscious from downtown, finishing the game 6-of-10 from deep.
“I stopped thinking,” says the point guard, who also added six rebounds, five assists and three steals. “Early on I was thinking about all the shots I’ve been missing. I looked at film yesterday and I was thinking about all the shots I’ve been missing that have been short. I’m like, I gotta change up. As a player, a scorer like me, I should just play. Mistakes are going to come, I’m going to miss shots and make shots, I just got to continue to be me. Third quarter I just thought ‘I got to be me.’”
And he was very much himself. The Legends held the Stars to just 46 second half points, including a miniscule 17 in the third period compared to their 36, 21 of which came from Dentmon. On both sides of the ball, Texas took control of the game.
“It was all energy and effort. Defense is all effort. You can’t teach effort. Everybody has got to want it. That’s what coach was emphasizing, we just got to want it. We can do all the defensive drills we want but if we don’t put in effort it won’t work. That’s what we did tonight, they made a run but down the stretch I think we just wanted it more.”
As usual, many Legends filled up the stat sheet. And again this included two-way player Johnathan Motley, who picked up 21 points and 14 rebounds. The big man also hit all five of his free throws and blocked two shots.
Off the bench, J.J. Avila once again provided a crucial spark. For the third consecutive game, Avila scored in double figures, this time around posting 11.
“I mean, anytime I’m in there I just try to play as hard as I can,” says the stretch forward. “You never know how long you’re going to be in there so I try to make the most of my minutes. Offensively and defensively, try to do the most I can in those minutes.”
Staying in theme with the impressive second half defense, Avila recognizes it as a point of interest for the team. “Our defense last night (against South Bay) wasn’t very good. We talked about it and in the first half tonight we weren’t that good but in the second half, we really came out in the third quarter and got a lot of stops together. We made a statement in the second half that we can really play defense.”
After four home games following four roadies, the Legends will now hit the road once again for a three game trip. First stop comes on Wednesday night in Rio Grande Valley against the Rockets-affiliated, in-state division rival Vipers (6-3). The team welcomes back Jameel Warney and Donald Sloan from the USA club and tipoff arrives at 7 PM CT.