After a difficult road trip, the Texas Legends were more than due for a break out performance. Several new arrivals helped the Legends to a dominant win over the Austin Spurs. A pair of assignees from the New Orleans Pelicans –Frank Jackson and Kenrich Williams– the return of Jameel Warney, and the debut of offseason acquisition CJ Leslie gave coach Bob MacKinnon a lot of toys to play with Friday night.
The result was a blowout victory over the division rival Austin Spurs. The Legends (7-11, free slurpees!*) used a 46-point second quarter and 41-point third to down the Spurs (9-7) by a final of 137-110.
It was hard to tell, given the stellar performance, that the Legends were operating with a new unit.
“This morning, I came into the locker room for shootaround and we had a lot of new faces in there,” J.J. Avila said after the team’s seventh win of the season. “It’s a lot of guys that know the game, know how to play and we came in and all just played really hard and moved the ball around.”
The second quarter score was 46 to 20, the home team taking complete control and maintaining it through the final buzzer. Austin was held to 35 total points in the first half while the Legends burst their way to a season-best 137 points. It was the second time they’ve hit 130, the other coming against Salt Lake on November 9th.
The win puts the Legends at 5-2 at home and 4-0 on Fridays. Under the lights, they’re undefeated.
Nine (count em, nine!) Legends scored at least eight points, three capping 20. Daryl Macon led the way with a game-high 26 points. He also had a season-high 13 assists and tied a season-high seven rebounds, flirting with a triple-double in another big performance.
Jackson returned after a pair of games with the Pelicans and had 20 points, while fellow New Orleans assignee Williams stuffed the stat sheet to the tune of 11 points, five rebounds, four assists, four steals and a block.
Rashad Vaughn made 8-of-11 shots and 5-of-7 three’s for 21 points, while Kostas Antetokounmpo had 15 points. Vaughn and Avila, who drew a spot start in place of Ray Spalding, had three steals apiece.
Avila, who also had eight points and five rebounds, was a plus-28 in 14 minutes.
“We put up 137 points and held them (to 15) in the first quarter,” Avila said. “We all came in and played defense. That’s the biggest part of all these games. We’re gonna score points and move the ball around, but playing defense is the biggest thing and we all came out and did that tonight.”
Macon was a plus-29, and the Legends starters had an average plus-minus of plus-25. Leslie was a plus-14 off the bench in his Texas debut, adding nine points and three blocked shots.
Keith Hornsby scored 14, continuing his hot start to year number three, and Warney had eight points with five rebounds and four assists.
The Legends sizzled their way to 57 percent shooting (55-96) from the field and an equally impressive 54 percent (15-28) from beyond the arc. They also missed just one free throw in 13 attempts as a team.
With the game in hand, the Spurs ran their score up past triple digits, but by all measures were victim to a Legends team in much need of a victory. The Legends led by as many as 40 in the third quarter and now lead the season series with Austin 2-0 after a road win on opening night.
Three new faces were added to a constantly rotating roster shuffle so far in the 2018-2019 season, but it was a non-factor as the Legends shot their way to a season-high in points and scored more points in two individual quarters than the Spurs totaled in the first half.
Avila has been one of the few mainstays on the roster, but credits the big night to a simple factor.
“I mean, it’s just guys that know how to play the game. When you get guys that know how to play basketball together on the court, regardless of whether they know each other, it’s just playing the game.”
A win under their belt, the next step is building a streak of the good kind. The wait won’t be long as the brand new Delaware Blue Coats (6-9), affiliate of the Washington Wizards, meet up with the Legends for the first matchup between the two franchises on Saturday night at 7:30 PM CT.