I know it’s not much consolation, and we certainly hope to meet again after the three more regularly scheduled regular season contests, but the Texas Legends beat their division rivals, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, on Tuesday night in Frisco.
The Legends (4-4) improved to 3-0 in the Southwest Division with a 108-102 over the Houston Rockets affiliate, moving to 3-1 at home in the process. Though the team record stands at .500 through eight games, perfection in the division and one blip on the radar at home is all good news.
Daryl Macon stayed white hot with 28 points on 8-of-17 shooting and made 11-of 12 free throws, including 6-of-6 in the final 1:47 to put the Valley Vipers away for good. The two-way rookie is averaging 24 points a game and 28 is his highest since his 35-point opening night explosion.
Xavier Johnson was brilliant as well, totaling 15 points and 15 rebounds (five offensive) off the bench. Always a shoe-in for hustle plays and being a priceless role player, Johnson is privy to going off like he did Tuesday night.
“It’s just confidence, you know,” Johnson said. “Going into the game, just knowing that we’re not where we’re supposed to be as a team. I think we’ve definitely fallen short three or four games already and I don’t want to make that a habit for the team. I decided to just turn on the jets and get us all going and bring that energy that we needed.”
Johnson played a season-high 29 minutes and was a game-best plus-13 while on the floor. With Ray Spalding and Justin Tubbs inactive, the versatile forward played dominant big man for the night.
“It’s just being consistent. Just do my job, just be a great teammate. Everyone sees that. It’s not always about scoring, especially at this level. At the next level, all you’re gonna be is a role player. So it’s about showing what you can do off the ball and hopefully I can continue doing that.”
Another returning Legend, Keith Hornsby, was very efficient and registered a season-high 20 points (7-10 FG) in just 22 minutes. The third-year player caught fire at the end of the third quarter, scoring a Reggie Miller-like 13 points in four minutes.
Jameel Warney continued to Jameel Warney (it’s a verb now), posting his second straight double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds (four offensive).
Rashad Vaughn resumed normally scheduled offensive programming, scoring 15 points to go along with six rebounds. Codi Miller-McIntyre had six assists and five rebounds and has at least six assists in five of Texas’ eight games. J.J. Avila added seven points (3-3 FT) in the second unit.
Texas squeaked out a six point victory by aid of the charity stripe. The Legends made 28 team free throws to the Valley Vipers’ 13. Led by Macon’s near-perfect 11-of-12 at the line, four other players contributed at least three made foul shots.
28 made free throws is the highest since 25 on opening night at Austin, and the Legends now have 169 made free throws for the season, third in the G League.
I realize it’s November, and we’re just a few weeks into this thing, but the division win puts the Legends in second place in the Southwest behind tonight’s downed opponent, Rio Grande, who are ahead by half a game.
“They’re a great team, a great shooting team,” Johnson said about the Vipers. “I think they missed a lot more shots than usual today, but hopefully we can keep winning and keep containing them when they get hot and do our thing.”
Next up for the Legends is their first Saturday home game of the 2018-2019 season. The Maine Red Claws, affiliate of the Boston Celtics, visit Dr Pepper Arena for a 7:30 PM tip as Texas looks to build a winning streak for the first time in the early campaign.