Saturday night saw the Texas Legends’ (20-12) seven game win streak come to an end, and there’s only one way to respond after any loss: win. An early tipoff in Memphis against the Hustle (12-20) provided the Legends with such an opportunity and they took advantage, defeating the Grizzlies affiliate 117-106.
“I don’t think we were too focused on the loss in Iowa,” Donald Sloan said after the 11-point win. “If we had a couple bounces go our way and made a couple more shots, it’s a different game and you’re talking about being 9-0 right now. But we didn’t really focus on it. We’ve lost before. We’ve had stretches where that’s happened and at the end of the day, we just got to get back on track.”
The two men in the middle —Johnathan Motley and Jameel Warney— both grabbed 10 rebounds to enforce double-doubles. Motley scored 28 points, Warney had 20 and pulled down five offensive rebounds. They combined to shoot 21-of-33 (64 percent) and both bigs continued to stroke the three ball, knocking down an attempt of two.
While the big men hit the glass, the two Legends starting guards were busy feeding their teammates. Wade Baldwin IV and Donald Sloan dished out seven and five assists respectively. Sloan added 18 points and four rebounds, Baldwin 15 and five. Both multipurpose backcourt players also swiped a pair of steals.
Afternoon games are certainly not uncommon in basketball and the Legends have played two games at 4 p.m. or earlier this season. However, 10:30 is their earliest start time and beats the next closest tip by a good 90 minutes.
“It reminds me of AAU,” Sloan laughed.
Brandon Ashley rounded out the double-digit starters with 16 points. Jalen Jones added eight points and nine rebounds off the bench while Xavier Johnson delivered a stat-stuffed performance in just 14 minutes. He chipped in seven points on 3-of-3 shooting, six rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block while posting a team-best plus-minus of +12.
The early hour flipped a gameday on its head. Instead of prepping all day in anticipation of a usual evening tipoff, players received an early wake up call.
“We got in pretty early last night and had team dinner. Once we got back and settled I tried to make sure I was asleep by 12. That way I could get at least seven hours of straight sleep, wake up around 7:30 and get myself going before the departure from the hotel at 8:30. It worked a little bit but I could still tell there was a big difference in the time. We ended up getting the win and that’s all that really matters.”
After two games away from Dr Pepper Arena, it’s back home for a pair. First is a matchup with the Chicago affiliated Windy City Bulls (13-17) at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, February 2nd, regardless of any Groundhog Day revelations.