The Texas Legends (10-10) entered their holiday season on a high note Saturday night, defeating the Sioux Falls Skyforce (8-11) 122 to 119. The Legends got the best of the Miami Heat affiliate, guided by a 42-point second quarter as well as another all-star showing from Justin Dentmon.
Dentmon came down from his 45 points on Thursday evening at Rio Grande Valley but still managed to lead all scorers with 31. The Texas point guard has an impressive streak of four straight games with at least 31 points going, averaging an incredible 35 points per in the stretch.
On top of his usual dominance, he was efficient as ever. He shot 10-of-17 from the field, drained half of his 10 three-point attempts and made all but one of his seven free throws. Six assists and a pair of steals rounded out yet another stellar stat line.
With Kyle Collinsworth up with the Mavericks, Johnathan Motley has returned to the Legends and posted a 20 point, 13 rebound double-double. Motley also set a new season high with four blocks including a potential game saver on a desperation three-point heave from the Skyforce as the clock wound down.
Both Legends big men double-double’d in the victory as Jameel Warney contributed 17 points and 11 rebounds. Warney’s 10.2 rebounds per game is currently third in the G League.
The remaining two starters for Texas are not actually Legends –or Mavericks– by contract. However, Wade Baldwin IV (read more on the fourth here) and Jalen Jones are on two-way deals with the Portland Trail Blazers and New Orleans Pelicans respectively, neither of which have a G League team. Therefore, both are currently on assignment with the Legends.
With Collinsworth called up and Brandon Ashley, Keith Hornsby and Donald Sloan all sidelined with injuries, the reinforcements are welcome. Jones scored 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds in his team debut. Players new and old continue to stride seamlessly in and out of Coach MacKinnon’s rotation, as noticed by Warney.
“At the end of the day it’s the same basketball court and the same rules,” says the sophomore big. “It’s not that hard to adjust to players. You’ve got to do it on the fly but in the G League guys put those differences away and see how you adjust to it. (Jalen’s) a good player so it’s not that hard to adjust.”
In his fifth game with the team, Baldwin is looking more and more comfortable in Texas blue. He scored 15 points, hauled in five rebounds, dished out four assists and swiped a pair of steals in the win. Dentmon, Baldwin, Warney, Motley and J.J. Avila all acquired a pair of steals.
Avila came off the bench to secure seven rebounds, helping spark a team advantage of 56 to 42 over Sioux Falls. Bryson Fonville led the second unit in scoring with eight and held a plus-10 plus-minus on the floor. Xavier Johnson once again gave the team an extended advantage with a plus-14 mark for himself, leading the team.
A rarity in the sports world, the Legends will be off throughout the heart of holiday season. The team has six days to sip on eggnog and open up presents before resuming play for their 2017 finale on December 30th against the Agua Caliente Clippers (12-8) for a 9 PM CT tip.
In the meantime, the players will get to spend some time with their families over the break. Warney is among many very grateful players for this chance.
“Oh yeah. I’m leaving tomorrow morning early. I’m getting back home at noon. It’s great. I talked to a few of the guys on other teams and they talk about how they’re playing on Christmas. It’s a great thing to be able to go home and spend time with family. I’m really happy to not have a game on or around Christmas.”
As far as gifts go, Warney knows what he wants more than anything. “An NBA contract.” He laughs and adds “seriously just rest. Once you get older you don’t really care about gifts. Spending time with your family is gift enough.”