After an East coast road trip and seven of eight games away from Dr Pepper Arena, the Texas Legends (8-9) returned to Frisco’s friendly confines and defeated the Oklahoma City Blue (8-9) by a final score of 118-116. This one needed all of its 48 minute run time, but the Legends were able to snap a mini skid of two losses and win the first of their back-to-back home games.
Going down to the wire, it was the recently named USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year that helped Texas secure the close victory. Jameel Warney brought down two crucial offensive rebounds late in the fourth –both times putting in a second chance basket– as part of his monster 33 point, 15 rebound (seven offensive) effort. He made 16-of-18 shots and had recorded his seventh double-double of the season by the end of the third quarter.
After yet another remarkably efficient showing containing giant numbers, the only players that proved able to bump Warney off the rebounding block were the charging swarm of kids seeking his autograph postgame.
G League leading scorer Justin Dentmon was his usual self. Dentmon finished with 31 points, ending a “drought” of two games without hitting 30, one in which he notched a simple 29. Top four in steals as well, he swiped four more against the Thunder affiliate and tied a season high with nine assists.
Assists were going around for the Legends on Friday night, with Kyle Collinsworth adding 11 of his own along with 14 points and six rebounds, filling the stat sheet once more and achieving his fourth straight double-double, this time pairing points and a season-high assist total.
Speaking of Baldwin, his first home game in a Legends uniform was a rousing success. Baldwin signed a two-way contract with the Portland Trail Blazers this past off-season but because Portland has no G League affiliate, he’s found a home in the meantime with Texas. In his home debut, Baldwin played 37 minutes and scored 17 points while dishing out seven assists. A stout defender, he added a pair of blocks and steals. Additionally, his plus-20 led the club.
“It was really good,” says Baldwin after the win. “I thought it was very important for me to bring my defensive intensity, my defensive effort to the game. I thought I did that for the most part. Incredible how I missed that many free throws, though. I don’t think I’ve ever missed that many free throws in one game in my life. I’ll be shooting about 100 free throws at some point tonight.”
Baldwin is a point guard on the depth chart, but like new teammates Dentmon and Collinsworth, he can slot in at multiple positions due to his flexibility and versatility on both sides of the ball.
“Playing with these perimeter guys, you know JD has an unbelievable ability to score the ball. Kyle is a point forward, point wing, he’s always in the right place. It makes it easy. We’re three guys that love playing in space, making plays and having fun.”
His time with the Legends is to be determined, but while he’s here he’s certainly embracing the fit as much as the team is embracing his presence.
“I fit in perfectly. We do what we do on offense and defensively I want to be a tone setter. Perimeter wise getting deflections, getting on the break and starting the break is my ticket to play in the NBA.”
Baldwin and the Legends are right back at it Saturday night against the Northern Arizona Suns (7-9). Tipoff takes place at 7:30 PM CT.