After a dramatic come-from-behind win on Wednesday night in Los Angeles, the Texas Legends (25-22) made a quick turnaround of roughly eight hours to face off against the Northern Arizona Suns (21-24), D-League affiliate of Phoenix. The dreaded back-to-back was of no consequence for Texas, as they defeated the Suns 107 to 101.
The Legends committed only 16 team fouls and hit 80 percent of their free throws (20-of-25). Recently they’ve been converting on the majority of their trips to the free throw line and tonight proved no different.
Pierre Jackson tallied eight more assists and has had six or more in every single game of March. He’s averaging 8.2 dimes in nine games so far this month and has the high-powered Legends offense –118.3 PPG ranks second in the league– firing on all cylinders.
“Since I got hurt, I took it upon myself to get other guys involved,” Jackson says. “Just show that I’m obviously more than just a scorer. I can score if need be. We got a lot of great scorers on this team, one of the better offensive teams in the league. I just try to do my best to be a coach on the floor.”
Jackson also picked up his familiar scoring load of 22 points on an economical 7-of-13 shooting. He made all six of his trips to the free throw line and achieved a 4:1 assist to turnover ratio (8:2). Like Jameel Warney and Ben Gordon, he swiped two steals. Leading the fast-paced offense of Coach Bob MacKinnon has been a fruitful endeavor for Jackson.
“I just try to keep everybody happy. Just being a basketball player, some guys get down when they’re not making shots or aren’t getting shots. I just try to keep everybody’s spirits lifted and their confidence up and just find them. They’re doing a great job of putting the ball in the hoop as well as helping me out.”
For the second consecutive game, all five Legends starters scored in double figures and like last night, were accompanied in that category by sixth man Andre Dawkins. Continuing the theme of similarities from the win in L.A. hours before, the two Legends big men dominated.
Stephane Lasme bullied his way to 21 points along with eight rebounds. He made 8-of-15 shots and went 50% from outside.
“Steph, man, he’s pick and pop and defending the rim. He’s been a great addition to our team. Obviously I can’t complain at all. They’re making shots and everyone is happy right now.”
Warney ho-hum’d his way to a monstrous game-high double-double of 23 points and 15 rebounds (seven offensive). He also blocked two shots and picked up two steals. There are few players in the D-League and entire basketball world performing better than Jameel Warney right now.
“He’s easily the best big in the league,” Jackson says of his teammate. “He’s making my life easier. Setting good screens and I’m able to get in the paint and drop it off to him and he’s scoring with ease. You got guys double teaming him now, that’s a huge compliment.”
Jackson’s 23.8 points per game ranks third in the D-League and his 7.6 assists a night also registers third. He is the only player in the top three, let alone the top five, in each category. The all-star point guard is also shooting a remarkable 48.8 percent from the field, 37.6 percent from three and 83.3 percent from the free throw line. 1.9 steals puts the former Baylor Bear star in the top 10 and his 25.4 efficiency rating is second. All these accomplishments are a product of his x’s and o’s approach, according to Jackson.
“When I come in a game, it’s to be fast and get guys shots and make shots when they’re presented to me. Get fouled, get to the line. All that other stuff just comes with playing the game the right away. Coach is doing a great job of pointing us in the right direction when it comes to all that and it’s just our job to execute.”
After wrapping up their longest road trip of the year, the Legends will make a bittersweet return to Frisco for their final home game of 2016-17 regular season. Tipoff against the Austin Spurs (22-24), D-League affiliate of San Antonio, commences on Saturday night at 7:30 PM CT.