The calendar may have reset, but Justin Dentmon is still partying like it’s 2017. The Texas Legends (12-10) began 2018 triumphantly, defeating the Salt Lake City Stars (3-21) 115 to 109. Dentmon tied his fourth-highest scoring total of the season with 35 points, recording his 10th game of 30 or more points on the year.
With a 29.1 average, there’s no end in sight to the domination from the Legends point guard.
“My confidence is at an all-time high,” Dentmon says after another big game. “The last time I had confidence like this was when I was with the Austin Toros (2011-2013) and in Lithuania (2013-2014). It’s just confidence and the coaches believing in me. When coach says he’s going to give me the keys to the car and let me drive, that’s saying a lot. He’s letting me run the team and be a leader. I’m a vet so that comes with the territory.”
Dentmon also dished out six assists and has had six or more in four straight games. There’s no concerted effort to pile up this particular statistic, it simply comes with the game.
“I think it just comes with being aggressive and drawing attention away from the defense. I always try to get assists and tell my big men they need to shoot that pocket pass when I pass it to them. When they hold it too long that assist goes away. They’ve been doing a great job of that and others guys have been making shots so it just comes with what the defense gives me.”
Additionally, one of the best pocket pickers in the league was at it again. In a game with just eight total steals, Dentmon managed three of them to round out a 2.5 average per game, good for third in the league. Oh yeah, five rebounds too.
As impressive as one point guard’s 35-point night is (and it is very much so), a perfect mark from the free throw line with 14 attempts is nothing to ignore. Wade Baldwin IV went to the line 14 times on Tuesdaynight and made every single free throw, fueling his 18 point game.
A brewing three-headed point guard monster was able to make its first appearance as Donald Sloanreturned from a seven game absence to join Dentmon and Baldwin for the first time. He played 15 minutes off the bench with eyes on an expanded role in the team’s next game on Saturday.
All five starters scored in double figures, a common occurrence with Bob MacKinnon’s club. Center Johnathan Motley and Jameel Warney showed why they’re both top five rebounders in the G League, grabbing 11 and 10 respectively. The point totals for the two were 21 and 12. Motley also blocked three shots for the second time this season.
Rounding out the starters and scoring 12 points was Jalen Jones. He’s reached double digits in each of his four games with the Legends, fitting in seamlessly and getting more comfortable with each outing. He also grabbed nine rebounds and is averaging seven with the team.
Plus-minus maestro Xavier Johnson led the team with a margin of plus-9. In 14 games with the Legends, the rookie has given them a positive court advantage in all but three of them. He did it against Salt Lake in 19 minutes with seven rebounds.J.J. Avila added six points, six rebounds and a plus-8 impression of his own.
The Legends have now played 15 road games (to just seven at home) but are indeed over .500 with an 8-7 mark. Going into the 2017-2018 season, Dentmon pointed out that taking care of business early with a heavy road schedule would bode well for the team’s fortunes.
“I think that we’re a better away team than home team,” he says sardonically (the Legends are 4-3 at home). “We need to take advantage of this month with all of the home games and roll it into February. We’ve got the Showcase coming up after our home game Saturday and it’s going to be another long road trip but we can handle it. We’ve just got to stay healthy and handle our bodies.”
That home game Saturday is the entirety of the home stand as the Legends take on the Midwest Division leading Iowa Wolves (11-9). Texas won at Iowa handily on December 3rd, 125 to 100. Tipoff arrives at 7:30 PM CT.