The 2018 NBA G League All-Star Break has come and gone and for the first time in 9 days, the Texas Legends (23-16) played some basketball. On a wet Wednesday evening in Frisco, the Legends concluded their four game regular season swing with the Austin Spurs (24-15), defeating their division rivals 134-123.
The Legends entered the matchup two games back of Austin in the Southwest Division, a pivotal win bringing that gap to a single game with 11 to play. With a win, they also win the season series over the San Antonio affiliate three games to one.
Many new faces entered the mix as the Legends resumed the “second half” of their schedule, but it was a familiar face that led the charge. Jameel Warney scored a game-high 33 points on a brisk 15-of-20 shooting performance. He also grabbed six rebounds, as did Brandon Ashley, who had 11 points.
“I was just being who I am,” Warney said after his heroic effort. “I’ve been kind of struggling the past few weeks offensively and not being aggressive, so I finally got back to that. My teammates put me in a great position to do what I do best. I’m happy I had 33 points but I’m more happy we got the win.”
Both Dallas Mavericks two-way players were on hand in the victory. Jalen Jones scored 29 points, 22 of them coming in the game’s first 18 minutes. Like Warney, Jones was extremely efficient on a high dosage, connecting on 12-of-17 field goals as well as two of three three’s. The team was +18 during his game-high 39 minutes, which he and Warney both played.
No Spurs player had a +/- better than +3 while the Legends had three players with double-figure advantages in Jones, J.J. Avila (+16) and Johnathan Motley (+10). Motley posted the game’s only double-double, collecting 23 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and made all seven of his free throw attempts.
Avila contributed a full spread off the bench with six points, five rebounds and four assists whileKeith Hornsby continues to regain his pre-injury form. Hornsby had 13 points in 18 minutes and drilled a four-point play at the third quarter buzzer, a period the Legends dominated by the score of 42-26.
You may have noticed a pair of fresh faces in the lineup as the Legends made some roster moves over the break.Donald Sloan has accepted a deal with the playoff-bound Guangdong Southern Tigers in the Chinese CBA, and in his place, the team brought in Duke Mondy and Damon Lynn.
Mondy drew the start and slotted right into coach Bob MacKinnon’s rotation, dishing out 11 assists and scoring nine points, immediately notching 30 minutes. Lynn had eight points and four assists off the bench as new players continue to settle in nicely alongside Warney and company.
“When you’re in this league, you’re playing with people who play the game well,” said the Legends star big man. “It doesn’t matter where they’ve been, if you’re playing here, you’re playing in the second best league in the world. Everyone is good. I’m impressed with how Duke and Damon handled their first game. They made the game fun and helped us a lot.”
The Legends shot a sparkling 61 percent from the field and 48 percent from beyond the arc, putting it to the second best defense in the G League and eclipsing the Spurs opponents scoring average by 32 points.
A call-up has yet to come for Warney and yes, we’re all waiting with bated breath, but in the interim he continues to dominate the G League with maximum effort.
“The Texas Legends are my family. I hold this organization well in my heart. I go out everyday and try to play for this organization and play for the people in this organization because I love them dearly and they love me. That helps me everyday to know I’m one of the best players in the league and keep going.”
Thursday is a practice day for the Legends before a back-to-back on Friday and Saturday at Dr. Pepper Arena. Friday delivers a matchup with the Phoenix affiliated Northern Arizona Suns (18-19). The Legends lead the season series 1-0 and tipoff arrives 7:30 p.m.