When the Portland Trail Blazers assigned rookie draft pick Gary Trent Jr. to the NBA G League Texas Legends, they definitely expected him to produce. The former Duke Blue Devil has gone above and beyond expectations, and served up a Legendary coup de grâce on Friday night in Frisco.
In the final moments of a game tied at 133, Trent Jr. stepped back from the right wing and drilled a 3-pointer, giving the Legends (13-22) a 136-133 win over the Sioux Falls Skyforce (22-13).
“I just wanted to knock the shot down,” Trent Jr. said after his heroics. “It was kind of funny, before the play I asked the defender guarding me if he thought I could make it and he said ‘no, you’re not gonna score on me.’ I said alright. It was a little challenge and that always keeps me going.”
The Legends jumped out early on the Miami Heat affiliate, leading by nine after 12 minutes. Trent Jr. made 14-of-25 field goals and 6-of-11 3’s to finish with 39 points, besting his previous season-high of 37 from Wednesday.
“The hard work I put in was easy to show, but more importantly the team and the coaching staff gave me the ability to come down here and be Gary Trent Jr. When I came here there wasn’t guys turning shoulders, everybody came in with open arms.”
Like Trail Blazers youngsters Wade Baldwin IV and Caleb Swanigan before him, the transition to an affiliate hours across the country felt remarkably seamless.
“It was great. It was the perfect situation. I’m blessed that I had the opportunity to come down here and play with a great coach and great players.”
Trent Jr. also made all five free throw attempts and grabbed seven rebounds. In six games with the Legends, he has 33 or more points in five and averaged an electric 33.3 points per game with 30 total made 3’s.
The 37th overall pick in last June’s NBA Draft has battled some injuries since the summer league, but came to the G League with a purpose and is soon-to-be back on the NBA stage.
“My mindset was just to get back into the swing of things. I haven’t played a real, actual game since summer league before coming down here. So it was simply just going out there, playing hard and showing people what I can do. Just play to the best of my ability and play my game.”
Off the bench, Trahson Burrell tied the second-best G League point total of his young career with 24 points. He made 10-of-15 shots and 4-of-7 3’s, also adding seven rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Kostas Antetokounmpo re-entered the first unit and scored 18 points, his highest output since December 10th. He also registered a near season-high with 12 rebounds and hit 8-of-10 free throws. All five Texas starters scored in double-figures.
For the second consecutive game, Xavier Johnson finished with exactly 12 points and 12 rebounds. He had six boards on both the offensive and defensive glass, the former a season-high for the emerging sophomore pro.
Speaking of 12’s, Xavier Rathan-Mayes had 12 points and 12 assists, also grabbing seven rebounds for himself. In addition to a whole lot of crooked numbers, “XRM” also had two blocks. He’s on nightly triple-double watch when he enters the gym.
In his second game with the Legends, former Celtics and Lakers player Vander Blue had 11 points. Keith Hornsby had 10, Josh Newkirk added six and Donte Ingram four.
The Legends shot a white hot 44 percent from downtown (14-32) and used a last second three to take home the victory in dramatic style.
An eventful night ended in fireworks, and those thirsting for more basketball need not wait. The Legends pick things right back up Saturday night at home at 7:30 PM CT against the South Bay Lakers (12-21).