Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Hustle Dispatch: Week 11

Posted By on Thu, Jan 18, 2018 at 3:31 PM

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The Hustle pull out the performance they needed, but succumb to old habits.

On their last game of the showcase, the Memphis Hustle players finally showed what they were capable of on the court. In Mississauga, Ontario, the Maine Red Claws were treated to a storm of quick drives, layups, and monster jams as the Hustle finally snapped a four-game losing streak.

While it got off to a slow start, Memphis showed grit to overturn a nine-point deficit after halftime. With Maine leading 63-52, the Hustle outscored the Red Claws by almost 20 points in the second half (72-56, exactly). There a few principal architects of the comeback, starting with Marquis Teague. He hustled and harried the opponent, forcing bad passes and turnovers, one of which leading to a fast break devastatingly finished off by Austin Nichols (who had 17 points on the night off 7-12 shooting). Then, in the second half, Teague’s production picked up. He consistently drove past Maine’s feeble defense into the paint, either putting up layups or drawing defenders to create chances for teammates. When the defense did lock him down, he made some contested shots anyway.

A huge boon to the teams attacking effectiveness was Trahson Burrell’s performance, who dished out 11 assists. That, coupled with 15 points and 11 rebounds, meant that the forward recorded the franchise’s first-ever triple-double. Finally, the third tip of the trident was Myke Henry, a Grizzlies two-way player signed just five days ago from the Oklahoma City Blue. Henry led the charge down the home stretch, scoring 15 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter. His basket was what helped Memphis regain the lead with just under five minutes of the game remaining. When Maine made a three-point shot to retake the lead at 115-112, Henry immediately responded with two threes of his own on the Hustle’s next two possessions. As the final cherry on the cake, Jeremy Morgan drew a charge from Maine’s Anthony Bennett, which saw the Red Claws center foul out. Overall, an auspicious start for the Hustle’s newest player. If he can make these kinds of late-game contributions on a semi-consistent bases, the Hustle should be much better at seeing out close games, an issue they continue to struggle with.

In their next game against the Texas Legends, however, the Hustle continued their trend of following a win with poor shooting performances from key players. Trahson Burrell went 3-9, Kobi Simmons went 4-15, and Myke Henry failed to build on his Hustle opener by going 5-15, making only 3 out of his 10 three point shots. In the middle of the first quarter, Texas went on a 14-2 run and never relinquished the lead from there, leading 60-50 at the half. The Hustle eventually brought the deficit down to just three points, but with a minute left to play, former Grizzlies guard Wade Baldwin IV sank from long range to seal the game and send the Hustle home with a loss.

Consistency is still missing for this team, who at times appear unable to put together a good string of results. The team leaders need to step up and lead by example through tough times, with the Hustle only having one once in their last six games. Next up for Memphis is the Oklahoma City Blue away.


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