Saturday, March 3, 2018

The Hustle Dispatch: Week 16

Posted By on Sat, Mar 3, 2018 at 6:59 PM

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Only two matchups this gameweek as the Hustle splits results.

Reno came to town at the perfect time. Not to be outdone by their NBA counterparts, the Memphis Hustle were mired in the midst of a five game losing streak when The Bighorns came to Southaven. The newest episode of The Late Show with Marquis Teague aired on Saturday with two big free throws to give Memphis the win. While the subsequent loss against the South Bay Lakers brought any hint of momentum to a stop, the madcap, crazy, and chaotic bout against the Bighorns showed the fight this team still has in it.

Throughout the course of the game, the Hustle and the Bighorns ceded no ground to each other. When the dust settled, there had been 20 lead changes and 16 ties, while neither team ever led by more than seven points. With the Reno frontcourt duo of Jack Cooley and Jakarr Sampson putting out mammoth performances, the Hustle needed to put on a team clinic to stay competitive, and that’s exactly what they did. Each member of the starting lineup scored at least 14 points, allowing Memphis to fight through Reno’s domination in the paint and keep pace with Cooley and Sampson’s offensive efficiency.

Teague led the Hustle again with 24 points on 11-19 shooting, with the final two go-ahead buckets coming with just 3.1 seconds remaining in the game. Omari Johnson nabbed his 5th double-double of the season with 19 points and 11 rebounds, while Dusty Hannahs had an all-around performance with 14 points, four assists, and four rebounds. Austin Nichols pulled eight rebounds to go with his 17 points, and Jeremy Morgan had an efficient shooting game with 19 points from eight of his 12 shots. Off the bench, J.J. Frazier had his best performance in a Hustle uniform with 10 points and five rebounds. This game was a throwback to the early Hustle season, where the team would consistently churn out incredibly close, nail-biting results.

Against the South Bay Lakers, regular Hustle shortcomings reemerged. Throughout the season, Memphis hasn’t really quite been able to manage a game when taking a large lead, and that’s exactly what happened here. The Hustle blazed out of the blocks, building a 15-point lead and ending the first quarter at 34-21. Chance Comanche led the charge early, scoring nine points off the bench in the first frame. However, offensive production fell in the second quarter. South Bay consistently hit its shots, ending the quarter at 62-55. From there, the Lakers really got into their stride, pulling away in the third quarter to seize a 101-85 lead. In the final frame, the Lakers hit several threes to ultimately put the game out of reach for the Hustle at 125-116.
For the second game in a row, Marquis Teague did his best to keep the Hustle competitive by claiming a double-double with 28 points and 10 assists. Omari Johnson also gave a stellar performance with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Chance Comanche ended up with 17 points off the bench, while Jeremy Morgan scored 13. Beyond that, however, there wasn’t enough depth to make a dent in the Lakers’ lead.

At 16-26, the Hustle will end the season with a losing record. There are only eight games left, so now's a good time to end on a high and provide some building blocks for next year, when the players and the organization will have more experience under their belts. In terms of roster news, the Hustle recently signed Kuran Iverson, who played two seasons of college basketball at University of Memphis, via waiver claim. Kuran's most recent G-League experience came earlier this season with the Raptors 905. Next up for Memphis is an away game in Prescott Valley, Arizona, against the Northern Arizona Suns.

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