Friday, March 23, 2018

The Hustle Dispatch: Week 19

Posted By on Fri, Mar 23, 2018 at 4:57 PM

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The Hustle ride a winning wave as the season winds down

There have been long stretches of trouble during this inaugural season in the G-League, but the Hustle’s past few performances have given fans hope that the team can push on stronger for next year. With two wins in the bag from gameweek 19, the Hustle can look to make it five on the bounce to close out the season against the South Bay Lakers and Texas Legends. Before that, though, Memphis had to blow past the Windy City Bulls and then square up to the number one seed in the West, the Austin Spurs.

Another day, another Marquis Teague clutch play to seal a victory. The contest wasn’t always tight, however. The Bulls secured the first quarter with a 30-20 lead, but the Hustle didn’t let that faze it. The game stayed close until the third quarter when, at 62-60 in favor of Windy City, the Bulls embarked on a 19-0 run to put clear daylight between the two teams. Memphis refused to lie down and steadily chipped away at the lead, with Myke Henry coming up with some key baskets, including a three-pointer to take the lead at 103-102. Henry’s layup also tied the score at the end of regulation, sending the game into what would be a double overtime.

In a series of personal escalating contributions, Henry pulled out another key layup at the buzzer for the first overtime period, tying the game at 117-117. The Bulls took the lead again in double overtime, but after Windy City’s C.J. fair missed a free throw with 8.9 seconds left, the Hustle refused to call time out. Teague attempted a 21-foot jump shot and drained it as time ran out, giving Memphis its first overtime win.

Throughout the game, the Hustle had the edge in the paint, with Memphis out rebounding the Bulls 52-37 and winning the second-chance points matchup 17-7. In the fourth quarter, Memphis also took better advantage of possession changes, turning four Bulls turnovers into 10 points, while Windy City failed to capitalize on Memphis’ mistakes.

Four of the Hustle starters scored in double digits, with Marquis Teague leading the team with 28 on 13-26 shooting, all while adding eight assists. Chance Comanche scored 24 on 11-14 shooting, while Dusty Hannahs nailed four three’s and made three free throws to snag 15. Omari Johnson added 18 points with nine rebounds.

Victory over the Bulls was impressive, but the Austin Spurs would provide a much sterner test. Austin towered over the Western conference with a 31-17 record, but Memphis came out guns blazing, erecting a defensive wall that held Austin to just 18 points in the first quarter while Memphis put up 29.

The Spurs, however, showed their high-profile pedigree and eased their way back into the game, closing the deficit over the course of the second quarter and built up to a healthy lead at 75-66 in the third. Not to be outdone, the Hustle strung together a 20-3 run to garner an eight point lead, but Austin again made a comeback attempt. With the Hustle’s lead cut to one, Marquis Teague stepped up yet again with an and1 that ultimately put the game out of reach for the Spurs. Memphis’ win meant they took the season series against the West’s best team 2-1.

The Hustle was good value for its win. While many of the points were spread around the team, Omari Johnson led with 25 points, while Myke Henry and Marquis Teague provided 21 and 17 points, respectively.

The win against Austin made it three wins in a row for the Hustle, who have a chance to end the season on a five-game win streak. That would make their final record more respectable, as well as give a sense of accomplishment to the young franchise. Next up, the Hustle play their final home game against the South Bay Lakers before closing the season in Frisco, TX, against the Texas Legends.


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