Photo: Michael Devoe of the Memphis Hustle looks to score in Saturday night’s 125-105 victory over the NBA G League Ignite at the Landers Center (Bob Bakken/desotocountynews.com)
The Memphis Hustle diffused the NBA G League Ignite in the first of two weekend games at the Landers Center Saturday night. The Hustle battled with the NBA’s unique concept to ready top young prospects ahead of possible selection in the NBA Draft and came away with a 125-105 victory.
The Ignite is the NBA’s mixture of draft-eligible prospects and veterans which the league hopes will have a better chance to be found on an NBA roster in the future.
What the Ignite may be looking for right now is a win, because Saturday’s loss on “Hustle and Hounds” night set the Ignite’s record back to 1-16 for the regular season. At the same time, the Hustle roster, which Saturday grew to nine players suited up to play, improved their record to 7-7, the first time since early January that Memphis had a .500 or better record.
Cameron McGriff, coming off the bench Saturday, led the Hustle in scoring with 28 points. Adonis Arms hit for 23 and DeJon Jarreau added 20 points among five Memphis players scoring in double figures.
Tyler Smith came off the bench for Ignite and struck for 22 points and John Jenkins and hit for 19 more.
Smith played for a Texas high school before signing his first pro contract with Overtime Elite in 2016. He was ranked among the top 10 prospects in the Class of 2023 before he went pro.
Jenkins is a second-year member of the Ignite. He was a 2012 draft pick of the Atlanta Hawks and has played in six NBA seasons.
For the Hustle, a four-day layoff since their last game Monday night against Santa Cruz showed in the opening 24 minutes of action.
“I thought we were terrible in the first half, to be very blunt,” Hustle coach Jason March said. “Defensively. I mean, we gave up 67 points. We looked like a team hadn’t played in four days.”
The Ignite took a 36-35 lead after one quarter and led 67-62 at halftime. McGriff ended the first half with 13 points and Jarreau scored 12.
The play picked up for the Hustle in the second half, with Memphis having rallied immediately in the third quarter to a 70-67 lead. Jarreau hit a three-pointer as the quarter ended for a 95-87 Hustle lead.
The fourth quarter saw Memphis pull away, outscoring the Ignite 30-18 in the final 12 minutes.
The Hustle defense responded in the second half by allowing 38 points in the entire second half.
“We played with physicality,” March said. “The whole group, all nine players that were available tonight, contributed and we were very pleased with how we responded out of the locker room.”
The 125-105 final score was the largest lead of the game, which saw seven lead changes and six ties. The Ignite at one time led the game by eight points.