Photo: From left, Timmy Allen and GG Jackson II eye a possible rebound during third quarter action Monday night between the Memphis Hustle and Mexico City at the Landers Center. (Bob Bakken/desotocountynews.com)
The Memphis Hustle met the Mexico City Capitanes Monday night for the second straight time in the NBA G League Showcase Cup. Mexico City rebounded from Sunday afternoon’s 105-101 loss to handle the Hustle 124-104, buoyed by a 31-17 advantage in second quarter scoring. Mexico City improved to 2-3 in the Showcase Cup standings while the Hustle dropped to 2-5. Here’s a recap of the contest.
FIRST QUARTER: HUSTLE 34, MEXICO CITY 32
Kenneth Lofton Jr., joining the Hustle with Vince Williams Jr. as assignment players, led Memphis with 11 points in the quarter and was the only player in double figures. Michael Carter-Williams led Capitanes in scoring with 8. An apparent three-point shot at the end of the quarter that would have put Capitanes ahead was waived off as being after the buzzer. The Hustle led the entire first quarter and had as much as a six-point lead at one time.
HALFTIME: MEXICO CITY 63, HUSTLE 51
Mexico City came out strong in the second quarter and at one time had a 17-2 run to start the period. Ethan Thompson led Mexico City with 12 points, Michael Carter-Williams had 11 and Ruan Miranda followed with 10. Kenneth Lofton Jr. led all scorers with 16 for the Hustle, followed by Vince Williams Jr. and GG Jackson with 10 each. The Hustle shot a meager 37.5 percent from the floor in the half.
THIRD QUARTER: MEXICO CITY 89, HUSTLE 73
The Capitanes continued to hold a double-digit lead throughout the third quarter, with Michael Carter-Williams leading Mexico City with 15 points. Carter-Williams was supported by four other players in double-digit scoring. Ethan Thompson and Trey Burke scored 14 through three quarters of the game, Diego Bernard had 13 and Ruan Miranda had added 10. Kenneth Lofton Jr. paced the Hustle’s efforts with a game-high 21 points, followed by GG Jackson with 15 and Vince Williams Jr. with 12. Adonis Arns had 13 points off the bench. The Capitanes had as much as a 21 point lead in the period. Mexico City was shooting 43.6 percent from the floor through three periods while the Hustle had mustered 36.7 percent shooting.
FOURTH QUARTER: MEXICO CITY 124, HUSTLE 104
Trey Burke sparked the Capitanes in the final quarter, finishing with 28 points to lead Mexico City for a second-straight night. Burke was one of six players, including all five starters, to score in double figures. Ethan Thompson tallied 23, Michael Carter-Williams 17, Alexy Borges came off the bench to finish with 15, followed by starters Diego Bernard with 13 and Ruan Miranda scored a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Memphis, outscored 35-31 in the final frame, finished with Kenneth Lofton Jr. scoring 23, GG Jackson had 21, and Adonis Arns came off the bench for 20. Vince Williams Jr. poured in 15 points and David Johnson ended with 10. Mexico City’s biggest lead of the night was 22 points to the Hustle’s six-point bulge early in the game.
POST-GAME COMMENTS FROM HUSTLE COACH JASON MARCH
ON PLAYING THE SECOND NIGHT OF A BACK-TO-BACK: It was very ugly, especially early, for both teams, honestly. Thirty-four points for us and 32 for them in the first quarter showed very little defense was being played and very little physicality. From there, our defensive effort dropped and we looked extremely tired, in my opinion. No excuse whatsoever, but we looked tired, they looked tired. Our offensive effort looked nonexistent and we looked very unlike what we usually are. Sometimes that happens when you add two other guys but those guys (Lofton and Williams) played their tails off and they were exhausted after their Grizzlies game last night. I’m pleased that we kept trying to compete. We set a goal to try and get it into single digits in the fourth quarter and we got it to 13 and then they hit a three and right back to 16.
ON LOFTON AND WILLIAMS’ ADDITION TO THE LINEUP: Vince’s defensive effort in the first quarter was unbelievable. He got some tough calls early but that got him in foul trouble and I had to get him out which I hated to do because he was ready to play. He set a little bit of a tone for us and then the calls got him out of the game and that hurt us a little bit. It was great having both of those guys with us. The goal is development and sometimes it is just getting out and playing minutes instead of being in a practice. Those guys were extremely winded but they battled through it.
ON PLAYING AT BIRMINGHAM SUNDAY AND HOME TO AUSTIN TUESDAY: We’ll get back in the gym and get after it. Birmingham’s playing really well. They’ve a very good team and we’ve got to be ready to play or they’ll embarrass us, especially after a long break. We’ve got to be sure we’re ready to go when we get there and then we come home to play Austin and then we just keep ticking them off. We’re going to continue to get better and I know that with this group. We’ve got a great group of guys who want to compete and that’s the biggest thing. I don’t see anyone dropping their head and that type of stuff. Everyone’s falling in together and playing the right way, or trying to. We’re going to be fine.
NOTES: Matt Hurt of the Hustle remained out of the lineup with a broken left hand. Jake LaRavia was also out with an eye abrasion and Jason Preston also did not play due to what was termed as groin soreness. Among the deletions for Mexico City was Nate Pierre-Louis, who was hurt in the Sunday afternoon game. Pierre-Louis was left off with him being in the concussion protocol after striking his head on the floor Sunday trying to grab a rebound. He was taken from the arena by stretcher and was checked out at a hospital. Kenneth Lofton Jr., one of the top players in the NBA G League last season, was returned to the Hustle roster for the first time Monday night. Lofton had been on the parent Grizzlies roster but was placed back on the Hustle roster on assignment. Vince Williams Jr., a two-way player with the Grizzlies, was also on the Hustle roster Monday night. Both Williams and Lofton started for the Hustle.