Before saying anything more, I’ll just say it: I’m sorry. I truly am. Sorry for not writing any words about the Energy during the last 14 days. And damn! We all, Grizzlies and Energy fans out here, know that in these past couple weeks a lot of things have happened.
I wasn’t doing my Energy homework, true that. And there are no acceptable excuses I can offer right now. But I am going to tell you anyway a few casual things I was doing while the Energy kept scoring points and adding new players to the roster, so you can have an easier time forgiving me: 1) I was tasting Mythos beer in the beautiful and unforgettable Greek city of Thessaloniki with a cool girl who was wearing a sweater which said "Meow", and 2) Proudly wearing my Grizzlies winter hat, I was chopping wood with an ax to make a fire in a hostel in Pristina, Kosovo, where I made some American friends like Joe from Denver, Branden from Connecticut and Chelsea from Texas, who sadly didn’t know anything about the Grizz, but then they learned, after meeting this Spaniard who was pretty sure about it, that this is going to be the Grizzlies’ year.
In between all of those things and more, a lot of Energy's updates happened, so c'mon, let's get them.
1) OKLAHOMA CITY
January 9, Oklahoma City, OK. The Iowa Energy (7-9) against the Oklahoma City Blue (9-10). Energy’s starters were Lucas, Garrett, Wilkins, Owens and Hall.
And things started pretty good for the Energy, scoring 31 and 38 points in the first two quarters against the Blue, They were 11 points up at the half, but the match turned around in the third period. The second half was pure blue as the local team dominated 63-40 to get the win.
The 22 of 42 threes (team record for three-pointers made in a game) couldn’t make it happen for the Energy because they were missing an old basketball fundamental: rebounding. It has been the story of the Iowa Energy during the whole season. When Whiteside was snagging rebounds, the Energy were winning. Then Whiteside was gone, and losses kept coming. Soon after, Famous arrived to dominate the Energy’s glasses once again, and everything was fine. But without Famous against the Blue the leading rebounder for the Energy was forward Damien "Hey guys, I can’t do it all" Wilkins with 8, but Oklahoma still got 16 more rebounds than the Energy in the game.
Best players of the game for the Blue: Semaj Christon with 31 points (12 of 15 shooting), Marquis Teague with 20 points and six assists, and Talib Zanna with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
And best players for the Energy: Damien Wilkins with 27 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists, and Diante Garrett with 25 points (7 of 11 threes) and 6 assists.
January 11, Des Moines, IA. The Iowa Energy (7-10) against the Idaho Stampede (4-17). Energy’s starters were Lucas, Garrett, Wilkins, Owens and Hall.
Good start for the Energy with an early 8-0 lead. And the good shooting continued to get the Energy up 8 points at the half.
At the end of the 3rd, Iowa had extended the lead to 11 points thanks to the 22 points in the period between Lucas and Wilkins, and the match was 86-75 with only the last 12 minutes remaining.
The Stampede played tough in the last quarter and managed to close the game within one point in the final minutes, but the Energy’s defense prevailed and they got the much-needed victory at home.
Best players for the Energy: Kalin Lucas with 31 points (12 of 19 shooting), 5 rebounds and 5 assists, and Damien Wilkins with 26 points.
Best players of the game for the Idaho: Jerrelle Benimon with 19 points and 15 rebounds, and Ta’Quan Zimmerman scoring 24.
January 12, Des Moines, IA. The Iowa Energy (8-10) against the Westchester Knicks (8-13). Energy’s starters were Lucas, Garrett, Wilkins, Owens and Hall.
Still no Famous for the Energy so they knew that only they would have to shoot themselves into a win with no true center on the team.
But things couldn’t begin better for the Iowa, racking up an 18-point lead already in the first quarter. And the Energy kept dominating the game into the half: 58-47 for the home team.
The Knicks outscored 30-25 the Energy in the last quarter, but Wilkins and Owens were simply too good in the game to not get the win, the ninth of the season.
All five Energy’s starters scored in double figures: 30 points for Wilkins (leading scorer once again), 25 for Owens (10 of 15 shooting and 4 of 4 beyond the arc), 22 for Lucas, 10 and 10 double-double for Hall, and 11 points for Garrett.
Best players of the game for the Knicks: Darnell Jackson scoring 20 points and catching 8 rebounds, and Thanasis Antetokounmpo with 17 points and 9 rebounds in just 24 minutes.
January 12, Memphis, TN. The Jeff Green’s trade happened, and we all know how much that means for the Grizzlies. But I also think this Russ Smith guy is a tremendous addition for the Grizzlies of the future, and a very welcomed player for the Energy of the present. So welcome Russ!
Smith (6-0, 165) was drafted by the Philadelphia Sixers in the second round (47th overall) of the 2014 NBA Draft, and he was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans via trade. The 23-year old and former Cardinal played 29 minutes in 6 appearances for the Pelicans this NBA season. And he has also averaged 15.1 points and 5.9 assists on 0.549 shooting in 24.9 minutes in seven games over three assignments for the Fort Wayne Ants in the D-League.
January 13, Des Moines, IA. The Energy just acquired forward and former 2006 NBA Draft fourth overall pick Tyrus Thomas. Welcome Tyrus to the Grizzlies & Energy family!
Thomas (6-9, 225) played most recently with the Charlotte Bobcats (2009-2013) playing in 146 games (34 starts) and averaging 7.5 points, 4.4 rebounds and 0.7 assists.
*January 22 UPDATE: It's official! "The Memphis Grizzlies have Called-Up forward Tyrus Thomas to a 10-day contract, Grizzlies General Manager Chris Wallace announced today."
6) D-LEAGUE SHOWCASE
January 15-19, Santa Cruz, CA. The league’s premiere in-season scouting event, the 2015 NBA D-League Showcase afforded players and coaches the opportunity to flaunt their skills in front of general managers and player personnel executives from all 30 NBA teams.
And the interesting thing was that all Showcase games, with the only exception of the Championship Game on Monday 19, count toward regular season records, so keep the winning mode rollin’, Iowa.
January 16. The Iowa Energy (9-10) against the Delaware 87ers (8-10). Energy’s starters were Lucas, Garrett, Wilkins, Owens and Hall.
Winning four of the last six games, the Energy started strong, getting an early 13-point lead in the first quarter, and never looked back to get the win against the 87ers.
Tyrus Thomas made his debut with the Energy coming off the bench as he scored 15 points and got 5 rebounds in 24 minutes of action. Also coming off the bench, Chris Allen contributed with 17 points. Kalin Lucas and Diante Garrett controlled the game as they filled up the box score with 25, 6 and 6, and 17, 7 and 8, respectively.
Best players of the game for the 87ers: DJ Seeley with 25 points, and Victor Rudd, rebounding leader of the game, with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
January 18. January 16. The Iowa Energy (10-10) against the Erie Bayhawks (7-16). Energy’s starters were Lucas, Garrett, Wilkins, Owens and Hall.
Seth Curry is the official Energy killer this season. He is the leading scorer amongst active players in the D-League, and for this match in Santa Cruz, with his Warrior brother Steph in the stands, he didn’t want to miss the opportunity to show that he too can score the basketball as he had 25 points in the game with 5 of 9 from long range.
Drew Crawford and Jarvis Williams also scored at least 20 points or more for the Erie and they caught 9 rebounds each too, winning the rebound battle and the game with their effort on the glass.
For the Energy, the best player again was the tireless Damien Wilkins, who is always there, and scored 23 points on 8 of 13 shooting. Then, coming off the bench, Chris Allen with 20 points, and Tyrus Thomas with a 13 & 10 double-double tried their best to overcome the deficit on the scoreboard, but they came up just short to win the four game in a row.
c. THE WINNER
The Bakersfield Jam became the first-ever winners of the NBA Development League Showcase Cup with a 105-99 victory over the Grand Rapids Drive.
Archie Goodwin was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player after scoring 22 points with nine rebounds and three steals in the final game.
d. BEST PLAYERS
*2015 NBA D-League Showcase First Team: Earl Barron (Jam), Vander Blue (D-Fenders), Lorenzo Brown (Drive), Clint Capela (Vipers), and Archie Goodwin (Jam).
*2015 NBA D-League Showcase Third Team: Andre Dawkins (Skyforce), Tim Frazier (Claws), JaMychal Green (Spurs), Quincy Miller (Bighorns), and Willie Reed (Drive).
e. HONORABLE MENTION FOR WILKINS
7) ROOKIES ARE COMIN’
January 20, Des Moines, IA. Memphis Grizzlies re-assigned Jordan Adams, Jarnell Stokes and Russ Smith to the Iowa Energy.
So yeah, it’s going to be fun. The Russ-Jordan-Stokes connection is ON. And it's just candy to my eyes.