It was an altogether totally dominant performance in the final regular season home game of the Memphis Hustle’s inaugural season. A scintillating shooting night extinguished the South Bay Lakers (28-21) by halftime, and a career night from an unexpected starter fueled the backbreaking run that led to the Hustle’s fourth consecutive victory.
The final score was 141-118, and after a 15-1 run at the beginning of the second quarter, the Hustle (21-28) never looked back. J.J. Frazier scored a career best 23 points on nine of 14 shooting, matching his previous best of 16 points by halftime. He also added a team high seven rebounds, and it would be at this point that it would be important to note that he was smallest player on either roster tonight. The Hustle shot 23 of 42 from three, verifying their third best shooting mark in the league.
The home team broke open the ballgame with incredible first half shooting. The team was 11 of 20 from three in the first half and shot just under 60 percent from the floor. Everyone and their mothers was on fire as six Hustle players had hit a three by the break.
The Hustle led by just 20 points at the half, though they at one point led by 30. An unstoppable 15-1 run to open the quarter stretched the lead immensely. The hot shooting that characterized the first quarter (60+ percent from the field, six of eight from deep) trickled over into the second as Omari Johnson hit back to back three’s to open the quarter.
Good lord the Hustle are raining fire from deep. Omari Johnson with back to back triples and its a 21 point advantage for the home team— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) March 24, 2018
Frazier’s star shone brighter because another’s was not there to overshadow his. Marquis Teague, the normal starting point guard and best non-two-way player on the team, agreed to a 10 day contract with the Memphis Grizzlies in the midst of the game. He therefore did not play, allowing the 5’10 Frazier to start in his stead.
Frazier was not the only Hustle player to step up in Teague’s absence. Shaquille Thomas scored 20 points points, more than tripling his seasonal average and coming up just one make away from his career high of 22. He also added seven rebounds. Johnson, unsurprisingly, shot exceptionally well, scoring a game high 26 points on 10 of 14 shooting, hitting six of nine from three point territory. And Chance Comanche played one of his best games of the season, though you might not be able to tell by the box score. He scored only 12 points, but was a +18 by game’s end.
As mentioned above, those stepping into Teague’s shoes were the ones carrying the load at the half. Frazier tied his career high through 24 minutes with 16 points on seven of 12 shooting. The 5’ 10 guard also had four rebounds. Shaquille Thomas contributed 10 off the bench on 50 percent shooting to go along with a game high six rebounds. Johnson did contribute 13 points on perfect three of three shooting from distance.
No joke, I can confirm through a source https://t.co/AT5x5rlrZ6— Mac Trammell (@Mac_Trammell) March 24, 2018
After 1, the Hustle led 36-23. The team came out hot from three, hitting six of eight deep balls in the quarter. The team shot 62.5 percent from the field and moved the ball well, notching eight assists. South Bay was able to keep things relatively in check by scoring nine fast break points, including consecutive leak out dunks midway through the period.
Dusty Hannahs opened the scoring with a top of the arc triple and finished the quarter with eight points. Frazier was the leading scorer after 12 minutes with a quiet 10 points.
Some big leaguers were in attendance at the Hustle’s final home game. Ben McLemore, Tayshaun Prince, and Grizz all made appearances at the game. The Hustle’s big league team will play South Bay’s major league club tomorrow night at FedExForum.
The Hustle will wrap up its inaugural season against the Texas Legends tomorrow night at 7:30 in Frisco, Texas.