After clinching a playoff spot on Tuesday against the SLC Stars, the Hustle returned home for their season finale against the OKC Blue. With a matchup already set with the Stockton Kings on Wednesday, it was a pretty meaningless game for the Hustle. However, the Blue need a win to stay in contention for a first round bye in the G-League playoffs. Since the Hustle’s playoff matchup was set, the Grizzles recalled Jevon Carter, Tyler Dorsey, Yuta Watanabe, and Julian Washburn from the Hustle to be with the Grizzlies in Orlando.
The Blue jumped out to an early 10 point lead on the shorthanded Hustle, but Tarik Phillip helped the Hustle come back into the game midway through the first. The Blue responded after the Hustle cut the lead to just 4 with a run of their own. After a couple more mini-runs from both teams, the Blue finished the first quarter with a 39-30 lead over the Hustle. Tarik Phillip led the Hustle with 11 points in the quarter, while Doral Moore chipped in 8 points off some monster dunks. Scotty Hopson led the Blue with 11 points of his own.
The Blue maintained their close to double-digit lead most of the second quarter, as the Hustle fought hard but seem to be just too undermanned against the Blue. Tarik Phillip went down with an injury midway through the quarter, leaving Jay-R Strowbridge as the only true point guard active on the Hustle roster. With Phillip out, the Blue were able to extend their lead to as much as 15 late in the quarter. Ultimately, the Blue finished the first half with a 67-52 lead over the Hustle.
Going into the second half, the Hustle announced Nino Johnson as out with a back injury and Tarik Phillip as questionable with a leg injury. The Blue extended their lead to 20 early in the quarter as the Hustle just couldn’t keep up. The Hustle couldn’t get any stops defensively and started forcing things offensively, causing the Blue to jump out to a 26 point lead late in the quarter. A small run by the Hustle late in the quarter helped them cut the lead back under 20. The Blue finished the 3rd with a 92-75 lead over the Hustle
The Blue were able to regain their 20-point lead early in the 4th and were able to respond to any sort of run the Hustle made. It was a mostly underwhelming quarter as both teams traded baskets seemingly waiting for the game to end. Dusty Hannahs and Markel Crawford got to pad their stats late in the game as the Hustle ultimately fall to the Blue 120-96.
Hannahs led the Hustle with 20 points, while Markel chipped in 18 points of his own. The absence of all the players with the Grizzlies, plus losing Tarik Phillip in the 2nd quarter, was just too much for the Hustle to be able to defeat a strong Blue squad.
The Hustle’s next game is a single-elimination matchup against the Stockton Kings in California. The game is set to tip off at 9 PM so get ready to stay up late to cheer on the Hustle.