Memphis Hustle 122 @ Stockton Kings 119
Memphis Hustle 118 @ Rio Grande Valley Vipers 135
- Hustle fall in 2nd round of G-League playoffs
- Dusty Hannahs signs 10 day contract with the Grizzlies
Round 1 Breakdown
- Markel Crawford- 28 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals
- Dusty Hannahs- 26 points
- Yuta Watanabe- 23 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks
- Kyle Casey- 15 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks
- Nino Johnson- 10 points, 13 rebounds
The Hustle won one of the most exciting games I’ve watched in the first round of the playoffs against the Stockton Kings. With Yuta Watanabe the lone Grizzly sent down to help out the Hustle, things looked grim as Yuta had to play a majority of the time at point guard instead of his usual forward spot. The Hustle trailed by 12 early before jumping out to an 18 point lead in the 3rd quarter. However, the Kings came back in the 4th to regain the lead. Both teams traded clutch baskets until Jay-R Strowbridge drained a 3 with just 1.9 seconds remaining to give the Hustle the win. It was Strowbridge’s only make in 6 attempts from the floor. It was incredible the Hustle were able to play as well as they did with the limited number of bodies (Tyler Harvey and Tarik Phillip both missed the game with injuries). Crawford and Hannahs stepping up when the Hustle needed them, and the unlikely hero in Strowbridge winning the game had all the storylines of a great night.
Round 2 Breakdown
- Dusty Hannahs- 32 points, 3 steals
- Jevon Carter- 23 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists
- Yuta Watanabe- 13 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists
- Markel Crawford- 11 points
Unfortunately for the Hustle, the hot streak wouldn’t continue when the traveled to face off against the RVG Vipers on Saturday night. The Hustle got extra help as Jevon Carter and Julian Washburn were sent down to the Hustle, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a hot Vipers team. Hannahs went off in the game, but got inconsistent shooting from nearly all his teammates. With Phillip and Harvey still out, and the rest of the team exhausted from traveling and last minute prepping, I wasn’t shocked the Hustle lost the game but I was surprised by how badly they got beaten. The loss stings, but the Hustle can look back at the season and be happy with how it ended up.
58: Dusty Hannahs led all scorers in the playoffs through the first two rounds with his 58 total points. With the Hustle eliminated, it’s likely someone else will eventually score more than Dusty’s 58 but it was still good to see Dusty go off the first weekend of the playoffs.
1: Dusty also led the G-League in free-throw percentage during the regular season, shooting a ridiculous 92.6% from the charity stripe. Dusty was just 2.3% on his overall field goal percentage from being just the 2nd player in G-League history to be in the 50-40-90 club. Simply put, Dusty was quite efficient.
2: The Hustle ranked second in the G-League playoffs in points per game (120) and 3 point percentage (46.4%) and 3 point makes per game (16). Unfortunately, the Vipers led the playoffs in all those categories which is what led to the Hustle bowing out in the 2nd round. Still, the Hustle’s offensive potency, without two of their better players for both games, was on full display. As long as the roster remains somewhat in tact next year, the Hustle figure to be a high powered offense again next season.
52: Doral Moore was a surprising model of consistency for the Hustle this season. Moore played in all 52 games (50 regular season, both playoff games). Only 14 players played in all 50 regular season games for their team and Moore was one of them. With Nino Johnson, LaQuinton Ross, Kyle Casey and Ivan Rabb missing time due to injury, playing with Team USA and the Grizzlies, having Moore down low every game was a nice luxury Brad Jones could rely on.
MVP of the Week - Dusty Hannahs
Dusty averaged 29 points for the Hustle in their two playoff games and played with an aggressiveness that fired up his entire team. Hannahs’ play in the postseason, as well as the past two regular seasons for the Hustle, helped him earn a 10-day contract from the Grizzlies as a reward for his growth.
Playoff Grade - A
With the Hustle shorthanded going into Stockton, I thought they stood no chance against a solid Kings team. When they went down 12 early, they could have easily folded and called it a year but instead fought like hell to come back and win. The loss to the Vipers hurts, but after watching the Hustle’s fire, heart and determination in Stockton makes up for the Vipers loss. All in all, Brad Jones did an excellent job with the team this year especially considering all the roster maneuvering.
End of Season Review
The Hustle won a franchise record 28 games, made their first playoff appearance and got their first playoff win. Sounds like a pretty good year to me. Brad Jones and his staff were able to guide this team to the playoffs, despite the fact that they played 23 different players on the season and had terrible injury luck as the season wound down. The Hustle were a bad road trip East from being in the running for a top 4 seed in the playoffs this past season. With Yuta Watanabe, Jevon Carter, and Julian Washburn being available or unavailable on any given night, it was nice to have Markel Crawford, Dusty Hannahs and Tarik Phillip ready on a nightly basis to carry the team.
A championship would have been nice to have, but the G-League is all about progress and every player on the team got better as the season went on. I don’t think you can ask for much more than that, especially for a franchise that has only been around for two years and only had one player roll over from the inaugural season.
Thanks again to all the Hustle players, coaches and staff for everything over the past season. Personally, I’ve had a ton of fun covering the Hustle the past two seasons and they are a main reason why. If you didn’t make it out to Southaven this past year, I highly suggest making the trip next year.