It was a quick turnaround for the Hustle following yesterdays loss against the Austin Spurs, as they tipped off against the Canton Charge this afternoon. It was a rollercoaster game yesterday for the Hustle, as they were down double digits in the first half before jumping out to a double-digit lead in the second half. Unfortunately for the Hustle, they blew their late double-digit lead, as the offense stalled out and the Spurs got hot from deep. Here’s how their second game went against the Charge.
It was another slow start for the Hustle, as they found themselves down 8 by the midway point of the quarter. The bench unit of Shaq Buchanan, Ahmad Caver and Bennie Boatwright helped the Hustle cut back into the lead a little bit, but the Charge got hot from deep to extend their lead and finish the quarter with a 30-23 lead. The one good thing for the Hustle from the quarter was Jontay Porter making his first appearance in a game for the first time since 2018.
The second quarter was much better for the Hustle, as they were able to come back and take the lead early in the quarter — thanks in large part to their two draft picks in the G-League draft a couple of months ago. Gillespie was excellent protecting the rim for the Hustle and was efficient around the rim. Cowan stepped up with two big three’s that helped the Hustle cap off a 10-0 run. The Hustle were able to jump out to a 10-point lead in the quarter and finished the first half with a 64-57 lead over the Charge.
The Hustle’s well-balanced effort continued in the 3rd, as they were able to extend their lead back out to double digits — thanks to having all 10 players in the scoring column. The Charge were able to go on a small run to cut the deficit back down to 5, but the Hustle were able to respond and push out to a lead as big as 14 late in the quarter. The returning trio of the Hustle in Boatwright, Buchanan and Caver were a big reason the Hustle were able to respond to the Charge run with their high-energy play. The Charge had another mini-run in them, but a Jontay Porter triple at the end of the 3rd quarter gave the Hustle the 91-80 lead heading into the 4th.
The Hustle were able to jump back out and extend their lead to as much as 15 points early in the quarter. The Charge wouldn’t quite go away but the Hustle had a response for every run the Charge made. Sam Merrill was particularly hot in the quarter with a few 3-pointers to help the Hustle maintain their lead. The Hustle would finish the game and earn their first victory of the season with the final score being 114-102.
It was a solid win for the Hustle who had 10 of 11 players get in the scoring column and marked the Jontay Porter’s first game action in over 2 years. Porter finished the game with 5 points, 6 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals in just 12 minutes. Porter took a little bit of time to adjust to the flow of the game but looked comfortable for the most part in the Hustle’s win.
The Hustle were also lifted by Freddie Gillespie’s 2nd double-double in as many days, along with Sam Merrill dropping 20 points and 6 assists. Mavs assignee Tyrell Terry was also productive with 18 points and 6 rebounds. The Hustle also had solid games from Shaq Buchanan, David Stockton and Jahlil Tripp among others as they got their first win of the season earlier today.
Talking with Jason March postgame, he mentioned he was proud of how they moved the ball today and how the extra passes created some open looks for the team. March also mentioned how excited he was to get Porter in the game for his first action in over 2 years, and was really proud of how Porter played in his 12 minutes, especially after everything he’s had to overcome. They’ll ease Porter into the rotation obviously as he gets into game shape.
March also mentioned how he told Merrill to keep shooting after his poor shooting performance yesterday and was glad to see him take the advice en route to a 20 point showing on 8-14 shooting. March also credited the team defense stepping up to limit Antonio Blakeney to just 3 second half points after he had 16 in the first half. He says it is still too early to really be able to make scheme adjustments on the fly defensively, so he didn’t change anything and credits the team and Freddie Gillespie in slowing Blakeney down.
We also got the chance to speak with Freddie postgame who says he is his harshest critic, but that his double-doubles to start the season is a nice start to build on for him. He also mentions that film was a key part in the quick turnaround and improvement in play today to secure the win. He also mentions how he prides himself on the defensive end and credits the team for getting stops.
With games like the past two Gillespie has already gotten the attention of many, including ESPN’s Jonathan Givony who attended the Hustle’s game today.
Good showing from Baylor grad Freddie Gillespie with 16 points, 9 rebounds and great defense in 23 minutes. Looks like he'll be on a two-way or ten day fairly soon. Nice all-around showing from Milwaukee Bucks assignee Sam Merrill too. https://t.co/4cNW0dYW7N— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) February 11, 2021
They Hustle move to 1-1 on the season and will have a few days off before they square up against the Lakeland Magic on Sunday at 2:30 PM CT.