The Hustle return to the court following last night’s victory over the South Bay Lakers with a rematch for the second night of a back-to-back. The Hustle will look to keep the momentum going following last night’s 122-103 victory, while the Lakers look to get revenge. For the Hustle, David Roddy was recalled by the Grizzlies but they were able to get Kennedy Chandler and Xavier Tillman on assignment to join Jake LaRavia, Kenneth Lofton Jr. and Vince Williams Jr.
For the Lakers both two-way players are available in Scotty Pippen Jr. and Cole Swider. Joining the Lakers two-way duo is assignment player Max Christie who did not play in last night’s contest.
It was a slow start offensively for the Hustle as they struggled to get into a rhythm early against the Lakers defense. The Hustle made just 5 of their first 15 shots, but were able to force some Laker turnovers to take the with just under 5 minutes remaining in the first quarter. The Hustle were able to hold onto their slim lead throughout the quarter as they took a 33-31 lead into the second period. It was a strong first quarter from Dakota Mathias who scored 10 points on 4-6 shooting, including 2-4 from beyond the arc. Kenneth Lofton Jr. chipped in 6 points off the bench for the Hustle to help them take the lead into the second quarter.
The Hustle were able to maintain their slim lead throughout the second quarter behind a strong offensive output from Jacob Gilyard who scored 8 points in the quarter. The Lakers were able to slowly claw back and took a lead late in the quarter as the teams traded baskets throughout a majority of the second period. The up and down game continued throughout the quarter as the teams entered halftime tied at 60. Scotty Pippen Jr. (14 second quarter points) paced the Lakers comeback in the quarter.
Kennedy Chandler paced the Hustle with 13 points and 3 assist in the first half. Dakota Mathias had 12 points, with Jacob Gilyard chipping in 11 points and 3 assists. Kenneth Lofton Jr. dropped in 6 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists off the bench, while both Vince Williams Jr. and Jake LaRavia scored 5 points a piece. Scotty Pippen Jr. led the Lakers charge with 18 points, while Max Christie, Bryce Hamilton and LJ Figueroa each scored 9 points a piece for South Bay. The Hustle forced 13 first half turnovers, but turned the ball over 10 times themselves.
The teams exchanged leads throughout the opening minutes of the quarter, with 5 lead changes in the first 5 minutes alone before the Lakers took a 4 point lead near the midway point of the quarter. The Lakers lead wouldn’t last long, as the Hustle quickly went on a mini run to retake the lead as Kennedy Chandler continued his excellent play offensively. The Hustle run saw them take a 8 point lead just after the midway point of the quarter. Kennedy Chandler was aggressive for the Hustle in the quarter, scoring 6 points and controlling the offense for the Hustle. The Hustle led by as many as 10 in the quarter before the Lakers clawed back to once again tie the game late in the 3rd quarter. The Hustle were able to take a slim 89-87 lead into the 4th quarter in a game that featured 17 lead changes and 11 ties through the first 36 minutes.
The 4th quarter was a tough one for Kenneth Lofton Jr. who picked up 3 fouls in the first 2 minutes of the quarter. The Hustle struggled to start the 4th, force feeding Junior the ball and the Lakers defense collapsed on him creating some tough looks. The Lakers were able to take the momentum and the lead early in the 4th. The Lakes maintained a two possession lead throughout the majority of the 4th quarter as the Hustle struggled to get the consecutive stops needed to retake the lead. The Hustle were able to make it a 1 point game with just over a minute left in the quarter. The Lakers responded with a 3-point possession but the Hustle were able to get the stops in the final minute and tied the game on a pair of Xavier Tillman free throws with 14 seconds remaining. Max Christie hit a tough floater over X with 3.3 seconds remaining, giving the Hustle possession with a chance to go for the tie or the win. Dakota Mathias gets fouled on his game winning 3-point attempt with .2 seconds remaining. Mathias made all 3 free throw attempts and Xavier Tillman Sr. swatted the Lakers game-winning lob attempt into the seats to secure a 118-117 win for the Hustle.
The win sees the Hustle improve to 2-0 in the regular season, sweeping the back-to-back against the Lakers. Kennedy Chandler finished with a career high 29 points and 4 assists. Dakota Mathias scored 22 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals while Vince Williams Jr. chipped in a double-double scoring 15 points and 13 rebounds to go along with 2 blocks and a steal. Kenneth Lofton Jr. finishes the game with 10 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and a block in his first game off the bench. Xavier Tillman scored 8 points and 5 rebounds while being crucial down the stretch with some big defensive plays.
The Hustle will get the weekend off before facing off against the Mexico City Capitanes on Tuesday at 7 PM CT.