The Hustle return home following Friday night’s overtime win against the Austin Spurs. The Hustle enter tonight’s matchup against the Mexico City Capitanes (8-5) on a two game win streak with both wins coming in overtime. The Hustle won both games without the help of any assignment players or two-way transfers but would have some reinforcements tonight. Fresh off a 9 point, 5 assist night last night against the Miami Heat, Kennedy Chandler was sent down to play in tonight’s game with the Hustle to help continue his development. Both Kenneth Lofton Jr. and Vince Williams Jr. join Chandler with the Hustle as the Grizzlies have the night off. The Hustle would be without the services of Damien Jefferson (25 points on Friday) with him out due to a hip injury.
The Capitanes enter the matchup on a two game win streak of their own after sweeping a series in Birmingham against the Squadron. The Capitanes are a NBA vet filled team with key players in Jahlil Okafor, Gary Clark, Alfonzo McKinnie and Bruno Caboclo amongst the names NBA fans would recognize. The Capitanes would be without guard Shabazz Napier who is missing tonight’s matchup with a nose injury, but former prospect Mason Jones is prime to pick up the slack and continue his dominance of the G League.
It was all Capitanes early as they jumped out to a quick 7-0 run in the opening minutes of the game as Jahlil Okafor went to work in the post. The Hustle were sluggish on both ends of the court as the Capitanes jumped out to an 18 point lead early on the Hustle who struggled initially on both ends of the court. The Hustle were able to respond with back to back triples late in the quarter to close in on the Capitanes lead. The Capitanes were able to respond to the Hustle run as they used 10 points from Jahlil Okafor to take a 36-22 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Capitanes opened the second quarter on a 6-0 run and found themselves up 20 minutes early in the quarter. The Hustle went on a couple of runs over the next few minutes but the Capitanes hard a response for every run, particularly from beyond the arc. The teams traded baskets with the Capitanes ultimately taking a 67-50 lead into the halftime break.
Vince Williams Jr. shined for the Hustle, scoring 14 points on 5-8 shooting in the first half. Both Kenneth Lofton Jr. and Kennedy Chandler struggled from the field shooting a combined 5-14 with both missing 3 shots from beyond the arc and committing 3 turnovers. The Capitanes dominated the paint, outscoring the Hustle 36-20 thanks to 26 combined points between Jahlil Okafor and Bruno Caboclo.
The Hustle responded with a more solid effort to start the second half as the teams traded baskets over the first 5 minutes of the quarter. The Hustle couldn’t quite cut into the Capitanes lead to start the half, but the execution was much better on both ends. The Capitanes used some hot 3-point shooting in the quarter to build their lead back up to 20 before Kenneth Lofton Jr. hit a few triples of his own to cut the lead back down to 14 late in the quarter. The Hustle were able to cut the lead down to 11 late in the quarter, but a rough final minute had them trailing 93-78 heading into the 4th quarter.
The Hustle continued from their solid end to the 3rd quarter with a run to start the 4th but just couldn’t cut the Capitanes lead down to single digits. It felt like the Hustle were finally on the cusp of making it a single digit game, cutting it down to 11 midway through the 4th but the Capitanes responded with a 9-0 run to extend their lead back up to 20 in quick fashion. That run was the ultimate dagger as the Hustle effort level dropped the rest of the game, giving up a ton of transition buckets as the Capitanes applied the pressure. Jason March was able to get some late fight out of the Hustle in the closing minutes to keep things closer in the end as the Hustle fall 126-112 to the Mexico City Capitanes.
Vince Williams Jr. had his best game with the Hustle dropping 29 points to go along with 9 rebounds and 4 assists. Kenneth Lofton Jr. chipped in 22 points and 3 blocks. Kennedy Chandler had 9 points and 5 assists but also 6 turnovers.
Alfonzo McKinnie had 31 points and 11 rebounds to go along with 3 steals for the Capitanes, with Jahlil Okafor adding 26 points and 11 rebounds as the Capitanes attacked the Hustle defense in the paint and from beyond the arc.
The loss drops the Hustle to 5-6 in the Showcase Cup with just 5 games remaining before the team heads out to Las Vegas.