The Hustle return from the All Star Break with a matchup against the Austin Spurs. The Hustle will play the Spurs tonight and on Friday as they near the end of their 7-game home stand. The Hustle (6-11) enter the matchup after defeating the Stockton Kings last Thursday. The Spurs (6-7) enter the matchup after snapping their 2-game losing streak against the Salt Lake City Stars last week.
The matchup is a big one for both teams, as it gives the Hustle a chance to move up a few games in the standings, while the Spurs have the opportunity to put some distance between themselves and the Hustle as both teams fight to get in the playoff picture.
The Hustle had just 8 available players for tonight’s matchup as Tyrell Terry (foot) joins Freddie Gillespie (ankle) and Sean McDermott (knee) on the injury report, with both Yves Pons and David Stockton not currently with the team. Meanwhile the Spurs had the availability of both of their two-way players in Joe Wieskamp and Devontae Cacok.
Both offenses were flowing early in this one, with the Spurs shooting 4-5 from beyond the arc in the opening minutes of the game which helped them take a 16-14 lead by the midway point of the quarter. Shaq Buchanan went on an offensive tear in the first quarter, scoring 15 of the Hustle’s first 23 points as they took the lead later in the quarter. The Spurs were able to respond with a run of their own as they took a 31-30 lead into the second quarter.
Both teams traded baskets to start the second as neither team could get a stop. Neither team could pull away, as the Spurs maintained a 1 or 3 point lead throughout a majority of the quarter. The Hustle were able to tie things up at 50, but the Spurs ran off on a 6-0 run to give them a 56-50 lead with 2 minutes left in the first half. The teams traded baskets to wrap up the quarter, with the Spurs taking a 63-57 lead into the halftime break.
It was a great first half from Shaq Buchanan who had 15 points and 4 rebounds. Damien Jefferson chipped in 11 points off the bench for the Hustle.
The Spurs came out on fire to start the second half, going on a 14-2 run as they made 6 of their first 8 shots to take an 18 point lead in the first 3 minutes of play in the quarter. Damyean Dotson was dominant in the quarter for the Spurs, scoring 15 points in the first 6 minutes of the quarter. The Spurs offensive dominance continued throughout most of the 3rd quarter as the Hustle struggled to get the stops necessary to get back into the game. The Spurs scored 49 points in the quarter on 73% shooting, capped off by Nate Renfro buzzer-beater from half court.
Both teams traded baskets throughout most of the 4th quarter in what was a pretty uneventful final 12 minutes of action. The Spurs won 142-116.
Defensive communication was lacking. The Hustle defense didn’t communicate to their usual levels, which was a key factor in the Spurs run in the 3rd quarter. It was a major point of emphasis for Jason March all game long, but the Hustle just couldn’t get it together.
Ahmad Caver is back. Caver struggled shooting the ball in his return from injury but seems to have gotten things back in order the last couple of games. He flirted with a triple double once again tonight but was more aggressive trying to score the basketball. He finished shooting 9-20 from the field, with a lot of heavy action for him in the second half.