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The Hustle Report: Pushin P(layoffs)

The Hustle, 8-2 in their last 10, have a big week to make a playoff push

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Memphis Hustle vs Rio Grande Valley Vipers Photo by Christian Inoferio/NBAE via Getty Images

Week 11 Results

Salt Lake City Stars 112 at Memphis Hustle 124 (12-16)

Rio Grande Valley Vipers 131 vs Memphis Hustle 139 4OT (13-16)

Rio Grande Valley Vipers 126 vs Memphis Hustle 128 OT (14-16)

Game 28 Breakdown

Salt Lake City Stars v Memphis Hustle Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Key Stats

  • Shaq Buchanan- 21 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists
  • Ahmad Caver- 21 points, 7 rebounds, 11 assists, 1 steal, 3 blocks
  • Santi Aldama- 20 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks
  • Yves Pons- 19 points, 8 rebounds
  • Sean McDermott- 17 points, 3 rebounds

The Hustle returned home to the Landers Center following their 7-game road trip with a single game against the Salt Lake City Stars. The Stars, down to just 7 available bodies, put up a fight put couldn’t outscore a suddenly potent Hustle offense. Carsen Edwards (35 points), Jared Wilson-Frame (28 points) and Yoeli Childs (27 points, 16 rebounds) put up great efforts for the Stars but the lack of depth helped propel the Hustle to victory. You can check out my full recap here.

Game 29 Breakdown

Memphis Hustle vs Rio Grande Valley Vipers Photo by Christian Inoferio/NBAE via Getty Images

Key Stats

  • Shaq Buchanan- 34 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals
  • Santi Aldama- 33 points, 16 rebounds, 2 steals
  • Ahmad Caver- 16 points, 5 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 steals
  • Damien Jefferson- 15 points, 3 assists
  • Sean McDermott- 12 points, 5 rebounds

The Hustle and Vipers set G League history on Saturday night as the first game to go to four overtime periods. The Hustle prevailed thanks to ending the game on an 8-0 run in the final OT. The Hustle were able to overcome 30 points from NBA vet Gerald Green thanks to strong scoring outbursts by Shaq and Santi. The Hustle dominated the paint, outscoring the Vipers 82-50 in the game. It was a wild game, fitting in just right with March Madness, as the game had 27 lead changes and 15 ties.

Game 30 Breakdown

Memphis Hustle vs Rio Grande Valley Vipers Photo by Christian Inoferio/NBAE via Getty Images

Key Stats

  • Ahmad Caver- 29 points, 12 assists, 2 steals
  • Santi Aldama- 28 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists
  • Shaq Buchanan- 20 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals
  • Yves Pons- 16 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals

The Hustle won another thrilling contest against the RGV Vipers on Monday night. The Hustle were dominant in the first half, building up a 31 point lead before a furious 4th quarter comeback by the Vipers sent the game into overtime. Fortunately for both teams and fans alike, this one only took one extra 2-minute period to determine the victor as the Hustle swept the Vipers in the RGV. The Hustle outscored the Vipers 76-40 inside the paint, but the Vipers were dominant from beyond the arc making 24 of 51 shots (47.1%) and out scoring the Hustle 72-27 from deep. It was a huge win for the Hustle who were able to cling to victory despite the strong offensive output from Marcus Foster (31 points) and Anthony Lamb (27 points).

Hustle Stats

Memphis Hustle vs Rio Grande Valley Vipers Photo by Christian Inoferio/NBAE via Getty Images

23: Ahmad Caver has gotten a steal in 23 of his 25 appearances in the regular season this year. Nicknamed the Cookie Monster, Ahmad has been living up his nickname this season. Caver not only has been a pesky defender getting loose balls, but he’s been extremely physical without fouling and holding his own despite being listed at 6’2” and 174 lbs.

47.8%: Sean McDermott really struggled with his 3-point shot last season with the Hustle and Grizzlies. McDermott went 14-44 from deep with the Hustle in the bubble and 5-22 from deep with the Grizzlies. The 28.8% (19-66) is well below the expectation for the sniper in his rookie year. After missing most of the season with a knee injury, McDermott is making up for lost time from deep this season. In 7 games, McDermott is shooting 47.8% (11-23) from beyond the arc and overall looks extremely healthy coming off a serious injury. McDermott’s 3-point shot could become a key factor in the Hustle playoff run.

Assignment Tracker

Memphis Hustle vs Rio Grande Valley Vipers Photo by Christian Inoferio/NBAE via Getty Images

Santi Aldama: Aldama continues to be huge for the Hustle on his assignment. Aldama helped lead the Hustle to a 3-0 week averaging 27 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2 steals and a block per game. Aldama shot an efficient 55.7% from the field but was streaky with his 3-point shot as he went 3-10 from beyond the arc. Aldama has been great defensively as well, racking up a ton of steals and blocks as the back line of the Hustle defense. At this point, Aldama has proven to be too good for the G League but should continue to get minutes with no clear path to playing time with the Grizzlies at the moment. Aldama was recalled by the Grizzlies last night, but that is likely with the Hustle back in Memphis with a few days off before Friday’s game against the Texas Legends. Aldama’s performance earns him his first MVP of the Week Honors for the Hustle Report.

Yves Pons: In last week’s Hustle report, I harped on Pons’ 3-point shooting. Pons responded with a great shooting week as he shot 5-7 (71.4%) from beyond the arc and 19-29 (65.5%) from the field. Pons didn’t force 3-point shots and was fantastic attacking and finishing around the rim. Pons averaged 15.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in the 3 games for the Hustle in arguably his best stretch of the season. His athleticism and high jumping ability helps him on both ends of the floor and as he gets healthier, the better he has played.

Week 12 Preview

Memphis Hustle v Texas Legends Photo by Jim Cowsert/NBAE via Getty Images

Texas Legends vs. Memphis Hustle 3/25 7:30 PM CT

Rio Grande Valley Vipers at Memphis Hustle 3/28 7:00 PM CT

Stockton Kings at Memphis Hustle 3/29 7:00 PM CT

Game 31 Preview: The Hustle will wrap up their last regular season road trip of the season, staying in Texas to face off against the Legends. The Hustle split the Showcase game against the Legends in Southaven, but defeated the Legends in the regular season behind a 40-point performance by Shaq Buchanan. Newcomer Moses Wright has been excellent for the Legends in his 7 games with the team (22.9 points, 11.1 rebounds) while Carlik Jones (21.7 points) continues his excellent G League season. The Hustle will also likely get their first look at Justin Jackson, who missed all 3 games earlier this season. A win in Texas on Friday will be critical to how the Hustle season ends as the Legends are one of the teams right above the Hustle in the Western Conference Standings.

Game 32 Preview: The Hustle will return home to wrap up the regular season with a 3-game home stand starting with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. The Hustle, currently 4-0 on the season against the Vipers, have a tough task ahead as it is extremely difficult to beat the same team 5 times in a season. Throw in the fact that the Vipers have been one of the best teams in the G League all season long makes the 4-0 record impressive but also difficult to rely on another win. The Vipers have lost some key players from earlier in the year to playing time with the NBA Squad but Marcus Foster, Anthony Lamb and Gerald Green still form a dynamic trio for RGV. If the Vipers get Trevelin Queen and Mfiondue Kabengele back by Monday, the table will be set for another thriller between the Vipers and Hustle.

Game 33 Preview: The Hustle will then turn around and play the Stockton Kings on Tuesday. The Hustle have had success against Stockton this year, going 2-0 in the first two matchups. NBA vet Quinn Cook (22.7 points) has been excellent since joining the Kings, with Neemias Queta averaging nearly a double-double when he’s on assignment from Sacramento. The injury to Domantas Sabonis and Richaun Holmes being out for personal reasons could open up minutes with the NBA squad for Queta. If Queta stays with Stockton, he’ll be set up for a fun battle down low with Santi Aldama. Aldama won’t get a break when Bobby Jackson goes to his bench either, with Emanuel Terry an imposing threat in his own right.

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