The Memphis Hustle (2-0) return to the court after having the weekend off to face off against the Mexico City Capitanes (2-0) in the 3rd and final game of their regular season opening home stand. The Hustle would have the services of Jake LaRavia, Kennedy Chandler, Kenneth Lofton Jr., and Vince Williams Jr. as they battle against Kenneth Faried, Bruno Caboclo and the Capitanes.
Both teams enter the matchup as 2 of the 6 remaining undefeated teams in the G League and would be a good litmus test for both early in the season. The Capitanes won the Showcase Cup series 2-1 against the Hustle. Jahlil Okafor, who dominated in the two Capitanes wins, is no longer with Mexico City after being placed on the injured list and his absence seems to create a better advantage for Kenneth Lofton Jr.
It was a close game throughout the first half of the quarter as neither team could create any sort of separation. The Hustle were able to get some stops and Dakota Mathias hit some shots from beyond the arc to give the Hustle a double digit lead 8 minutes into the game. The Capitanes were able to close the quarter on a 9-5 run to cut into the Hustle lead by the end of the first quarter. The Hustle were able to take a 38-32 lead into the second quarter thanks to a well-balanced scoring effort. Dakota Mathias had 8 points in the quarter, while Junior had 6 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists. The Hustle had 9 of 10 players get in the scoring column in the opening 12 minutes. The Hustle shot 4-8 from beyond the arc in the first quarter, which felt like their best start to a game shooting from beyond the arc this season.
Damien Jefferson made it all 10 players getting in the scoring column in the opening minutes of the 2nd quarter with a nifty layup and then a monster put back slam to extend the Hustle lead back up to double digits early in the quarter. The Capitanes were able to go on a run to cut the Hustle lead back to a 3 point game near the midway point of the quarter before the Hustle were able to make a run of their own to get their lead back up to 8 points but couldn’t quite make it a double digit game again. The Hustle let the Capitanes hang around as Shabazz Napier and Mason Jones led a second run that saw the Mexico City retake the lead late in the quarter. The Capitanes held onto their lead through the first half as they led 67-63 at the halftime break.
It was a strong first half from Jake LaRavia (14 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists) as he led the Hustle in scoring. Dakota Mathias continued his hot shooting this season, scoring 11 points on 3-6 shooting from beyond the arc. Vince Williams Jr. (9 points, 4 rebounds) and Kenneth Lofton Jr. (8 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists) played well for the Hustle with Kennedy Chandler contributing 4 points, 3 assists and 2 steals throughout the first half. The Hustle defense just couldn’t slow down the Capitanes offense as Mason Jones (17 points), Shabazz Napier (14 points) and Gary Clark (12 points) scored in double figures for Mexico City. Rebounding was an issue for the Hustle in the first half as they gave up 8 offensive rebounds that lead to 19 second chance points, with 11 of those points coming in the second quarter.
The Hustle used some fast break opportunities to briefly retake the lead early in the 3rd quarter as both offenses pushed the tempo in the second half. The Capitanes were able to quickly respond as they maintained a one possession lead throughout a majority of the quarter. The Hustle used some hustle plays (pun intended) by Justin Bean to take a 90-85 lead late in the 3rd quarter. The Capitanes finished the quarter on a 10-4 run to take a 95-94 lead into the 4th quarter.
The Hustle were able to tie things up early in the 4th as the teams traded baskets like they have all night. The Hustle were able to take a 5 point lead over Mexico City midway through the 4th after getting some big stops on the defensive end. The Hustle run continued into the waning minutes of the game as Justin Bean made some big time plays as the Hustle took a double digit lead with just under 4 minutes remaining in the game. The Hustle closed the game on a 19-4 over the final 8:15 of regulation to take a 128-113 win. The win sees the Hustle improve to 3-0 in the regular season as they hand the Capitanes their first loss of the year.
Vince Williams Jr. had one of his best games with the Hustle as he scored 20 points on 8-10 shooting and chipped in 9 rebounds and 5 steals. Jake LaRavia scored 20 points on 7-16 shooting and added in 3 rebounds and 3 assists. Junior had an impressive all-around game scoring 18 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals for Memphis. It was a steady game for Kennedy Chandler who had 10 points, 5 assists and 3 steals facilitating for the offense. Dakota Mathias continued his streak of games with 2+ makes from beyond the arc as he had 16 points on 4-9 shooting from deep. Justin Bean had 11 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks but also made a ton of plays that don’t show up in the box score.
The Hustle hit the road for their next 4 matchups starting with a back-to-back in Frisco, Texas against the Texas Legends.