On the night Jameel Warney was presented his award for USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year, the Legends looked to get back on track against the Oklahoma City Blue. It was a game that they desperately needed having lost four out of their previous five.
Given the Legend’s preferred style of play, the game could not have gotten off to a better start. They forced six first quarter turnovers that lead to eight fast break points, which really set a tone according to Wade Baldwin.
“I just really think it was important for me to get myself going defensively to start off the game and set the tone” He said.
Unfortunately in what was a theme of the night, the Legends inability to guard the three point line would keep Oklahoma City in the game after their initial punch. They would hit five three pointers in quarter one and trail just by one.
OKC would make their push early in the second quarter. They managed to get themselves into the penalty with 8:37 remaining in the half, which effectively slowed the game down to their pace and vaulted them to a six point lead midway through the second period. Texas would answer though, behind Jameel Warney’s impressive 16 point, 7 rebound 1st half they managed to survive the three point barrage by the Blue.
“At times they just made shots.” Assistant coach, and former NBA’er Eric Snow said of OKC’s 18 three point makes, 10 of which came in the first half.
“It wasn’t necessarily bad defense, they just made some tough shots. So, you got to give them credit also.”
The teams would play to a 57-57 stalemate in the first half.
The early portion of the third quarter was a thing of beauty for the Legends. Using the same three point line that hindered them in the first half, the Legends opened the third quarter on a 14-4 run sparked by Wade Baldwin, Kyle Collinworth, and Justin Dentmon.
“Well I feel as though we have three NBA level guards. So it should be good.” Head coach Bob Mckinnon said when asked of his guard play.
Unfortunately, the moment Baldwin and Dentmon checked out for their usual rest, OKC answered right back with a big run of their own using, you guessed it, the three point line. They would completely erase what was a 15 point Legend lead and take a 93-91 lead into the final frame.
The momentum Oklahoma City captured at the end of the third quarter would seemingly carry over, as they opened the fourth on a quick 8-0 run at the expense of the Legend’s bench who struggled all night long.
After a quick timeout by Coach Mckinnon, the reinsertion of Baldwin and Dentmon into the lineup predictably led to a strong response by Texas. The Legends would finally climb the mountain and re-take the lead with just under two to play, this time never giving it back.
Nursing a two point lead with just 1.4 seconds to play, OKC had one last shot to tie or take the lead, but a Markel Brown three at the buzzer didn’t even draw iron and the Legends would hold on to win, 118-116.
The Legends were led by Jameel Warney on his special night. His 33 point, 15 rebound double double stands as his best performance on the season. Justin Denton also hit the 30 point benchmark with 31 of his own to go with 9 assists. Kyle Collisworth had a 14 point, 11 assist double double and Wade Baldwin pitched in with 17 points and 7 dimes in his Frisco debut.
The Legends will be right back at it again tomorrow night, as they host former number one overall draft choice Anthony Bennett and the Northern Arizona Suns.
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