LA Confidential: Fireballs 2-1 in Eastcoast Swing; Losses at Pitt, Wins at Boston and Philly
- By Jron Magcale, Day 120, 2026
LOS ANGELES - The Fireballs felt the effect of losing Kenyon Fuller when they were dominated defensively by the Vipers in Pittsburgh but since their acquisition of C/PF Jarell Harrison to step in for the injured Fuller they were victorious in their travels to Boston and Philadelphia. The Fireballs is now 37-19 which is good for 2nd in the West, 1st in the Pacific Division while being 3rd in the Power Rankings. They are 4-1 in their last 5 games which are all road games, they will have 1 more game before the break and that is their last stop for their 6-game road trip. Rookie PG Keiron Bloom was activated in their last game against Philly after being sidelined for 9 days because of Knee Contusion. Kenyon Fuller will still be sidelined for 3 more weeks and Devearl Stoudamire around 4 more weeks.
VIPERS SHOWED DEFENSIVE DOMINANCE LIMITS FIREBALLS TO 89 POINTS
The Fireballs started their Eastcoast road trip with a visit to Pittsburgh and faced the reality of not having Kenyon Fuller inside is tougher than previously anticipated. The Vipers clamps down the Fireball in the crucial 3rd quarter where the Fireballs was only able to score 15 points. The team struggled to score shooting an abysmal 32% FG and 28% 3FG as the Vipers grit and grind was on display. The frontcourt tandem of Reggie Fortier (21p-8r-8a-4b-3s) and Rashaad Haslem (22p-6r-6b-1a) was too much for the Fireballs to have as they blocked a combined 10 shots making it hard for the Fireballs to score inside (Vipers had a total of 18 blocks in the game). But it was the solid all-around game of rookie PG/SF Troy Phillips whom posted 20p-8r-7a-1s-1b in 34 minutes of play, another rookie was impressive on the boards but not as much offensively PF Bo Anderson snagged 18 boards but was 1/10 FG shooting, 0/1 3FG, 4/6 FT for 6 points. Triston Lane also struggled shooting going 3/13 FG (3/4 3FG, 1/4 FT) but did notched 9r-5a-2s-2b and was able to lockdown the Fireballs SGs. For LA, Derrick Griffin leads the team with 24p-11r-4b-2a-1s while LaCruz also posted a double-double with 22p-10r-5a-1s, Jeremiah Augustin added 13p-11r-2a-2s but shot 26% in the field while Dejuan Brooks added 11p-4r-5a-3b.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Troy Phillips, PIT - 20 points (7/15 FG, 4/11 3FG, 2/2 FT), 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 steal, 1 block (22.2 GmScr). The 6'4" combo guard showed poise going against the best PG in the JBL outplaying LaCruz in the Vipers win, putting up solid numbers he committed only 1 TO while dishing 7 dimes.
EXTRA NOTES: The Fireballs was held to the team's lowest scoring output this season as the Vipers showed their defensive chops outclassing the usually high octane Fireballs. Vipers had 18 blocks against the Fireballs and limited them to 32% FG as well. Fireballs is missing some key players but their awful shooting was too much to overcome.
FIREBALLS ESCAPES CRUSADERS IN BOSTON
Former Fireballs AC Eddie Woods faces his former team as the Fireballs visited the Crusaders in Boston. Fireballs controlled the game early as they lead by halftime 68-55 but the Crusaders didn't hold back in the 3rd quarter as they cut the lead after 3 quarters, 86-91 powered by a 31-23 3rd quarter play from the home team. The 4th quarter is a tight one as both teams trying to escape the game with a W. Late in the game with the Fireballs holding to a slim lead 112-108, both teams didn't score for 1 minute and 48 seconds as the last basket was from Griffin with 2:29 remaining in the game, the next one was 2 FTs from Dejuan Brooks with 31 seconds remaining, 108-114. Porter answered with 2 FTs of his own from a Jarell Harrison foul with 23 seconds left in the game. A Donlon quick foul hacking Harrison with 21 seconds remaining was fruitful as Harrison missed both, the Crusaders has a chance to cut the lead and they did with 16 seconds left as Griffin fouled Zayveon West who banks 2 FTs 112-114. With 14 seconds left the Crusaders have no choice but to foul LaCruz who sank both crucial FTs 112-116, the Crusaders went for a quick 2 but Kahlil Hooker missed the mid range jumpshot with only 9 seconds remaining. The Fireballs with the possession and Donly commits with his 5th foul that sends Jeremiah Augustin to the line who splits the FT to go up 117-112 which gave the 5-point cushion and 8 seconds on the clock. West shots a 3-pointer but didn't go in as the Fireballs escapes the Crusaders bid for an upset.
Chris LaCruz flirted with a triple-double as he recorded 26p-19a-9r-2s-2b while his partner in crime Derrick Griffin also adde 26p-7r-2s-1a-1b, newly acquired big man Jarell Harrison who debuted in Boston impresses with 18p-10r-3a-3b-1s, Dejuan Brooks added 14p-4a-3r-3b-2s and off the bench reserve PG Nakye Monroe leads the bench with 11p-5a-4r-1s. Crusaders got a double-double from Kahlil Hooker with 23p-16r-3a-1s-1b, Zayveon West although shot 0/7 from the outside also flirted with a triple-double with 22p-10r-9a-3s-1b and Tyrese Porter the only other Crusader to score in double figures with 13p-4a-3r-2s.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Chris LaCruz, LAF - 26 points (9/22 FG, 0/4 3FG, 8/8 FT), 19 assists, 9 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks (31.1 GmScr). LaCruz struggled shooting but make up for it with tossing 19 dimes setting the Fireballs pace. He hit 2 crucial FTs late in the game to help ice the game.
EXTRA NOTES: Fireballs operated in the fastbreak outscoring the Crusaders 23-16 while also winning the points off turnover battle 11-8. Fireballs defense did their job as they did contest 81 shots and deflected 12 passes and while both teams had 10 steals the Fireballs swatted 12 to Crusaders 5.
FIREBALLS SURPRISES THE WARRIORS IN PHILLY, TOOK THE ROAD W
Fireballs capitalized on a solid 1st half out shooting the home team 73-63 and then did a good job on keeping the lead all game as they paced the Warriors 27-26 3rd Qtr and 29-27 4th Qtr to take home the win on the road. 3 Fireballs scored 23 or more points lead by defensive Ace Derrick Griffin with 28p-10r-7a-4b-3s, Chris LaCruz' 27p-14a-4r-3s and Jarell Harrison's 23p-17r-4a-4b-3s who looks like fitting in nicely with the Fireballs system. The Warriors was obviously lead by key player Alonzo Weaver who dropped 29p-9r-8a-1s-1b and was helped off the bench by Lamar Claxton who had 21p-4r-1a in 30 minutes off the bench. Antoine Hall added 18p-12r-4a and Aaron Honeycutt posted 13p-4a-4r-1b. The Fireballs was able to show what they are made of and made 17 3FG vs Warriors' 6 3FG. Fireballs has showed their firepower shooting 53/111 FG while the Warriors just shot 44/89. This is a surprise for the Fireballs who has been struggling in the road but it seems they have been picking up thanks to the leadership of LaCruz and Griffin.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Chris LaCruz, LAF - 27 points (11/23 FG, 3/9 3FG, 2/3 FT), 14 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 steals (28.5 GmScr). LaCruz slightly edged out his running mate Derrick Griffin who posted a 28.3 GmScr. LaCruz sublime playmaking has been the key for the Fireballs and in this game it's no different LaCruz dished 14 dimes to only 1 turnover in 44:36 of play.
EXTRA NOTES: The Fireballs activated rookie Keiron Bloom who had a modest outing after coming back from injury which sidelined him for 9 days. The 6'4" PG helped with 4p-5r-4a-3s-1b. 19 year old PF Mo Andaya played only 6 minutes and 45 seconds but scored 9 points shooting 4/5 FG. Jeremiah Augustin and Tywan Liggins both scored 8 points a piece for their bench as well.
FIREBALLS BOUNCED BACK FROM A 9-POINT 1ST QTR TO WIN AGAINST NEW LOOK DEVILS IN ATL
The Fireballs was hedious in the 1st quarter scoring a season-low 9 points but did limit the Devils as well to 16 points to not be far behind. While the 1st quarter was an offensive mess for both teams the 2nd quarter was a redemtion song for the Fireballs as franchise player Chris LaCruz exploded for 19 points including 3 3-point plays and 2 3FGs en route for the Fireballs to score 36 points in the 2nd quarter while limiting the Devils to 25 and leading by the half 41-45. The Fireballs was able to maintain the lead till the 4th and escaped Atlanta with a score of 83-97. LaCruz will be heading in the break with a statline of 41p-8a-6r-2s-1b while Dejuan Brooks added 18p-9r-3a and Jarell Harrison posting 14p-11r-2s-2b-1a, Derrick Griffin shot bad but did great on defense with 10p-6r-4b-2s-2a. The Devils got a solid outing from wing Dominique Harmon who posted 23p-8r-4a-1s, helping him is Kenny Robertson who added 15p-6r-5a-1b and the only other player to score in double figures is reserve guard Jalen Langford who added 11 points. Newcomers Treyvon Miller (8p-5r-6b-2s) and Omari Kamga (9p-10r-4s-2b-1a) were solid defensively but a lot to work on offensively.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Chris LaCruz, LAF - 41 points (14/24 FG, 2/3 3FG, 11/12 FT), 8 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block (33.6 GmScr). LaCruz operated in the PnR BH scoring 17 points there and added 11 points from transition. He was his usual self attacking and making 11/12 FT.
EXTRA NOTES: The Fireballs bench were non-existent as the highest scorer was Keiron Bloom who added 4p-4a-2r-2s and was outscored 24-10 but the Fireballs controlled the game leading with a total of 30 minutes and 12 seconds with the lead being largest in the 4th at 15 points.