Los Angeles Wins Home Opener vs Lightning, Came Short vs Knights Next
- By Jron Magcale, Day 9, 2023
LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles went back home and split the 2 games they have back at the Forum. Winning convincingly against the struggling Houston Lightning but 2 days after drops against Kansas City Knights who propelled with a big 4th quarter to top the Fireballs. Here is a quick summary of both games:
Fireballs Opens Home with a Dominating W
Fireballs - 114
Lightning - 86
After losing their season opener to the hot Dallas Predators team at Dallas, the Fireballs came home on a mission to try to please the hometown crowd with the equally struggling Houston Lightning team. The Fireballs came out firing as the team opened up the big 1st quarter 36-21 which dictated the game and although Lightning tried to fight back it was hard for them to contain the hot Fireballs team who really wants to give the W to the fans, even the "LA Bench Mob" came firing away scoring 46 points lead by backup Center Derrick "Guzo" Aririguzoh's 15 points, 7 rebounds and a block in just 15 minutes of playing time. The Fireballs had 9 players in double figures and throughout the 2nd half the LA Bench Mob was given extra playing time and rested the starters.
Fireballs again relied on Chris LaCruz with 26 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds on a better shooting night 10/16 FG, 2/4 3FG on just 28 minutes of playing time. Other notable performances had Devan Carroll flirting with a triple double showcasing his innate versatility 9 points, 7 rebounds, 10 assists, 1 steal and 2 blocks although struggled shooting the ball (4/15FG, 1/7 3FG) he tried to do everything else well to keep the pace. Jamal Wilkinson bounced back with a solid all around game 15 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals while shooting efficiently 6/12 FG, 3/5 3FG.
"We knew we have to give the fans that W at home and we came out aggressive, Chris (LaCruz) came out aggressive out the gate and everybody just followed suit, great effort by our bench to keep the pace where it's at when the starters sat." Assistant Coach Alton Wilkes said after the game.
Knights Big 4th Quarter Steals a Win from the Fireballs
Fireballs - 108
Knights - 114
Like the last game they have, Fireball came out aggressive limiting the Knights to 16 points while scoring 25 points but Knights came out scoring 31 or more points the next 3 quarters that had the Fireballs in the ropes especially in the 4th quarter where the Knights scored 31 points while the Fireballs struggled and scored only 21 points. Star PG Chris LaCruz struggled to shoot the basketball as he was just 7/24 FG and 2/7 3FG and finished with 18 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 block which is underwhelming by his standards. Knights MVP Kelvin Hawes scored a double-double 23 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocks and 1 steal, pairing his double-double is Rahmond "T-Rex" Thompson with 13 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 blocks.
Fireballs bench which the fans dubbed as the "LA Bench Mob" did well with 46 points off the bench to Knights 25 bench points. But it was the starters who didn't have a nice outing vs the Knights. LA Bench Mob this time is lead by versatile defensive rookie who came out with his best game so far scoring 18 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals impressive shooting with 6/9 FG, 4/6 3FG, followed by backup PG TJ Holloway who also contributed in double figures with 14 points, 5 assists and 1 rebounds efficiently shooting 5/6FG and 4/5 3FG in just 11 minutes of playing time. The Fireballs lead majority of the game but the 4th quarter surge of the Knights proved to be the factor for the Fireballs demise on that game.
"I think we have settled on shooting jumpers on that game trying to shoot away on the slump late in the 4th quarter. Turnovers killed us late in the game, costly turnovers in the 4th cost us that game. We need to do better closing out games and be aggressive attacking the basket rather than settle on jumpers, we'll bounce back for sure, a few adjustments on both sides of the basketball and we'll be alright." Assistant Coach Alton Wilkes said in the press conference after the game.
The Los Angeles Fireballs will have a tough next 3 game swing as they will visit the new look Las Vegas Scorpions (1-2) on Day 9 and then head back to the Forum to host the high octane Denver Dragons (2-2) on Day 10 as part of the a back-to-back set after that it's their turn to visit the Knights in hopes to return the favor in Kansas City on Day 12.