LA Takes Ls from Scorps and Dragons but Victorious vs Knights

  • By Jron Magcale, Day 13, 2023

LOS ANGELES - The Fireballs lost 2 games and won 1 last sim week, showing mixed results during the games. What is good about them is the cohesion is slowly setting in. Players are finding their role in the new system in which is more of an Alton Wilkes system than Rudaski Odrzywolski's. The players are responding on the type of basketball they are tasked to play and with the team now holding a 2-4 card early this season, GM Jron said that "It is always better to struggle early than late, we get to make adjustments early and identify the cause and find solution. I trust coaching staff about the process and structure they are setting. We'll be alright." Below is the recap of the games the Fireballs played from Day 9-12:

Fireballs Came Up Short in "Shootout in the Desert"
Scorpions - 130
Fireballs - 123

For the last few games Fireballs has been starting the games strong and this game is no different, the Fireballs scores 32 points in the opening quarter followed by 30 in the next, the problem? Well the Scorpions had a big 2nd quarter as they exploded for 44 points in that quarter alone. Closing the half with 69-62, Scoprions. The 2nd half was as close as it gets, as the 2nd half score was tied 61 a piece. Proving that the torrid 44 -point 2nd quarter of the Scorpions lead by 2022 Scoring Champ Lamar Francis' 30 points in an efficient 11/17 FG shooting.

The story of the game is the Scorpions underrated bench who outscored the Fireballs' LA Bench Mob 48-29. Scorpions bench was lead by rookie JJ Cooper who 19 points and 4 rebounds shooting 8/11 in the field. The Fireballs was lead by Chris LaCruz all around performance scoring 33 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds and a block shooting more efficient than his previous games (13/23 FG, 3/4 3FG and 4/5 FT) iMac and Carroll both scored at least 20 points as iMac finished with a double-double 22 points, 10 assists and 6 rebounds while Carroll produces 20 points, 7 assitss, 5 rebounds and a block. LA Bench Mob was lead by Rookie Kareem Teague who has been solid coming off the bench with 14 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals and 1 block all of his shots were from the outside 4/6 3FG and 1/1 FT.

"What can I say every time we play Vegas, we're always up for a challenge. It's going to be like this the rest of the year, it's always going to be a shootout. They have a hell of a 2nd quarter that we weren't able to answer. Lamar (Francis) is always going to attack that bucket and Shad was also stellar for them plus their bench were firing on all cylinders. We'll just have to get better next time we face them." Assistant Coach Alton Wilkes said at the press conference after the game.

Dragons Came Victorious at Los Angeles in a Defensive Bout
Fireballs - 89
Dragons - 94

On paper, the Fireballs and Dragons game looks like a fast-paced high scoring game, but the result begs to differ as defense was king on this game in Los Angeles at the forum. the game started with LA leading in the 1st half 44-39 but a big 4th quarter by the Dragons where they outscore the Fireballs 30-23 was the difference, a low scoring affair that saw both teams struggle to put shots up. Fireballs was lead by veteran sharpshooter Isaiah McCarty who tallied 31 points (13/23 FG and 3/7 3FG), 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 1 block set followed by Chris LaCruz who had a decent game overall 22 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds and 1 block but was 0/4 from the outside to finish 10/19 FG overall. The only other Fireball in double figures was combo forward Devan Carroll with 11 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals and 1 block and committed 0 turnovers.

The LA Bench Mob was absent as they were just able to contribute 18 points as everyone was struggling to find their shot. The team struggled to shoot as they were abysmal from beyond the arc shooting 6/34 (17% 3FG) and was just 38% overall FG (37/98). Dragons was lead by former Fireball Orien Young with a double-double 21 points and 14 rebounds. The Novak-OB1 backcourt also struggled scoring the basketball but both combined for 22 assists (11 each). OB1 finished with 13 points and Novak with 9 points.

Assistant Coach Alton Wilkes pointed out what happened in that game in the presser "I think defensively we are getting there, but we need to finish the game with the same intensity from 1st to 4th quarter. Kudos to the Dragons defense who forced us to take bad shots. Orien (Young) showed us his veteran presence and he joked coming into the game that he was coming for us and he did. Our bench struggled as well, we had that same problem when we lost to Dallas, we take ill-advised shots, way too many. We need to get better at that area of the basketball."

LA Avenges Home Lose to Knights, Winning at KC
Knights - 93
Fireballs - 114

Los Angeles tied up their season series vs Kansas City by scoring the exact points the Knights scored when they visited the Forum 114 point. Whether its deliberate or just a coincidence the Fireballs were pretty hyped up to snap the 3 game skid that started, well by the Knights. The game was pretty tight 53-54, Knights at halftime, we don't know what the Fireballs told their team at halftime but they were a different team when they came out of the locker room, limiting the Knights to only 10 points in the 3rd quarter while scoring 32 points. The Knights couldn't bounce back as the Fireballs closed out the game with 32 points 4th quarter to the Knights 29. Chris LaCruz's 26 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds paced the Fireballs. Devan Carroll is getting comfortable playing with his new teammates again flirting with a triple-double facilitating at the point forward position 21 points, 13 rebounds, 9 assists, 1 steal and knocking down 4/6 of his 3 pointers.

LA Bench Mob was alive and well lead by wing Lorenzo Charles 17 points (6/10 FG, 2/4 3FG, 3/3 FT), 5 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal in 15 minutes of playing time, Guzo (Aririguzoh) and starting Center Keemar Campbell combined for 8 blocks (Guzo: 3, Campbell: 5) to make it hard for the Knights to convert inside. The LA Bench Mob scored 42 points battling the equally active Knights bench who also scored 44 points to keep the fight on for the struggling starters. Knights was lead 15 points from Shandon James and both Kelvin Hawes and Jaylen Baker scored 12 as the rest of the Knights failed to score in double figures.

"It was always a good feeling winning away from home against a solid team like the Knights. Our defense was clicking and the Keem and Guzo show with the block partyis fun to watch. Game ball goes to Devan (Caroll) as he was active and involved the whole game. The chemistry is setting in and he knows when and where to make a pass or take a shot, hopefully we can be as aggressive on defense as we move on this season but slowly we're getting where we envision our team cohesion will be at." Assistant Coach Alton Wilkes said at the post-game interview.

The Fireballs finished 1-2 in the last sim week and will have 2 games on the next sim week window visiting the streaking Rockets (4-2) in Houston on Day 14 and going home to face the struggling St. Louis Skyhawks (0-5) in the Forum.