Fireballs Ended Home Drought Beats Rockets in OT
- By Jron Magcale, Day 25, 2023
LOS ANGELES - Having lost 3 straight home games after winning their season opener, the Los Angeles Fireballs wants to give the crowd something they can all be excited about and that is exactly what Fireballs did coming from behind to force OT and eventually take home the W for the hometown crowd. The Rockets went to work early and went to blowout the Fireballs out of the gate behind Isaiah Foreman and Quinton Rice's quick start (Foreman finishes with 23pts, 12 rebs, 4 blks, 2 asts and 1 stl while Rice contributed 18 pts and 4 asts. Rockets took the 1st half with a grin with a commanding 15 point lead (54-39), the Fireballs have struggled to find the basket in the 1st half starting the game with just 13 points, their lowest score for a quarter this season.
The 2nd half was a different story as the Fireballs came out with a rejuvenated energy in defense (the team combined with 15 blocks) and held the Rockets to 13 points in the opening of the 2nd half, returning the favor and scoring 22 points to cut the lead down significantly. Chris LaCruz carried his team on his back as he exploded with a game high 35 points and 14 assists while snagging 7 boards and swatting 3 shots, Devan Carroll was the secondary scorer for the Fireballs as he recorded a double-double of his own 17 points and 10 rebounds while recording 3 assists and 2 blocks. But Keemar Campbell proved to be the anchor inside as he recorded 4 blocks and grabbing 12 rebounds while adding 7 points, 2 assists and 1 steal.
With time dying down in regulation and Rockets holding onto a 3 point lead 88-85, LaCruz came into the offensive and went to isolation with 12 seconds in the clock, he made his move and baited his man then took a 3 point shot to tie the game and was fouled mid-air, the ball shakes in the rim and out but was awarded 3 free throws, the crowd went silent as LaCruz was focused on hitting all 3 of them, after hitting the first one, the crowd cheered and then followed by another silence for LaCruz's 2nd free throw which also goes in, that is when the crowd started chanting "M-V-P! M-V-P!", iMac approached LaCruz before the 3rd free throw and looks like he whispered something to him and after that the ball hits nothing but net and the crowd goes wild! "We are going to OVERTIME, folks!" the announcer yells. Devan Carroll, iMac and rookie Kareem Teague crowded LaCruz after the free throw and LaCruz pointing into the floor and yelling "This is OUR house! This is OUR house!" then right before he heads to their bench looks at the crowd and pointed into his arm "Ice in my veins!" Assistant Coach Alton Wilkes quickly regroup and gave out instructions for the OT period where again like the last OT game the Fireballs played, they came out starting strong.
The Rockets hits the first basket followed by a 3 from the Fireballs and from there the Fireballs just played good defense and managed their lead the Rockets did cut the lead to 1 with a couple of FTs but with just 6 seconds remaining, rookie Kareem Teague split charities to ice the game that put them up by 2 points 97-99, the Rockets tried to get a shot off but the time expires sending the The Forum into a frenzy, the atmosphere seems like the team won a playoff series but that is probably due to the fact that they had 3 consecutive home games and the game to snap the skid is one for the books, an insane finish.
"That one is for the fans, we are in Los Angeles and people here loves a great endings and I hope everyone who was in the building and witnessed what Chris (LaCruz) did and what the team as a whole accomplished in that win, had a great experience. We started out slow but did a great job finishing, we couldn't ask for more out of our players." Assistant Coach Alton Wilkes said after the win.
BOX SCORE: http://jblfl.com/boxscore?game=12980
The win puts the Fireballs 5-6 just 1 game under .500 but their next game will be a date with division leader and JBL champions Seattle Thunder, this will be Devan Carroll's first game against his former team, a team that he helped notch a second ring and then see him being traded in the offseason replacing him with future hall of famer Dontay Sowder who was acquired in a sign and trade. It will be the 1st time Carroll will visit Seattle (and reports says that he will also get his 2nd ring if the rumors are true that it will be Seattle's ring presentation ceremony).
"I don't think there is bad blood between myself and the Thunder organization, they did what is best for their current situation cap-wise and team-wise, I did what I was supposed to do when I was there and that is win rings, and I got 2 when all is said and done. I'm in a good situation, taking a much larger role that I have when I was in Seattle and I'm up for the challenge." Devan Caroll said about him going back to Seattle for their match.
"I expect nothing short of a standing ovation for Devan when we visit Seattle, his role on that 2nd championship is huge. I think the city of Seattle would be appreciative of what he gave to the city when he was donning their jersey." Chris LaCruz on Carroll and the Thunder situation.
The Los Angeles Fireballs will have a back to back game next sim as the team flies to Seattle on Day 26 and head back home to host the struggling Atlanta Devils on Day 27.