Los Angeles Winless On The Road 0-2 vs New Orleans and Miami
- By Jron Magcale, Day 37, 2023
LOS ANGELES - The Fireballs struggled in the road so far, losing a back-to-back at New Orleans and Miami. The losses put them at 7-9 so, far in 16 games. Still trying to find answers on how to win consistently. The losses were close ones, losing by only 4 in New Orleans and 5 in Miami.
Fireballs Fail to Keep Up with Hurricanes in Bourbon St.
Hurricanes - 126
Fireballs - 122
New Orleans protected their homecourt against Los Angeles by keeping up with the Fireballs' hot start and taking over in the final stretch. The high scoring affair was lead by a solid performance by former Fireball Hilton Phillips who was tasked to match up with the scorching Chris LaCruz and tamed him to only 19 points (7/14 FG, 0/3 3FG, 5/7 FT), although LaCruz facilitated well (11 assists, 2 TO) it was HP who had the better game scoring 28 points, 14 assists, 2 rebounds and 2 steals while Center Ryan Pierce scored 29 points (on an efficient 12/16 FG, 1/1 3FG, 4/5FT), wings Deron Bentley and Jalan Howard were also factors as Bentley 18 points and 6 assists, Howard 15 points and 3 steals.
The story of the game was the inside dominance of the Hurricanes where they scored 74 points and the Fireballs only getting 48 points. Fireballs outside shooting kept them in the game making 17/31 3FG while Hurricanes only recording 9/26 3FG. the game is as close as it can get as no team lead for more than 7 points the whole game and they both have 12 lead changes and 16 ties during the game. Bench scoring was also close as Los Angeles lead by only 5 on that department 35 to Hurricanes 30. The game was tied 4 minutes remaining 115-115 then Hurricanes went on 7-0 run the Fireballs tried to make a run of their own but it was too late. The Hurricanes were able to make a stand 126-122. Fireballs was lead by 21 points from Devan Carroll followed by LaCruz and iMac's 19, Jamal Wilkinson had 15 points off the bench and Vitas also contributed 12 off the bench.
"HP (Hilton Phillips) was big for them, he matched up great against Chris (LaCruz) and everybody else in their offense was making shots inside. they were efficient down low. We went toe to toe until the end but they were the better team. Always a challenge winning in the road, so we'll take it as a learning curve this season." Assistant Coach Alton Wilkes said after the game.
BOX SCORE: http://jblfl.com/boxscore?game=13045
Fireballs Couldn't Hang with Cyclones in Miami
Cyclones - 134
Fireballs - 129
On the backend of a back to back, Fireballs traveled to Miami to face the strong Miami Cyclones whom going to the game was 13-2, the Cyclones didn't waste any energy putting 36 points in the boards in the first quarter which got the Fireballs scrambling to hang by scoring 31 points, the 2nd quarter seems like a better position for the Fireballs as they went on and scored 34 points and the Cyclones was only able to provide 24 closing the half at 60-65, Fireballs. The game is paced to be a high scoring affair yet again as both teams have fire power. Again a blistering start by Miami drew first blood in the 2nd half with 40 points in the 3rd quarter, the Fireballs again tried to keep up by scoring 34 points to still be within striking distance, the Cyclones kept the same energy scoring 34 points in the final quarter and left Fireballs to just 28 to finish the game 134-129 in what has been a high scoring ball game.
Jermaine Curry (31 pts) and Josh Gamble (28 pts) lead the way for the Cyclones as both combined for 59 points while Kelvin Black's massive double-double (22 points and 18 rebounds) and Reggie Fortier's near triple-double (17 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 steals and 4 blocks) give the team enough cushion to take the W against the Fireballs. The Fireballs had Chris LaCruz (35 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block) and Isaiah McCarty (32 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal) clicking on offense but wasn't enough for them to secure a win. Devan Carroll had a solid all-around outing scoring 20 points (2nd consecutive 20-point game), 7 rebounds, 8 assists and 2 steals to round out the 3 best contributors for LA that game. Again a huge game inside for LA's opponent was the deciding factor as the inside game of the Cyclones came up with 74 points to Fireballs 46. The Fireballs dropped to 7-9 after the Cyclones game.
Assistant Coach Alton Wilkes was available for the media and this is what he has to say: "We need to protect the inside better, the last 2 games that is where our opponents got the better over us. We were putting up big points but the other team is doing the same. We need to get our interior defense better than what we showed the last 2 games. We'll surely adjust and from there we'll see how we respond, we have 1 more away game in Cincy before going back home, so we'll see how that goes."
BOX SCORE: http://jblfl.com/boxscore?game=13053
The Fireballs will fly to Cincinnati on Day 37 and fly back to LA in Day 38 to host Phoenix on another back-to-back bout. There are reports that backup Center Derrick "Guzo" Aririguzoh will start at center on the next game and also Jamal Wilkinson is rumored to be back in the starting lineup effective next game.