Los Angeles Fails vs Kings and Vults, Wins vs Canes
- By Jron Magcale, Day 41, 2023
LOS ANGELES - Fireballs falls to 8-11 as they went 1-2 in the last sim. Losing both games of a brutal back-to-back flying from Cincinnati to LA in less than 24 hours but was victorious against New Orleans at home.
Fireballs Fails to win in Cincinnati
Kings - 110
Fireballs - 104
Flying to the last destination of LA's 3 game road swing in Cincinnati didn't bode well for the Fireballs as they drop another close game as Kings wing Detrez Owens exploded for 34 points on 14/25 FG and 5/9 3FG despite veteran sharpshooter iMac's own 37-point night (14/20 FG and 9/11 3FG). The game was close as they ended the 1st half with 52-48, in favor of the Kings. But most the game, the Fireballs was just playing catch up the whole game. The Kings lead 10 points twice and the Fireballs was trying to just keep the game close. Chris LaCruz wasn't having his usual game only finishing 15 points (7/18 FG, 2/8 3FG, 2/3 FT), 8 assists, 6 rebounds and 2 steals. Without iMac's big game the Fireballs would've been blown out.
The 2nd half was more of the same of the 1st, as Kings finished with 58 to Fireballs 56. Among the standouts of the game for the Kings is Latrell Mason who finished the game with a double-double 21 points and 13 rebounds, rookie wing Demarco Prince also finished with a solid all-around game with 16 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 assists and 2 blocks connecting 4/8 from the outside. LA's usual help from the bench didn't contribute significantly as their bench scored only 22 points. The Fireballs elected to start Derrick "Guzo" Aririguzoh over usual starter Keemar Campbell and promoted Jamal Wilkinson back to the starting lineup after 8 games coming off the bench for LA and sent rookie defensive wing Kareem Teague back to his usual support role.
"We weren't playing at our best last couple of games and it is costing us close games. Kings were just shooting the lights out and their youth and their energy was high and we were just trying to play catch up the whole game, we need to finish better." Assistant Coach Alton Wilkes said after the game.
BOX SCORE: http://jblfl.com/boxscore?game=13074
Vultures Fly Past Fireballs in LA
Fireballs - 118
Vultures - 126
After 3 grueling games away, the Fireballs comes home to host the strong and steady Vultures. The game was fast pace early as both teams were making buckets after the 1st quarter the Vultures had a slight lead 39-36, a high scoring 1st was followed by a rather slow 2nd quarter as Fireballs was just allowed to score 21 to Vultures 26 after the 1st half, the Vultures looks like they are ready to take away the game leading 57-65. The 2nd half was a different story as Fireballs tries to claw back and outscoring the Vulture 38-32 in the 3rd quarter but the valiant comeback effort was halted in the 4th as Vultures finished the Fireballs with the final score of 118-126.
Orpheus Swayda and Jamaya Sprinkle both finished with 24 a piece while Drayton Banks (17 points and 18 rebounds) and Rasheem Fisher (18 points and 12 assists) both finished with double-doubles. Kendall Nash finished with 21 points off the bench as well. For Los Angeles Chris LaCruz' struggle continues as he fails to score more than 19 points in the 2nd consecutive game recording a modest 19 points (6/12 FG, 2/3 3FG, 5/7 FT) , 11 assists, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks. Isaiah McCarty finished 18 points and Devan Carroll with 15 points. 7 Fireball scored in double figures and the Fireballs bench was active this game (45 points for the LA Bench Mob as 3 players scored in double figures). Biggest story of the game though is the Fireballs committing 18 turnovers where the Vultures converted 27 points from it.
Assistant Coach Alton Wilkes talked to the media after the game and here is what he has to say: "We got sloppy and we can't be sloppy all the time, we are within reach the whole game and the turnovers were really killing us, the bench did a terrific job of sustaining the game when the starters rest but the Vultures is a strong team scoring and rebounding and we need to find ways to overcome that. We didn't find one this game and we hope next game we'll have an answer."
BOX SCORE: http://jblfl.com/boxscore?game=13096
Fireballs Secure a Win at Home vs the Hurricanes
Fireballs - 129
Hurricanes - 105
After dropping a close one in New Orleans the Fireballs came out strong at home when they hosted the Hurricanes where Chris LaCruz finally resumes his scoring ways dropping 32 points, 13 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals, while iMac (21 points) and Devan Carroll (20 points) each scores no less than 20 points. Carroll was his usual all-around self dishing 9 assists and grabbing 6 rebounds, 1 steal and 2 blocks to come with his 21 points. The LA Bench Mob was again active scoring 45 points lead by rookie Kareem Teague's 15 points (efficiently shooting 6/8 FG, 2/2 3FG, 1/2 FT) while also getting 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals and 1 block with 0 turnover on 22 minutes of play. Keemar Campbell who is getting used to his new bench role contributed 10 points and Lorenzo Charles scored 11 points as well.
The game was within reach early as the 1st quarter ended with 30-27, Fireballs. The 2nd quarter the Hurricanes puts the pressure on and scored 37 points to the Fireballs 28 grabbing the lead in the 1st half 64-58. The 3rd quarter is when the Fireballs set their attack scoring in variety of ways onto a big 39 points 3rd quarter while the Hurricanes trying to get close scoring 26 points, the 4th quarter was a completely different situation as the Fireballs clamped the 'Canes to just 15 points and the Fireballs finished off with 32 points en route to a 129-105 convincing win. It seems like the Hurricanes didn't start Hilton Phillips and paid the price although HP was decent 15 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists. The 'Canes was lead by 26 points from pivot Ryan Pierce who has 26 points and 9 rebounds followed by PG Sergio Loyola with 21 points and 4 assists. The win snapped a 4 game losing streak and put LA to 8-11 so far.
"It is refreshing finally getting a win, we needed it and after the previous 4 games which could've gone either way base on the results, we needed to win and we needed to win convincingly. Chris (LaCruz) came out big for us but the game ball goes to the rookie 'Reem (Teague) he came off the bench and delivered for us. He knows his role is important and he understood it. Our rotation isn't perfect but we're trying to make it work. Changes will still be made, adjustments and all and that is why you play the game, you need to adapt and adjust." Assistant Coach Alton Wilkes happily said in the press conference after the game.
BOX SCORE: http://jblfl.com/boxscore?game=13104
The Fireballs will be visiting the high altitude of Denver (12-8) on Day 42 and then back home to host the struggling Vipers (6-13) on Day 44 . With Day 42 looming in reports says that the Fireballs are already preparing the extension offer sheet to Chris LaCruz. Rumors surround the whole league about some player movements but the Fireballs are said to be staying put and commented that their top priority is LaCruz' extension. Sources suggests that the Fireballs was at least in contact with a few teams heading to Day 42 but nothing concrete yet has been reported.