Los Angeles Victorious 2-0 Sim, Wins vs OKC and Miami
- By Jron Magcale, Day 57, 2023
LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Fireballs is piecing it together and getting better as the season progressed, the Fireballs extended their winning streak to 4 by beating the Barons in Oklahoma City and then winning at home vs a tough Miami Cyclones team. The Fireballs jumped up into the most recent power ranking and is now inside the top 10 sitting at #10. Fireballs have won 8 out of their last 10 games headed by the hot streaking All-JBL PG Chris LaCruz who now have overtook Seattle Thunder star Andre Phifer in the scoring leader a fraction of a margin LaCruz (30.9 ppg), Phifer (30.8 ppg). The Fireball so far is 6-1 since their trades and looking like they are having a lot of fun during the stretches.
Fireballs Steals a W at Baron's Home
Barons - 102
Fireballs - 108
Fireballs visited Oklahoma City to face the improved Barons team who has been in a quite of a solid start. The Fireballs usual strong start is evident as they scored 36 points in the 1st quarter while Barons managed to score 24, the 2nd quarter saw the Fireballs struggled as they were held to only 11 points by the stingy Barons defense as OKC scored 29 to finish the first half 55-47 advantage. The 2nd half started rather slow as the Fireballs have a slight advantantage for the quarter score 23-21, going into the 4th quarter the Barons still leading 76-70 and that is when the Fireballs relied heavily in Chris LaCruz firepower who pushes the Fireballs into a run that took the lead with 5:12 remaining in the ball game at that point, the Fireballs never looked back as the team finishes with 38 points in the 4th quarter to the Barons 28, finishing the game Fireballs 108 and Barons 102.
Chris LaCruz has been playing on his MVP level as the Fireballs rose from early struggles, he scored 43 points on 15-31 FG, 2/6 3FG and 11/11 FT to go with his 9 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals an a block committing only 1 turnover. Helping him is all-around forward Devan Carroll who scored only 11 points but did his damage everywhere, grabbing 11 boards, dishing 4 assists, snatching 3 steals and swatting 3 shots. He has been a perfect compliment to LaCruz all season long as he doesn't need to score all that much to be effective. The Barons was lead by the double-double of veteran guard Jamar Strickland 18 points and 14 assists, Idris Berkley lead the team in scoring with 21 points, Roy Ellington struggled against the interior defense of the Fireballs shooting 1/12 finishing with only 6 points.
"We have struggled a lot on that 2nd quarter but thankfully our defense gives our offense a chance to come back on that 4th quarter. Chris (LaCruz) has been unbelievable these past games and the team is starting to gel and find their comfort zone. We just need to play at this level and try to get better as the season moves forward." Assistant Coach Alton Wilkes said in the post-game presser.
BOX SCORE: http://jblfl.com/boxscore?game=13202
Fireballs Escapes Cyclones at Home
Fireballs - 102
Cyclones - 100
Fireballs hosted the Cyclones looking to get back after losing in Miami earlier in the season, but the Cyclones comes in entering the game as a heavy favorites. The Cyclones didn't waste no time jumping on a 27-23 1st quarter and then following up with a more aggressive 33-18 2nd quarter that got them the 60-41 halftime lead. The Fireballs has been coming from behind all season and the Cyclones knows it as well, a resilient run sparks the Fireballs 34-19 3rd quarter that cut the lead down to 74-79, the 4th quarter comes crucial as the Fireballs tied the game 79-79 with 9:40 left in the game, Fireballs paced it for the next 6 minutes then Cyclones took the lead again with 3:40 left 88-87, the Fireballs took the lead again up until the Cyclones snatched it again with a couple of FTs with 18 seconds remaining but the Cyclones fouled the Fireballs again as they knock 2 FTs to finish the game and win 102-100 thriller.
There is no question on who came out big for the Fireballs as Chris LaCruz leads the game in scoring notching 28 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 steal but he got significant help for the do-everything combo forward Devan Carroll who scored 26 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 1 block, Reggie Coleman was the only other double-figure scorer scoring 22 points on 6/15 FG with 6/13 3FG. The Cyclones was lead by the double-doubles of Kelvin Black 14-19 and Deshawn Hawkins 14-10, with Reggie Fortier leading the team in scoring with 21 points, Josh Gamble added 18-9-7-2.
Assistant Coach Alton Wilkes discussed the win after the game: "We knew it was going to be a battle and when we were down big at the half, we need to regroup and make shots, and that is what we did. Almost all of our wins this season has been coming from behind and we're kind of like used to the pressure and thrives on it. We are grateful we get the W at home, the fans deserves this win as well, this is LA, they deserve to see a great show."
BOX SCORE: http://jblfl.com/boxscore?game=13218
The Fireballs will have a 4-game road test as that will start in Houston (11-15) on Day 58 and will visit Charlotte (12-14) on Day 60. The team will travel without forward Stoyanov Vitas who got hurt in practice with knee contusion and will not be available for the rest of the week.