Los Angeles Drops 2 in the Road, at Houston and Charlotte
- By Jron Magcale, Day 61, 2023
LOS ANGELES - After winning 4 straight, the Fireballs drops 2 straight in the road against the improving Lightning and Drones. They are still 1 game above .500 with a 15-14 card. The Fireballs seems to be in a shooting struggle and missing depth at the forward position with combo forward Stoyanov Vitas sidelined with knee injury.
Houston Defended Their Home, Defeats Fireballs
Houston - 99
Fireballs - 93
The Fireballs arrive in Houston with a 4-game winning streak looking to extend it to 5 but the Lightning took advantage of the Fireballs shooting woes as Houston aggressively jumped into a 38-18 1st quarter lead, the Fireballs tried to bounce back in the 2nd quarter limiting the Lightning into 18 points while scoring 24 points cutting the lead to end the 1st half 56-42. The Fireballs was poised for a comeback, something they have been doing all season long surprising the Lightning with a 35 points 3rd quarter while Lightning managed to put together 24 points of their own. Cutting the lead down 80-77 going into the 4th quarter, but the closing quarter proves to be a defensive match as both teams failed to score north of 19 points with the Lightning holding off the Fireballs to just 16 points to finish the game 99-93. The fouls spells trouble for the Fireballs as the Lightning connected 17-20 on 21 fouls while the Fireballs rarely visited the free throw line 7-9 on 18 fouls.
The Lightning won behind veteran Pace LaGarde's 33 points, 6 steals, 5 assists and 3 rebounds. Stephan contributes 18 points and 7 assists and Antoine Hall drops 17 points and 10 rebounds. Fireballs was lead by Chris LaCruz 33 points, 10 assists, 4 steals and 3 rebounds followed by Devan Carroll's 15 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals. Off the bench Sidney Cavenell was perfect from the field with 13 points (4/4 FG, 2/2 3FG, 3/3FT) with 5 rebounds and 2 assists.
"We struggled early and it's hard to play catch up the whole game, we tried to put together some runs but it wasn't enough as they also played great defense. Not a good start for our road stretch but we hope to do better in the coming games." Assistant Coach Alton Wilkes said after the game.
BOX SCORE: http://jblfl.com/boxscore?game=13234
Fireballs Dominated by the Upbeat Drones
Drones - 120
Fireballs - 109
Drones didn't hold back hosting the Fireballs who just came off a close one in Houston as they showed great energy at home and sustained the good start of the Fireballs, LA scored 35 points in the 1st quarter while Drones was just within reach with 26 but the story of the game is the Drones steady scoring by the quarter as the Charlotte franchise scored 31, 30 and 33 respectively to take care of the Fireballs who can't hang with the high scoring Drones in Charlotte. The Drones controlled the pace and took advantage of the Fireballs continued shooting struggle shooting awful from the outside connecting 9-32 3FG while Charlotte was on point 11-19 3FG. They also controlled the inside with 56-48 lead on points in the paint.
Rookie wing Raef Williams II showed a glimpse of what we can expect in the future as the kid scored team high 34 points (14/18 FG, 4/6 3FG, 2/2 FT) while contributing 9 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks, using his size advantage against the smaller Jamal Wilkinson who struggled mightily vs the 6'8" RW2 shooting 1/10 FG, 0/5 3FG. Drones also got good production from Isaiah Leonard 21 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds while veteran Lucas Rush posted 19 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. The Fireballs got 41 points from Chris LaCruz while dishing 8 assists, grabbing 5 boards and getting 3 steals, Reggie Coleman also shot well scoring 26 points on 8/18 shooting, 6/12 3FG, Devan Carroll scored 20 points and added 7 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals.
"Well, the Drones are a very talented team and they paced the game well, that kid Raef Sr.'s son (Raef Williams II) was really good, he was poised and confident, he didn't look like a rookie and he won that matchup against Jamal (Wilkinson). We had a good game from Chris, Reg and Devan but it wasn't enough, we miss Sto' (Vitas) and hopefully he'll be back stronger soon." Assistant Coach Alton Wilkes commented after the lose.
BOX SCORE: http://jblfl.com/boxscore?game=13248
The Fireballs will be facing the struggling Nashville Stars (6-23) on the road Day 61 then will travel to Baltimore to face the gunslinging Bullets (14-16) team, which has the potential to be a high scoring affair.