LA Confidential: Road Trip Ended with Losses in Philly and Atlanta
- By Jron Magcale, Day 120, 2024
LOS ANGELES - The Fireballs ended their road trip with 2 straight loses after winning 4 straight, losing to the same team who cut their last 4-game winning streak recently the Philadelphia Warriors. It was a tough last 2 games that saw the Fireballs picking up momentum before the break. Before the 2 straight defeats the Fireballs have won 8 out of their 10 games and was sitting on a 4-game winning streak. The losses put them in tie with the St. Louis Skyhawks at 30-27 and 8th in the Western conference, currently still 4th in the Pacific Division. "We just need to grind it out after the break, we have been making progress but there will be setbacks and we have expected that. We'll try to keep pushing, Chris (LaCruz), 'Maine (Jamaine Curry) and Spence (James Spencer) are doing a great job leading this team and we're confident we can get things done, take it 1 game at a time." Coach Wilkes said about their team's playoff chances moving forward.
Day 116 (Away) - Warriors 134, Fireballs 133
The Fireballs again in the receiving end of a heartbreaker as they fall in Philly on a 'Zo Weaver's game winner with 3 seconds remaining in the game. The MVP frontrunner posted 46 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocks with a game score of 36.7 while Fireballs star PG Chris LaCruz who is an MVP candidate this season as well posted a game score of 40.5 and dropped 45 points, 9 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals, shooting 17/29 FG and 5/8 3FG. The game was controlled early by the Fireballs who opened up the 1st half scoring 42 and 35 consecutively for 77 points while the Warriors scoring 74. The game is tight through and through as both teams exhanges blows in the final 4:31 of the game eventually the Fireballs scored to take the lead 132-131 with 1:24 remaining, the Warriors splits a charity to tie the game and then the Fireballs also splits another free throw to take the lead with 9 seconds remaining 132-133 and that set up the game winner for Zo Weaver who hits the shot with 3 seconds remaining to beat the Fireballs 133-134. The game is definitely a candidate for game of the season. Reggie Dawkins posted 27 points and 17 rebounds while Ivan Obradovic posted a triple-double 16 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists while backup PG Chris Jensen sank 6/9 3FG for 18 points off the bench. The Fireballs got 22 points, 9 rebounds and 2 steals from Jamaine Curry and Cortez Ellison helped out with 19 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals, James Spencer posted a double-double 14 points and 12 rebounds.
KEY TAKEAWAYS: The Weaver-LaCruz battle was this game's biggest draw. But the Warriors scoring 19 points off turnovers and their 10 point advantage in the paint was the edge they have working for them. The game was tied 23 times and there were 10 lead changes. Weaver's game winner is easily the most important shot of this game, it didn't help for the Fireballs that they split the charity before the Weaver game winner.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: SF Alonzo Weaver, 46 points (20/36 FG, 3/11 3FG, 3/4 FT) 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocks. Weaver scored in variety of ways, he scored 12 points from 8 PnR BH plays, 9 points from 6 Transition breaks and posted up 6 times and scored 8 points. He was everywhere offensively and that didn't help the Fireballs cause. The MVP front runner is having a great season and having a game-winner in his resume certainly makes a case.
Day 118 (Away) - Atlanta 123, Fireballs 116
The Fireballs struggled in Atlanta as they play their last game before they go back home to host the Lightning. Devils PF Taquan Slattery recorded 30 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 blocks while off the bench athletic PG Kendrick Hill added 24 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks and 2 steals to secure a 123-116 win for the Devils who notched their 4th straight win. The Devils deep solid bench fortified their win as former starting SG Dominique Harmon added 17 points as well. The Devils have 3 former starters in Hill, Harmon and Aririguzoh now playing bench roles to spread their talent on those position as Deron Jameson, Ruben Wingate and Connor Maitland steps in to start. The Devils had a very balanced scoring all throughout the game posting 66 points in the 1st half and then closing it 57 in the second half. The Fireballs scored 18 points in the 1st quarter but had 44 points in the 2nd quarter, they opened up the 3rd scoring 38 points but then struggles in the 4th scoring only 16 points. The Fireballs got 32 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 1 block from Jamaine Curry while Fireballs All-Star PG added 28 points and 15 assists with 0 turnovers, James Spencer scored 12 points and grabbed 17 rebounds he also added 4 blocks.
KEY TAKEAWAY: The Fireballs clearly struggled opening and closing the game. The Devils was just too flexible with their rotation and too deep for the Fireballs to catch up. The Devils abused the inside scoring 76 points in the paint while the Fireballs only scoring 58. The Devils bench scored 61 points to the Fireballs 14 points.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: PF Taquan Slattery, 30 points (11/21 FG, 8/9FT), 13 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 blocks. Slattery loves the inside and he operated there all game long. He also was able to get everybody involved as evidence of his 6 assists, making the right passes when he was double-teamed. He posted 7 times and scored 10 points there, he also have 6 cut plays in which he scored 11 points from.
INJURY REPORT: SG Jamaine Curry was reported to have suffered a sore knee during their last team practice before the All-Star break and will miss 3-4 days for recovery. It is in good timing as the scoring guard will not miss any time off as he will be resting during the break and will be activate in time before they face the Lightning at home after. Sources says that Curry will not miss any games but his minutes will be monitored.
The Fireballs will go and host the Houston Lightning (8-49) at home on Day 121 after the break and then will visit Minneapolis on Day 123 to visit the Blizzards (22-37), in hopes to bounce back after the losses they suffer this sim.