A long break doesn’t provide any respite for the Hustle
After a rough holiday game week, the Memphis Hustle needed to bounce back with a few strong performances. Unfortunately, they came up against two teams with hot hands and emerged with two losses.
Away to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Hustle didn’t necessarily have a bad offensive game, putting up 134 points. However, they still lost by 23, with the Vipers putting on a shooting clinic to rack up 157 points. A big part of that was Memphis’ inability to shut down Vipers’ guard Demetrius Jackson, who led scoring for both teams with 26 points.
Against the Vipers, the Hustle were always trailing. Rio Grande scored the first bucket of the game and didn’t look back from there, taking a 33-27 lead into the second quarter, where the Vipers then scored fifty points, essentially making it game over. On the Hustle side, Jordan Crawford had another standout game, leading the Hustle in scoring with 24 points. So far, though, Crawford’s high point totals have only come when his teammates struggle. Other than Chance Comanche’s 22 points and Vincent Hunter’s double-double, the Hustle didn’t have much to show for their performance. On the night, they just couldn’t stop the Vipers.
It was five days before the Hustle took to the court for their next matchup against the Lakeland Magic. It was a much closer affair, but the extra time off didn’t seem to help. The biggest kicker was that hey let the lead slip late in the fourth quarter when the Magic embarked on a 21-7 run to emerge 117-108 victors. A theme of the Hustle’s season has been their inability to close out tight games, and this was no exception.
Leading the charge on the night was Austin Nichols, who had a great night with 23 points on 10-14 shooting and nine rebounds. His partner in crime, Vincent Hunter, had another good game with 19 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists. Again, though, beyond that, the Hustle didn’t have anyone really step up. Kobi Simmons, on his return from the Grizzlies, played only 12 minutes and went 0-3.
The two losses mean that Memphis have now lost four on the spin. Three of those have come during the G-League Showcase. With performances like this, many Hustle players aren’t exactly endearing themselves to scouts. Perhaps, though, that added pressure has contributed to their poor run. Either way, something needs to change. If the players want to impress some scouts, they’ve still got another chance: the Hustle’s last showcase game comes on Saturday against the 12-12 Maine Red Claws.