To start, let’s say goodbye to a Hustle player that’s served the team well over the course of the season so far. Yesterday, the Hustle waived forward Trahson Burrell, who had averaged 13.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. On the other side, Memphis acquired JJ Frazier all the way from JDA Dijon Basket in the French LNB Pro A, where he averaged 8.2 points, 2.6 assists, and 2.3 rebounds per game. Frazier started his basketball career with four years playing collegiate basketball at Georgia.
In terms of game news, the week started off strong with the Hustle riding their momentum from last weekend’s Marquis Teague-led win over the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Up next after Rio was the Austin Spurs, a game which on paper looked like a challenge with Austin sitting pretty atop the Western Conference standings. The game, however, wasn’t easy coasting. The Hustle struggled to contain the Spurs early on, with the Texans shooting 57.4 percent from the field in the first half. However, Memphis’ 19-8 run with the clock winding down to halftime closed the gap to a 70-61 scoreline in favor of Austin. The Hustle slowly gained ground over the course of the third quarter until pulling ahead at the very end at 90-89.
The Hustle maintained the lead for most of the fourth quarter until Austin pulled ahead at 111-110. Memphis, not to be deterred, went on a 10-0 run sponsored by two quick Jeremy Morgan three’s to restamp their authority on the game, closing out the score at 120-115. The victory was the result of a total team effort; eight Hustle players scored in double digits, with Burrell leading the charge with 21 points accompanied by nine rebounds and five assists. Chance Comanche pulled a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds, while Morgan, Shaquille Thomas, Durand Scott, and Dusty Hannahs all combined for 43 points. The collaborative scoring helped the team overcome what was as large as a 22-point gap.
Having turned the tables on the leading Western team, surely the Hustle would kick on and come out of the blocks quickly in the following matchup? Instead, the Hustle dug another hole, this one even deeper with a deficit standing at 24 points against the Wisconsin Herd. More remarkably, the Hustle went on to win the game by 19 points. That’s an incredible 43 point turnaround, one not hinted at by the 26.7% Hustle shooting from the first quarter. The second quarter didn’t fare much better, but the second half was where the Hustle finally came alive. This matchup saw the return of Memphis’ paint domination, with the team pulling down 16 offensive rebounds, and outscoring the Herd 26-10 in second chance points and 60-42 in the paint.
Marquis Teague scored 25 points and added five assists and five rebounds to his all-around performance, while Austin Nichols got a double-double off the bench with 20 points and ten rebounds. Burrell snagged his tenth double-double of the season with 16 points and 11 rebounds. The victory against the Herd meant that Memphis earned its third straight victory, each having seen the team come from at least 16 points down at one point. That right there is fighting spirit, and with the end of the season looming, it’s a great way to end on a high.
It’s probably too much of an ask to keep asking for huge comebacks, and thus the Hustle couldn’t pull out another one after falling to an early lead against the Iowa Wolves. This lead was the largest the Hustle faced in this stretch, standing at a whopping 26 points. Warning signs flashed early. With the Hustle trailing by one midway through the first quarter, the Wolves hunted down efficient scoring opportunities and rampaged through an 18-0 run. The Hustle did claw its way back to just a six-point deficit during the fourth, but that was as good as it got. The Wolves took this contest 108-98.
On his last game for the team, Burrell put up a meager six points on 2-8 shooting. Omari Johnson and Thomas did their best to buck up the Hustle, scoring 25 and 22 points respectively (a career high for Thomas). Two wins out of three, though, is a darn good return for the tough teams the Hustle had to play against. The fighting spirit is still there, so some more top teams might struggle when coming up against Memphis. For now, the Hustle have returned home to play Agua Caliente Clippers tonight in Southaven.