The Memphis Hustle took another step toward its first-ever NBA G League playoff appearance Monday night with a 126-115 victory over the Sioux Falls Skyforce at the Landers Center in Southaven.
Tyler Dorsey led six players in double figures with 27 points for the 25-21 Hustle, while sending Sioux Falls to its eighth straight defeat.
The victory moved the Hustle into the fifth spot in the Western Conference standings, one-half game ahead of Salt Lake City and 6.5 games behind frontrunning Santa Cruz.
The loss dropped the slumping Skyforce into eighth place, eight games behind Santa Cruz and a game in back of Salt Lake City.
The top six teams at the end of the season make the G League playoffs.
Memphis came out firing Monday, coming up two points short of a franchise record for points in a quarter, as the Hustle took a 43-28 lead, led in part by a 13-0 run after Sioux Falls opened with an 8-2 start to the game.
Sioux Falls started chipping away at the lead in the second and third quarters, however. The Skyforce cut the deficit to 70-57 at halftime and cut the lead to 96-90 after three quarters. Memphis outscored Sioux Falls 30-25 in the final 12 minutes to clinch the victory.
For Dorsey, a Memphis Grizzlies’ assignee, it was a quick turnaround to play with the Hustle, a team he hadn’t played or practiced with before.
“It’s tough, but it’s part of the job,” Dorsey said. “I’m ready to go whenever because I love playing basketball. Just taking care of my body and just being ready. When I go out there, I’m going to play hard and the game will take care of itself.”
Dorsey came to Memphis as part of a trade with the Atlanta Hawks on Feb. 7 that send Sheldon Mack to Atlanta.
Yuta Watanabe scored 26 points and added 11 rebounds for Memphis, his second straight double-double. Jevon Carter had a double-double for points and assists, with 19 points and 11 helpers. Tarik Phillip scored 15 points, Julian Washburn 11 and Doral Moore 10 to round out Memphis players in double figures.
As the Hustle hit the road for an important three-game trip that begins Friday in Oklahoma City, coach Brad Jones said he is more concerned about how the team plays and not where it sits in the standings.
“Two of the four teams are going to make it and hopefully we’re going to be one of them,” Jones said. “The standings will take care of themselves if we take care of us.”
The upcoming road swing will be important because it will involve visits to Oklahoma City, a return game at Sioux Falls and then at Salt Lake City before the home finale March 22 against Oklahoma City.
Bob Bakken is Sports Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.