Watanabe leads Hustle win over Warriors

Yuta Watanabe of the Memphis Hustle scored 19 points and added 10 rebounds for the only double-double in his team's easy 122-92 win over the Santa Cruz Warriors on Monday, Jan. 13. Dusty Hannahs led the Hustle with 21 points in the NBA G League victory.

Monday night, the Memphis Hustle literally ran away from a two-game losing streak and Santa Cruz (Warriors) at the same time in Memphis’ 122-92 demolition of the Warriors at Southaven’s Landers Center.

At one point in the game, Memphis (18-6) held a 48-point lead against Santa Cruz (14-10) and were never tied or trailed in the contest. With the victory, the Hustle took a 6.5 game lead over the Iowa Wolves in Western Conference’s Midwest Division and again found itself mere percentage points behind Salt Lake City (Jazz) for the number one position in the Western Conference.

Meanwhile, Santa Cruz dropped four games behind Memphis and Salt Lake City in the conference standings and is one-half game behind first-place Stockton at the top of the Pacific Division standings.

It was Memphis from the start, as the Hustle held a 36-24 lead at the end of the first quarter and led by as much as 14 in the first 12 minutes.

“We came out, we shared the ball, we played very unselfish with 27 assists,” said Hustle coach Jason March. “The ball was moving around and it was great. I was very happy with the way we played.”

In the second quarter, Memphis took a 20-point lead as it tied a franchise high for points in a half with 79, leading 79-36 at the break after holding the Warriors to only 12 points in the second quarter, a season low in offense for the Hustle opponent this year.

Memphis hit 100 points with 4:22 left in the third quarter after a Dusty Hannahs’ basket inside and took a 104-65 advantage into the fourth quarter.

The 48-point bulge in the third quarter at 95-47 became the largest lead of any NBA G League team this season.

Hannahs led the game in scoring with 21 points, one of five Hustle players scoring in double figures. Marko Gudurić, a Grizzlies’ assignment player, found the range for 20 points, while Yuta Watanabe finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds for the night’s only Memphis double-double. Josh Jackson scored 17 points and Bruno Caboclo, another Grizzlies’ assignment player, scored 15 points before leaving the game with an injury in the second half.

Former Grizzlies guard Andrew Harrison led the Warriors with 18 points.

A season-long seven-game home stand continues Friday night at the Landers Center with the Hustle hosting South Bay (Lakers) at 7 p.m.

HOLLIS-JEFFERSON WAIVED: Tuesday afternoon, the Hustle announced that the team had waived Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson. He appeared in 18 games for the Hustle, averaging 5.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 18.0 minutes per game while shooting 50.0 percent from the field.

Bob Bakken is Sports Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.