The Memphis Hustle hopes home cooking will get them into the win column for the first time Friday night, as the Landers Center portion of the 2018-19 schedule begins at 7 p.m. against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
Memphis opened the year last Saturday with a 119-103 loss to the Vipers in Edinburg, Texas. The road trip concluded Monday with a 126-125 defeat against the Skyforce in Sioux Falls, S.D.
In the season opener in Texas, The Hustle struggled to find the range in the first half, shooting just 34.8 percent from the floor and made just three three-pointers.
Memphis did go on a 12-3 run in a stretch of 1:08 of the fourth quarter in a final attempt to close the gap, but came up short as time ran out.
The Hustle’s Brandon Goodwin led all scorers with 29 points.
In South Dakota, Memphis had to recover from trailing 19-6 in the first 4:45 of the contest, but the Hustle took a 32-29 lead at quarter’s end.
The Skyforce took a 67-66 lead into the break at halftime but Memphis at one point in the third quarter had an 11-point lead, a margin also fashioned by a defensive performance of four blocked shots in the quarter alone.
Duncan Robinson’s three-pointer with 9.2 seconds remaining became the game-winner for Sioux Falls.
Jevon Carter led the Hustle with 29 points, including 20 in the second half, and Goodwin continued his early scoring success with 27.
Leading up to Friday’s home opener, the Hustle is continuing its “10 Days to Tip-Off” tour around DeSoto County, with a Thursday bus tour between 2-4 p.m. that will include stops for a shoot around with students, Cedar Hill Farm, Heartland Hands food pantry, and elsewhere.
There will also be an appearance for a pep rally Friday at Horn Lake Intermediate School, starting at 1 p.m.
At the game Friday night, the first 3,000 fans in attendance will receive Hustle headbands. Fans can sign their kids up for the all-new Memphis Hustle Kid’s Club and get in free to all six Friday home games, plus more great benefits.
At halftime, sport juggler Albert Lucas will perform and there will be a full team autograph session after the game.
HUSTLE GAMES ON ESPN+: The NBA G League and ESPN announced that more than 200 league games will be shown this season on the premium video streaming service ESPN+.
The first three weeks of the multi-year agreement will have two Hustle home games being made available. They are the Nov. 14 home game against the Windy City Bulls and again on Nov. 21 against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. The remainder of the schedule will be announced at a later date.
ESPN+ will show multiple NBA G League contests on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during the season. ESPN+ is a premium direct-to-consumer video service that subscribers, for a fee, can have access to its content.
NBA G League games, including those of the Hustle, are also available through Facebook Live broadcasts.
Bob Bakken is Sports Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.