Late rallies by the opposition hit the Memphis Hustle twice in the team’s first back-to-back contests of the NBA G League season Saturday and Sunday. With losses at home to the South Bay Lakers on Saturday and at the Iowa Wolves on Sunday, Memphis dropped to 5-6 for the season and fell into a tie for eighth place in the Western Conference standings with Agua Caliente and Salt Lake City.
On Saturday, a layup by South Bay’s Alex Caruso, followed the Hustle’s Markel Crawford missing on his reverse layup attempt at the buzzer gave the visiting Lakers a 96-94 victory at the Landers Center in Southaven.
The loss spoiled Crawford’s career-high 23 point performance with the Hustle.
“The one thing about Markel is he brings it every night,” Hustle coach Brad Jones said about Crawford. “He saw an opportunity to step up and he tried to step up for us. But our whole group has to get better collectively getting organized offensively.”
In addition to Crawford’s 23 points, Dusty Hannahs scored 20 for Hustle.
Memphis failed to score 100 points for the first time in the season, while South Bay improved to 5-7 and won its third straight game.
South Bay took a 21-18 lead after one quarter, but Memphis drew within 45-43 at halftime.
The Hustle came out in the third quarter and grabbed a 76-69 advantage heading into the final quarter, but South Bay held the Hustle to just 18 points in the final 12 minutes to take the victory.
Sunday night in Des Moines, Iowa, the Hustle dropped a 114-109 result to the Iowa Wolves, as the home team generated a late run to recover from a seven-point deficit.
It was Tyler Harvey’s turn to lead Memphis Sunday night with a 27-point effort, which was two points short of a career high for him.
Hannahs had his second straight performance of 20 or more points with 20 points. Two-way player Yuta Watanabe’s 11 points and 11 rebounds gave him his first Hustle double-double.
Minnesota assignee Keita Bates-Diop led Iowa with 27 points.
Iowa led Memphis 31-24 after one quarter but the Hustle rallied with a late 9-0 run to tie the game 52-52 at halftime.
Memphis took an 84-79 lead into the fourth quarter, but Iowa went on a 10-0 run during the quarter and went on to pick up the victory.
The Hustle are back at the Landers Center Saturday night for their next action, when they face the Grand Rapids Drive at 7 p.m. It will be the team’s first Hustle and Hounds Night, where all dogs (maximum of two per group) will receive free admission.
Grand Rapids enters the week also with a 5-6 record, good for a tie for seventh in the NBA G League’s Eastern Conference standings.
Bob Bakken is Sports Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.