The playoff pairings are set for the NBA G League postseason, which for the first time includes the Memphis Hustle.
The Hustle (28-22), which finished in fifth place in the Western Conference and runner up in the Midwest Division behind Oklahoma City, will head to Stockton, California to play the Kings on Wednesday, starting at 7 p.m. Central time.
The league announced all of the playoff pairings this past weekend. Memphis is the Western Conference’s number five seed and Stockton was seeded fourth. The winner of Wednesday night’s single-elimination contest meets top-seeded Rio Grande Valley in the second round.
Salt Lake City meets Oklahoma City is the other opening round contest with the winner to second-seed Santa Cruz for a second-round meeting.
The NBA G League plays single-elimination playoff contests to the championship round, which becomes a best-of-three series.
Friday night in a game that meant more to the Blue than to the Hustle, Oklahoma City led from start-to-finish in a 120-96 victory before the season’s largest crowd (2,518) at the Landers Center. Only the Financial Education kids’ day game drew more fans to see the Hustle play.
Oklahoma City (33-16) led by as much as 27 points in the second half of the win. Memphis never could mount much of a challenge, playing without Jevon Carter, Yuta Watanabe, Tyler Harvey and Tyler Dorsey, then saw Tarik Phillip and Doral Moore both leave the game injured, leaving Memphis using seven healthy players the rest of the night.
Hustle coach Brad Jones was to know before leaving for Stockton Tuesday morning what his playoff roster Wednesday might look like. But he also was aware some of the season’s key components might not be making the flight to California, staying back on the Memphis Grizzlies’ roster.
“They (the Grizzlies) believe in what we’re doing here with the Hustle and they’re going to support us in any way they can,” Jones said. “As important as development is and as important as the playoffs are, the team called the Grizzlies is a little more important. We’re here to do whatever it takes to help them be successful.”
Dusty Hannahs led the way for the Hustle Friday with 20 points and Markel Crawford scored 19, among five Memphis players in double figures. Nine Oklahoma City players reached double figures, led by Scotty Hopson with 18 points.
WEEKEND DIAMOND ACTION: In Saturday baseball action, DeSoto Central defeated Germantown, Tenn. 13-4 behind three runs scored by Kyle Booker and three RBIs from Mac Sims. The Jaguars moved to 15-2 for the season. Kossuth outslugged Olive Branch 11-8 Saturday, despite two doubles and two RBIs from Gavin Mink and four strikeouts from pitcher Alex Orman. Lewisburg blanked Independence 10-0 in six innings with Dylan Bond hitting a homerun among three hits and four RBIs. Dane Darby struck out six for the Patriots. Horn Lake scored a run in the top of the seventh inning to edge Senatobia Saturday. Sean Rice delivered a pair of RBIs while Travis Brewer struck out five on the mound. Lake Cormorant scored twice in the sixth inning and three more in the seventh inning of its 8-4 win against Byhalia and Cleveland Central outscored Southaven 5-4. Friday baseball winners included DeSoto Central, Lewisburg, Center Hill and Hernando in district play and Tipton-Rosemark over Northpoint Christian in TSSAA action.
Lewisburg softball is 13-0 for the year after Friday’s 3-0 shutout of defending 6A state winner DeSoto Central, and Southaven outbattled Center Hill 11-10 in a Friday slugfest, rallying from 8-0 behind after five innings.
CHARGERS WIN COUNTY TRACK MEET: Southaven won both boys’ and girls’ team championships at Saturday’s Bobby Rasco DeSoto County Track and Field Championships, this year named for the longtime starter for local track competitions. The Charger boys defeated second-place Center Hill 154-142 with Hernando third at 124 team points. Southaven took the girls’ team title 269.66-198 over second place Center Hill with DeSoto Central finishing third with 114.66.
SPORTS ETC.: Cameron Matthews of Olive Branch led the 4A/6A North boys with 20 points and Decorian Payton of 5A state champion Center Hill contributed 15 points more as the North defeated the South 88-83 in the Mississippi Association of Coaches All-Star basketball games Saturday at Mississippi College in Clinton. The South girls edged the North 69-66 in the 4A/6A All-Star contest also played Saturday, despite 20 points from Mississippi Gatorade Player of the Year Endya Buford of 5A state champion Olive Branch, 15 from Olive Branch teammate Bryneisha Eason and 15 more also from Hernando’s Alyssa Greer.
Bob Bakken is Sports Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.