The lineup is about the change greatly for the Mad Ants.
So they’ll need more performances like the one they got from Tony R. Mitchell tonight, when he had 25 points on 8-of-15 shooting in a 118-103 victory over the Bakersfield Jam at Memorial Coliseum.
From 3-point range, he was 5 of 6.
It was an up-and-down game in which Fort Wayne’s 18-point first-half lead was whittled down to two points by halftime, before the Mad Ants came storming back in the third quarter.
According to Mad Ants president Jeff Potter, all three of the NBA players in the Mad Ants lineup – Orlando Johnson of the Indiana Pacers, plus Detroit Pistons Peyton Siva and the other Tony Mitchell – are returning to their respective teams Thursday.
So the Mad Ants (18-12), who had lost two of their previous three games, will have a much different lineup Thursday night at the Coliseum against Sioux Falls (19-11).
The three NBA players were in the starting lineup Wednesday but it was Tony R. Mitchell, off the bench, who got things going for the Mad Ants.
In the course of a 24-13 run, which put Fort Wayne up by 11 points at 42-31, Tony R. Mitchell, the D-League’s reigning Rookie of the Year, had 15 points.
And he did it in myriad ways – a fallaway shot off the glass, a trio of 3-pointers and a dunk.
Trey McKinney-Jones’ underhand pass set up Chris Porter for a layup and Fort Wayne’s biggest lead – 18 points – at 51-33 with 7:24 remaining in the second quarter.
But Bakersfield (12-20) clawed its way back, led by James Nunnally, who had 31 points in the first half on 12-of-16 shooting.
With 1.8 seconds remaining in the half, he intercepted Darnell Lazare’s baseline inbounds pass and made a shot from mid-court, which was reviewed by officials for several minutes before it was deemed to have taken place before the buzzer to cut the Fort Wayne lead to two at 62-60.
The Mad Ants reestablished their lead with back-to-back 3-points from Johnson and Siva, giving them a 78-69 lead with 6:15 left in the third quarter. And the tempo remained in Fort Wayne’s favor; Ron Howard stole an in-bounds pass underneath the basket and fed it to Tony R. Mitchell for a lay-up and a 103-90 lead with 7:51 remaining in the game.
Johnson had 23 points. Howard added 20.
For Bakersfield, Nunnally finished with 43 points.
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