Rio Grande Valley Vipers: 133
Los Angeles D-Fenders: 120
In their first contest away from home, RGV comfortably defeated the LA Lakers D-League affiliate. The two offensive stars were Isaiah Taylor and Kyle Wiltjer, scoring 31 and 26 respectively. Wiltjer didn’t hit his first shot until the middle of the second quarter, when he knocked down four straight jumpers.
Despite the Lakers assigning 7-foot-2 Ivica Zubac, the Vipers also did a lot of damage down low. Houston Rockets assignee Chinanu Onuaku finished with 14 points to go along with 22 rebounds. He was 6/6 from the floor and added two blocked shots. Reserves Chris Walker and Joshua Smith were both effective scoring on the block, combining for 22 points in just 17 minutes. Zubac eventually fouled out for the D-Fenders. Gary Payton II and JP Tokoto also got heavily involved on the glass, both finishing with double-digit rebounds.
RGV Vipers: 110
Santa Cruz Warriors: 112
There goes the undefeated season! The Vipers dropped a tough one in North California, as Phil Pressey and the Warriors held on for the two-point win. The Vipers got another big night from speedy point guard Isaiah Taylor, tallying a game high 30 points, along with 11 dimes. Kyle Wiltjer had an off night shooting, finishing with 15 points on an abysmal 6/23 from the floor. They were also without their usual big contributions from Le’Bryan Nash, eight points, and PJ Hairston, inactive with a minor injury.
RGV Vipers: 108
Erie Bayhawks: 80
Whether it was the loss of star Anthony Brown, signed by the New Orleans Pelicans, a terribly executed game plan, or just a flat-out off game, Erie did not show up against the Vipers. 108 marked the lowest scoring night so far for Rio Grande Valley, but they still beat the Bayhawks by 28. Erie shot 36 percent from the floor, and 15 percent from three-point range, leading to an eye-opening, 80-point performance. No single player exploded for the Vipers: PJ Hairston finishing with a team high 16. Gary Payton II and Chinanu Onuaku each recorded another double-double. Isaiah Taylor was held to 11 points and 8 assists.
Carson’s Commentary Trifecta:
- Dayton alum, and NBA vet, Chris Johnson has joined the Vipers as a returning player. He was a D-League All Star in 2014, and was a big part of the 2013 championship team. Johnson will be a big addition to an already incredibly talented roster.
- Nanu Onuaku has been a hot topic with his underhanded free throws. The youngster from Louisville’s free throw style is mentioned in every broadcast, and sometimes snickered at by fans. Unfortunately for the opposing fans, but good news for Houston, he’s been a monster on the glass, and is getting better every day.
- Le’Bryan Nash is a big key to the Vipers offensively. The former Oklahoma State guard can score at will, and needs to be assertive in his time on the court. The duo of Isaiah Taylor and Nash could become one of the toughest to stop in the D-League.
Rental Rockets Report
Kyle Wiltjer :
16.7 points per game on 33 percent shooting last week in three games.
11.7 points and 13.7 rebounds per game last week, including a 22-rebound night against L.A.
Nov. 26 and Nov. 27 vs. Los Angeles D-Fenders
These teams will be meeting for the second and third time in just over a week. RGV took the first matchup 133-120 on the road. That is the D-Fenders’ only loss so far in 2016-17.