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Venom From The Valley: RGV Splits Back to Back With LA

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After five days off, the Vipers came away 1-1 over a two-game, home back-to-back with the D-Fenders.

Gary Payton II has been an impact player all around for RGV: defensively, offensively, and on the glass.
Nathan Lambrech

Rio Grande Valley Vipers: 120

Los Angeles D-Fenders: 132

In the first night of the weekend double header with the Lakers D-League affiliate, the Vipers could not handle an all-around strong performance offensively from the visitors. The D-Fenders shot almost 60% from the floor as a team, and had three players reach 20 points. RGV was led by another big night from Isaiah Taylor. The former Texas Longhorn scored a game-high 35 points. JP Tokoto knocked down six threes — you read that right — finishing with 24 points total. The game also marked the return of Chris Johnson to the Vipers. The former D-League All Star returned to his old team, scoring 10 points on 3/11 shooting.

RGV Vipers: 116

LA D-Fenders: 115

Thankfully for RGV, they had an opportunity for quick revenge of their second loss. This time without Isaiah Taylor, a true team effort secured the one point victory. Seven players reached double figures, led by 18 from Le’Bryan Nash. Former Lakers guard Darius Morris tallied a double-double, 12 points and 10 assists for Rio Grande Valley. The Vipers scored 37 points in the final period, and survived Troy Devries missed attempt to win it for LA in the waning seconds.

Carson’s Commentary Trifecta:

  • Isaiah Taylor has been an absolute monster thus far. He has vaulted up into the top 15 on the D-League’s “Prospect Watch.” His improved jump shooting, added to his incredible athleticism has made him a nightmare for D-League defenders.
  • Surprising contribution of the week was that of Julien Lewis in Sunday’s game. He is not one of the top rotation guys for the Vipers, but he pitched in 12 points on 5/12 shooting, and was a strong defensive player as well in the win.
  • You will not find a better rebounding guard than Gary Payton II. He finished with a solid 6 rebounds on Sunday, but that’s lower than his 7.6 per game average, including three offensive boards. He and Patrick Beverley are two peas in a pod.

Rental Rockets Report:

Chinanu Onuaku:

11 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists on Saturday

14 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks on Sunday

Up Next:

12/3 @ LA D-Fenders

So, we meet again? Already the fourth meeting between the teams early in the season. The Vipers lead the series 2-1, including a win in El Segundo.

12/5 vs. Salt Lake City Stars

The Utah Jazz affiliate team has had a rough start, only one win in their first eight games. They are led by former NBA big man Henry Sims.