Tim Cato and I were in attendance at last night's Texas Legends vs. Los Angeles D-Fenders game to watch Shane Larkin, Bernard James and Jae Crowder in action for what was (for the moment) a one-day stint.
(I may also have been in attendance to watch Xavier Henry play for the D-Fenders, but y'all don't care so much about that.)
This was Larkin's second game with the Legends this year, and the first for Crowder and James. As expected, the Mavs have already recalled all three from the Legends for tonight's game and sent Ricky Ledo back down.
Bernard James was far and away the star of the night for the Legends. Sarge had 38 points on 18-20 shooting, 18 rebounds and four blocks. 38 points ties his career high set at Tallahassee Community College, and 18-20 shooting is certainly a Brandan Wright-esque model of efficiency. It was really nice to see the big man shine in a game, since he hasn't had much playing time this season.
James commented after the game that he has put on 15 pounds of muscle since the start of the season (!), but had a little fun with the fact that he hadn't played a full game in a while:
I was gassed! I'm in great shape, I run every day...but it's different when you've got that adrenaline going out there...had to catch a second wind, and had to catch a third wind.
Sarge also commented that he wouldn't be surprised if he and the others were back down in the D-League for another game at some point, just to keep them sharp:
You never know who you're going to need...they're just trying to keep us ready for [the playoffs].
Let's talk Jae Crowder, since that was probably the more surprising of the three assignments. Crowder had 23 on 7-18 shooting, 18 rebounds, 10 assists and five turnovers. A triple-double, only the second for the Legends this year. But as our own Andrew Tobolowsky pointed out last night on Twitter, the rebounds and assists are great, but 23 on 7-18 might indicate he still has some shooting issues to work through.
Crowder commented after the game on his assignment:
Something new for me. I played all last year, have been benched here lately, and I've been taking it kind of hard. But it's the business. I gotta do what I gotta do -- come in and go to work every day...look forward to getting back on the court....[and] looking forward to getting back in the rotation and getting the trust of my teammates back.
And on his triple-double helping his confidence:
It helps for sure. I've not been able to play the way I'm capable of playing downtown, so getting the triple double tonight really gave me the confidence I need to show that I haven't lost it and that I can still play basketball
He also commented that towards the end of the game, "the guys on the bench were having fun with it" (the fact that he was close to a triple-double) and encouraging him to go for it.
That's one of my goals coming down here, to show [Coach Carlisle] that I have not swayed one bit on my confidence in my game, and that I feel I can play basketball at a high level. They sent me down on assignment and I feel like I competed.
Carlisle did note in his press conference the other day that one of the things they like about Ellington (that distinguishes him from Crowder) is his shooting ability. Getting some additional time down in the D-League to work on his shot would probably be beneficial to Crowder, especially if, as Carlisle hinted the other night, the plan is to move forward with Ellington.
Shane Larkin, just to round things out, had nine points on 4-12 shooting with nine assists and five turnovers. Maybe not the best line, but he joked after the game that he was working on getting Crowder his triple-double towards the end (which caused one of the turnovers). Nice to see him encouraging a teammate on a night that may have been a little of a humbling experience for Jae.
The Legends do play again on Saturday, and with the Mavs traveling just down south in San Antonio on Sunday, there have been some unconfirmed rumblings that this little merry-go-round may happen again for that game. Stay tuned.