By the time of the season opener, we've had a shuffle in the starting five to:
PG Mackel Greenleaf (Houston's 1st round pick this year)
SG Matt Carroll
SF Keith Davis
PF Rodney White
C Ken Johnson
Johnson erupts for 18 points, 24 rebounds, 2 steals and 3 blocks in our opening 93-65 victory over Albuquerque to take Player of the Game, but Brandon Hunter, angered at the demotion, double-doubled with 20 points and 11 rebounds from the bench.
B.J. Whitehead, yes, -that- B.J. Whitehead, the Utah Sixer, comes on board in Game 2 and takes over as the starting PF, but it's Mackel Greenleaf who provides the highlights with 19 points, 10 assists and 6 rebounds in the 78-66 triumph over the Colonials.
We get a back-to-back doubleheader with my old team, the Anaheim Cats, to begin December and my predictions of a weakened Anaheim team prove correct as we sweep them 96-70 and 93-83. Game 1 featured 20 bench points and 8 rebounds from Brandon Hunter, while a balanced scoring attack, led by 17 points from keith Davis, de-clawed the Cats in Game 2.
Our four game-win streak came to a painfully screeching end in a discordant duo of back-to-back losses. Arkansas topped us 77-69, while Tulsa beat us in a 102-96 shootout.
Dakota's a delightful doubleheader when we beat them 76-72 and 76-67. Keith Davis, now at SG, leads all scorers in the first game with 14 points, while B.J. Whitehead is first among Mammoths with 16 points in the second.
The joy of victory turns to the bitterness of defeat as we lose 83-76 to Sioux Falls, making it our third straight game of exactly 76 points.
We get the Commodores again the next game and drop a 92-90 heartbreaker, despite a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds from Brandon Hunter on the bench. Next night, even more demoralizing result: 90-76 defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Waves despite 20 points from Rodney White.
I'm not sure what's wrong with this team or how to snap it out of the three-game losing streak we're in, but if this goes on much longer, I'll have to make some adjustments.
Revenge against the Waves, an 88-85 heartstopper keyed by Keith Davis's 19 points.
Two days later, another aggravating loss by a single point to, of course, Sioux Falls. 76 to bleeping 75. I'm so disgusted I don't even want to look at the box score the next morning.
Another close game to end December, this time we the victors 88-86 over the Buckaroos as Aaron Gray comes out of nowhere to score 22 points from the bench.
And so, at year's end, we're 8-6, in 3rd place in the D-League East, four games back of those Sioux Falls bastards. We're only half a game out of second place, which is, of course, occupied by the Tejanos.
I appear to have been right about Anaheim, as the Cats are wallowing near the cellar in the West at 5-10.
Ken Johnson is tied for 4th in rebounds at 9.7 with Steven Wilkerson, whose Otters are in 1st place in the West. I'm kicking myself now for not going and getting Wilkerson back, who was a steady, consistent player in Anaheim and who has done much the same in Bakersfield, with 4 double-doubles already.
On the other hand, Johnson's also second in blocks per game with 2.5.
Forget about the NBA. We're so damned middling right now, I won't ever get a chance to sniff it anyway. I'll provide an update of NBA standings and leaders next time, after I race through another two months.
2006 Golden Scribe Nominee
2006 Golden Scribe Winner
Best Non-Sport Dynasty: May Our Reign Be Green and Golden (CK Dynasty)
Rookie Writer of the Year
Dynasty of the Year: May Our Reign Be Green and Golden (CK Dynasty)