A pair of roster moves highlighted an undefeated week for the Austin Spurs, as head coach Ken McDonald’s squad inches closer to clinching a playoff spot.
Sunday’s matinee against the Idaho Stampede was the ultimate back and forth matchup, with 10 lead changes happening in the third quarter alone. But a strong fourth quarter, led by the return of Orlando Johnson, who would propel the Austin Spurs to a 103-89 victory over the Stampede. The Spurs had all five starters score in double figures, with Johnson’s 21 points leading the way. But Austin’s defense was the real difference maker, holding Idaho to 0 of 12 from beyond the arc in the second half.
Tuesday would be more of the same as the Austin Spurs took on the Bakersfield Jam, but it was a new face who left his mark on the game for the silver and black. Six players scored double digits for the Spurs, led by newly acquired Brandon Fields’ 25 points in 28 minutes off the bench, en route to a 102-93 win over the Jam. Once again, Austin’s defense would be their biggest key to victory, holding the Jam to 28 percent shooting in the first half.
Fields was acquired by the Austin Spurs on March 3rd from the Idaho Stampede in exchange for a third round pick in the 2016 NBA D-League Draft. The 6-foot-4 Fields played in 36 games for Idaho and averaged 15.8 points, 4.4 assists and 3.6 rebounds this season. Fields is also no stranger to high levels of competition, with experience playing internationally in Romania, Morocco, Hungary and South Korea.
The second roster move that allowed Fields to shine on Tuesday night would be Johnson receiving another shot at the NBA, as the New Orleans Pelicans signed the forward to a 10-day contract. Johnson’s signing brings the Pelicans’ roster to 16, but no one will be released as the Pelicans were granted an injury hardship exception to bring Johnson aboard. In his previous 10-day contract stint with the Phoenix Suns, Johnson averaged 8.0 points and 4.5 rebounds in two games, but shot a meager 29 percent from the field.
Bryce Cotton’s stint in the Chinese Basketball Association has come to an end, as the Xinjing Flying Tigers were eliminated in a 3-0 sweep by the Sichuan Blue Whales, who advanced to the CBA Finals. Cotton averaged 21.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists in nine games for the Flying Tigers, while also channeling his inner Steph Curry overseas, with a .500/.531/.931 shooting line. No word yet on if Cotton will rejoin the Austin Spurs or pursue opportunities elsewhere.
The Austin Spurs matchup versus the Sioux Falls Skyforce, which was originally scheduled for March 15th at 6:30 p.m. has now been moved to March 14th at 7:00 p.m. The game will still be broadcasted live on YouTube from the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls. In addition, the Austin Spurs home game against the Texas Legends on March 24 will tipoff a bit earlier at 7 p.m. instead of 7:30 p.m., and will be broadcasted on ESPNU.
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