Vipers strike early and often to defeat Spurs


HIDALGO – New year, same problems for the Austin Spurs, as the silver and black fell to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, 126-118.

The duo of Dejounte Murray and Bryn Forbes, on assignment from San Antonio, combined for 46 points, nine rebounds and six steals. Unfortunately, the two guards also committed 11 of the Spurs 23 turnovers to go with nine total fouls.

Austin’s bench unit managed to keep the Spurs afloat for a majority of the game, led by Patricio Garino and Charles Garcia, who each had 16 points. Livio Jean-Charles added 14 points and eight rebounds in 30 minutes.

On the other side, three players scored over 20 points for the Vipers. JP Tokoto nearly recorded a double-double, as the high-flying forward finished with 28 points and nine rebounds. Darius Morris struggled from beyond the arc, but still had 25 points and eight assists in 39 minutes. Former Utah Jazz forward Chris Johnson impressed potential NBA suitors with 22 points and 12 rebounds.

The final score has the makings of a close game, but Rio Grande Valley dominated Austin entirely from the opening tip. Vipers guard Gary Payton II had 10 points in the first four minutes of action, leading to a 14-2 run to start the game.

Rio Grande Valley extended a 16-point first quarter lead to as large as 19, before Murray and Jean-Charles cut the Vipers lead to a manageable 15 points by halftime.

Austin’s offense continued to trudge along in the second half, before Spurs head coach Ken McDonald received a technical foul for arguing a call that sparked his team into a 33-point quarter. After the technical, the Vipers saw their 25-point lead dissipate to just 10 points heading into the final frame.

Forbes hit his first 3-pointer of the game with 10 minutes remaining in the game, eventually bringing the Spurs to within three points. But Austin’s fourth quarter heroics would only be temporary, as the Vipers used a 9-2 run spanning two minutes to seal an eight point victory.

Coming up next for the Austin Spurs (8-12) will be a Sunday matinee back home against the Santa Cruz Warriors (10-8). Tipoff is at 3 p.m. CST from the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, with the game being broadcast live on the D-League’s Facebook, and on Fox Sports Southwest with Andrew Monaco and Ruth Riley on the call.


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