Arsenal Leave Wizards Spellbound 106 - 97
Anaheim, Calif., January 5, 2008 - The Anaheim Arsenal looked to continue their home court winning ways when they faced the defending D-League Champions Dakota Wizards on Saturday night. Coming into the game, the Arsenal had won 4 straight home games, including a nail biting victory over the Albuquerque Thunderbirds the previous night.
Both teams started the game trying to establish their offenses inside the paint with early entry passes to their respective big men. Newly acquired Arsenal Center, Marcus Campbell, accounted for 12 Arsenal first quarter points with 6 field goals in the painted area. Guillermo Diaz came off the bench with 3:11 left in the quarter and provided an instant spark to the offense. On four consecutive possessions, Diaz added 10 points to the Arsenal scoring total by hitting 2 jumpers and recording two 3-point assists to Steven Smith. Diaz's offense gave the Arsenal a 26 - 20 lead at the end of first.
Led by 6-10 forward Rod Benson the Wizards came out with a stronger offensive showing in the second quarter. Benson finished the first half with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting and 2-of-2 from the free throw line. The Wizard defense also picked up the pace by forcing three consecutive Arsenal turnovers. This effort led to a 3-pointer by Maurice Baker that tied the score at 30 - 30 with 8:17 to go before halftime.
Following a timeout, the Arsenal players regrouped to close the second quarter with strong defense. The Arsenal defense created Wizard turnovers that resulted in fast break points. Among the fast break points were slam dunks by Kedrick Brown and Jamaal Thomas, which helped the Arsenal to another quarter ending 6-point lead, 52 - 48.
The Arsenal offense came out of the blocks after halftime, outscoring the Wizards 4-1 in the first four minutes of the third quarter. Kedrick Brown got things started with a jumper and threw down a high flying dunk off an assist by Will Blalock. Though the Arsenal came out strong, the Wizards were able to make little runs throughout the quarter to chip away and eventually take a 65 - 64 lead after a Kevin Lyde free throw with 5:29 left before the final period. After losing the lead, the Arsenal picked up their play with cohesiveness on both sides of the floor. Several Arsenal lay-ups and Wizard turnovers later, brought the score to a 78 - 73 Arsenal lead.
Hustle and quick play helped the Arsenal preserve their lead in the fourth. Marcus Campbell returned to his first quarter offensive form and added 3 blocked shots that set the tone throughout the quarter. The Wizards came within 5 points of the Arsenal with 4:10 left in the game, but could not get any closer due to strong Arsenal offensive rebounding and 5 missed free throw opportunities. The Arsenal on the other hand were able to capitalize on their free throws and finished the game with a 106 - 97 win, only missing 3 throws, hitting 26-of-29 from the line.
Arsenal head coach Reggie Geary said after the game, "They're a really good team. Our rebounds at the end of the game were the key to our victory, and that was a great accomplishment against the league's number one rebounding team."
Though six Wizard players scored in double digits, it was the play of Kedrick Brown and Marcus Campbell that made the difference in the game. Both players recorded double-doubles, Brown with 22 points and 11 rebounds, and Campbell with 21 points and 12 rebounds.
Brown had this to say, "I think we played well, we're finally starting to click. Last nights win gave us confidence going into tonight's game. We need to get on a roll and these two games certainly helped."
Regardless of great individual play, Assistant Coach Dean Murray best summed up the Arsenal team effort, "That was the best game we have played all season."
Anaheim will play its next game on Friday, January 11, 2008 vs. the L.A. D-Fenders at the Arena at the Anaheim Convention Center. The game will be an NBA Affiliation Night Game and will feature both teams wearing jerseys of their NBA Affiliates, the Los Angeles Clippers for the Arsenal and the Los Angeles for the D-Fenders. Tip-off is at 7:30 PM. For more information about the Arsenal, call (714) 635-BALL or visit www.anaheimarsenal.com.
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