Thunderbirds Advance to D-League Playoffs for Second Straight Season
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., April 13, 2007 - The defending champion Albuquerque Thunderbirds advanced to the NBA Development League Championships presented by Delta Air Lines for the second consecutive season tonight with a 121-112 win at Colorado. The win tonight guaranteed the third seed in the Western Division bracket of the D-League postseason and a return trip to Colorado on Wednesday, April 18.
This season the D-League playoffs have been expanded from two rounds to three, with six teams now qualifying. The playoffs are a single-game elimination tournament where the top three teams from each division qualify.
The division winners receive a first-round bye, and will host the winner of the first-round game between the second and third seeds. The teams with the higher seeds will host in each round. Idaho will await the winner of Wednesday's game in Broomfield on Friday, April 20 after winning the Western Division title. Sioux Falls will host Fort Worth on Tuesday, April 17 in the first round of the Eastern Division bracket, with the winner of that game going to Bismarck to face top-seeded Dakota on Saturday, April 21.
Joe Shipp led all Thunderbirds scorers with 25 points, followed by Julius Hodge, who came up just short of a triple-double with 22 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. The game had the early makings of a blowout, with Colorado heading into the locker room at halftime leading 66-42. Coach Cooper's Thunderbirds came roaring out in the third quarter with a 42-24 run to bring Albuquerque back within six points of the 14ers going into the final period.
The remainder of the game was a see-saw battle, with the Thunderbirds nailing down the final D-League postseason spot and improving to 5-1 against Colorado this season.
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