Mad Ants’ defense up for victory
For a handful of moments, it looked as if the Mad Ants might have another slow start. But the defensive intensity : something they talked about being a cornerstone of this year’s team : kicked in Tuesday night.
DeQuan Jones, who has NBA time with the Orlando Magic on his résumé, totaled four of the Mad Ants’ seven shot blocks and they went on to defeat the Greensboro Swarm 105-93 in the first home game of Fort Wayne’s 11th season.
There were nine Fort Wayne steals, rookie Ben Moore sailing over the scorer’s table to save a ball from going out in the second quarter and 25 points from Walter Lemon Jr. in front of 4,234 fans.
Lemon made 10 of 17 shots and had seven rebounds, four assists and three steals.
The Mad Ants (1-1), who got 23 points fro Jarrod Uthoff, play host to Raptors 905 at 7 p.m. Friday. Jones had eight points.
Greensboro (1-1) was paced by Marcus Paige’s 18 points.
The Mad Ants lost their season opener 115-99 Saturday to the Long Island Nets in Uniondale, New York, though they recovered from a 22-point second-quarter deficit to get within two points. Lemon totaled 34 points in that game.
The Mad Ants got off to another slow start, falling behind 10-3 before their defensive intensity kicked in with a Jones block of a T.J. Williams lay-up. Jones then sent a 50-foot pass to Stephan Hicks in the corner for a 3-pointer. He made the shot but was fouled beforehand by Luke Petrasek. Hicks made the three free throws instead, and his steal and immediate lay-up have Fort Wayne a 12-10 lead as it continued a 12-0 run.
A successful Jones hook shot, followed by a Lemon fast-break, put the Mad Ants up 31-24 at the end of the first quarter.
Adam Woodbury, the 7-foot-1 center who played sparingly last season because of a back injury, sent a pass through the paint for a Moore lay-up and a 41-37 lead : a decisive response to a steal and dunk by Greensboro’s Charles Cooke with 3:33 left in the second quarter.
Lemon converted seven of first 12 shots for 18 points and his pass that set up Uthoff for a baseline jumper with 5:10 left in the third quarter put Fort Wayne up 70-58. And the lead grew to 76-61 when Moore scooped the ball in with his back to the basket and 2:52 left in the quarter.
Lemon’s steal at mid-court : his third steal of the game : and then sprint for a lay-up put the Mad Ants up 95-83 with 4:50 left in the fourth.
Notes: The Mad Ants were without Alex Poythress, who is with the NBA’s Indiana Pacers, Edmond Sumner (knee/shoulder) and Trey McKinney Jones (shoulder). ... Some members of the Pacers’ front office were in attendance, including senior vice president of basketball operations Peter Dinwiddie and Tamika Catchings, the former Indiana Fever WNBA star, who is the Pacers’ director of player programs and franchise development.