The seventh seeded Canton Charge took Game 1 over the fourth seeded Sioux Falls Skyforce, 99-86, in the best-of-three NBA D-League Playoff series in front of 2,875 at the Memorial Civic Center on Thursday Night. The series will now move to Sioux Falls for Game 2 on Saturday night.
The home team pulled ahead 50-48 at the half thanks in large part to the play of their big men inside. Canton’s Shane Edwards scored 18 points, including 14 in the first quarter, while Arinze Onuaku netted nine points and grabbed 11 boards in the first half. Craig Smith scored 18 points for Sioux Falls at intermission after both teams traded blows for seven ties and five lead changes while shooting over 50%.
Neither team led by more than two possessions throughout the third quarter that featured an additional five ties and three lead changes. The Skyforce held the hosts to 7-of-18 shooting in the period (39%). The two top-scoring defenses in the regular season played like it, as the contest went into the final frame with the score knotted at 69-69.
Tied at 72-72 and 10:24 left in the game, the Charge came alive with a 9-2 run over a span of 2:01 that included six points off the bench from Re’mon Nelson and stops on the defensive end to go up 81-74. Sioux Falls then immediately bounced back by countering with a 7-1 run of their own by forcing four turnovers to pull within 82-81.
Holding a one point lead and 4:44 to play, Canton then rallied with the support of the home crowd to hit six consecutive shots on a 12-0 run over the next 2:21 for their largest lead of the game at 94-81.
The Skyforce missed seven of their final eight shots and trailed by double-digits the rest of the way. The Charge as a team hit 12-of-14 attempts in the fourth (86%) to improve their all-time home playoff mark to 4-1.
Edwards finished with a game-high 29 points on 14-of-19 shooting, eight rebounds and a steal in 35 minutes for Canton. Onuaku was punishing in the middle with 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting and a franchise playoff record 19 boards in 34 minutes. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ Scotty Hopson came off the bench to add 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting in 32 minutes, while fellow assignment Sergey Karasev added four points, seven rebounds and five assists in 24 minutes. Will Cherry netted 11 points with nine assists and three steals in 35 minutes.
Smith finished with 24 points on 11-of-19 shooting and two steals in 33 minutes to lead Sioux Falls. Tre Kelley netted 15 points on 7-of-14 shooting with four assists in 41 minutes. DeAndre Liggins netted 10 points with five rebounds and five steals in 41 minutes. The Skyforce finished the regular season at second in the league in opponent turnovers, which was reflected in the 24 miscues they forced from the Charge resulting in 29 points while surrendering the ball just nine times for 15 points.
Courtesy: Canton Charge Sean Wyatt