Bulls' NBA D-League affiliate Iowa Energy goes for title tonight
The Iowa Energy, the NBA Development League affiliate of the Chicago Bulls and Phoenix Suns, can win their first NBA Development League Championship with a win over the Rio Grande Valley Vipers tonight in Game 3 of the NBA D-League Finals at 7 p.m. CT. The game, featuring many top NBA prospects, will be televised nationally on VERSUS on Saturday at 12 a.m. CT.
Iowa, led by NBA D-League Coach of the Year Nick Nurse, defeated the Vipers, 123-106, in Game 1. But Rio Grande Valley, the defending NBA D-League champion, evened the series with a 141-122 win in Game 2 in front of a record crowd of 14,036 at Wells Fargo Arena. Iowa features point guard Curtis Stinson, the NBA D-League MVP, who logged consecutive triple-doubles in each of the first two Finals games. Former Missouri star Stefhon Hannah added 20 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds. Iowa also features Michael Haynes, who scored 24 points in Game 2, and Moses Ehambe, who scored 33 points on Wednesday.
Rio Grande Valley, meanwhile, is attempting to become only the second repeat champion in NBA D-League history. Leading the Vipers will be All-NBA D-League Third Team guard Jerel McNeal, who had 37 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in Game 2. The Vipers, affiliated with the Houston Rockets, also feature former Duke All-American Jon Scheyer, former Colorado standout Richard Roby, who scored 28 points in Game 2, and forward Mouhammad Faye, who led the team with 22 points and nine rebounds in Game 1. Rockets' center Marcus Cousin is also currently assigned to Rio Grande Valley.
At the end of the NBA regular season, 23 percent of all NBA players had NBA D-League experience, including Chicago's C.J. Watson and John Lucas III. In its 10th season, the NBA D-League saw a record 25 NBA teams assign an all-time high 39 NBA players to their NBA D-League affiliates, while 45 percent of the 2010 NBA Draft class played in the NBA D-League this season.
VERSUS' NBA D-League Finals Schedule (subject to change):
Fri., April 29, Rio Grande Valley at Iowa, 8 p.m. ET (Air time: 12 a.m. CT, Saturday)