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New Faces Help Skyforce in Win Over RimRockers

Sioux Falls 104, Arkansas 98

SIOUX FALLS, S.D., Jan. 12 – Experience proved invaluable as two NBA regulars helped Sioux Falls beat Arkansas 104-98 Friday night at the Sioux Falls Arena and extended the RimRockers losing streak to nine games.

Forward Amir Johnson, on assignment from the Detroit Pistons, and guard Stephen Graham, recently waived by the Portland Trailblazers, joined center Chad Bell as three players making their first Skyforce appearance of the season.

Johnson was close to a double-double with 18 points and nine rebounds to go with two blocked shots.

“You know I’m not surprised at all,” Sioux Falls Skyforce head coach Mo McHone said. “You can tell why he [Amir] is an NBA guy. You can tell why they signed him. For a guy 19 years old, he’s got a great upside.”

Graham came off the bench to contribute 20 points and three rebounds.

“As many new guys as we had and trying to do everything, I was just happy we won the game,” McHone said. “I knew we were going to have stretches where it wouldn’t be pretty.”

The final 1:30 proved to be the prettiest stretch for Sioux Falls as they used an 8-2 run to end the game after being tied at 96. The RimRockers’ mistakes proved to be their downfall as poor shooting and turnovers led to Skyforce points in the final minute, including an emphatic Vincent Grier dunk after a steal.

Arkansas had 34 turnovers and 24 personal fouls in the game but hung with Sioux Falls thanks to the play of Clay Tucker. The guard led the RimRockers with 19 points while center Marcus Campbell contributed 18 points and 11 rebounds. Sioux Falls couldn’t pull away either due to no outside shooting. The Skyforce was 0-for-10 behind the arc.

“They mixed up zone and man,” McHone said. “They didn’t just come out and play us in a straight zone or straight man-to-man. They had us confused.”

Forward Vincent Grier was the top scorer for Sioux Falls with 23. Center Jared Reiner posted a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds, including 15 points in the third quarter.

The Skyforce head to Idaho tomorrow night for an 8 p.m. tip while Arkansas hosts Anaheim at 7 p.m. Both teams will be back in Sioux Falls on Monday for the 2007 NBA D-League MLK Showcase.