SIOUX FALLS, S.D., March 3 – Six players scored in double figures to help the Sioux Falls Skyforce hand the Bakersfield Jam a 119-113 loss Saturday at the Sioux Falls Arena.
The Skyforce moves to 20-15 on the year and into a tie with Fort Worth for second in the Eastern division. Bakersfield drops to 13-24. Sioux Falls has won five of its last six contests, including 2-0 under assistant coach Nate Tibbetts. Head coach Mo McHone is absent to attend Dennis Johnson’s funeral.
“It helps when you have good players,” Tibbetts said. “Coach Mo always tells me as long as my X’s are better than your O’s, I’m going to be a pretty good coach.”
Frank Williams led the Skyforce with 30 points and eight rebounds. Sioux Falls got quality play from everyone though, especially Amir Johnson and Will Blalock, both on assignment from the Detroit Pistons. Both had double-doubles as Johnson finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds while Blalock added 15 points and 11 assists.
“I think [Blalock] started to get comfortable with his teammates,” Tibbetts said. “It’s a little tougher being the point guard and trying to come in and understand the flow and rhythm of the game and how we want to play. He definitely took a step forward tonight.”
Stephen Graham scored 20, Damone Brown had 18 and Eddy Fobbs contributed 10 as the Skyforce almost led from wire to wire. Sioux Falls outscored the Jam by 11 in the first quarter but let Bakersfield close the margin in the second quarter.
“I thought we came out and played a great first quarter,” Tibbetts said. “The second quarter was not very good. I felt our guys were just kind of going through the motions. This team’s not good enough to do that. Bakersfield has got a really good team right now.”
Sioux Falls started the third on an 11-4 run and never looked back.
“I tried to challenge them as much as I could at halftime to come out in the second half with energy,” Tibbetts said. “I knew we were going to need all of it in the second half.”
Mateen Cleaves led Jam scorers with 27. Kevinn Pinkney added 17, while Scooter McFadgon and Anthony Coleman both had 14.
Sioux Falls travels to the Broomfield Event Center Sunday for a 6 p.m. MT tip against the Colorado 14ers.