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Wizards lead wire-to-wire in blowout of T-Birds

BISMARCK, N.D. -- Everyone knows about the prowess of the Dakota Wizards’ Hasheem Thabeet on the defensive end of the floor. Making his home debut, the big man on assignment from the Memphis Grizzlies showed a big crowd on Tuesday night a versatile offensive game to along with that presence in the middle. Thabeet finished with a team-high 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the floor and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead the Wizards to an easy 109-81 win over the visiting Albuquerque Thunderbirds. He was also a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line.

The Wizards started the game on a 9-2 run and never looked back. Thabeet’s presence in the post forced the Thunderbirds to alter many of their shots and settle for outside jumpers. The result was a dismal 36.1% shooting night from the field. Dakota went on an 18-1 run to finish the first half and held Albuquerque to 34 points at the break. The Thunderbirds found themselves down by a score of 56-34 heading into the locker room.

Albuquerque continued to struggle to keep the Wizards out of the lane and off the glass in the second half. Dakota outrebounded the Thunderbirds 48-34 in the game, got to the basket at will and scored on a variety of layups, dunks, and alley-oops. All told, the Wizards outscored their opponents 70-38 in the paint on the night. Dakota pushed its lead to as many as 32 points in the fourth quarter before easily putting away the big win.

Thabeet’s fellow Memphis Grizzlies assignee Lester Hudson had a big game of his own for the Wizards, scoring 14 points and dishing out eight assists. Renaldo Major also had 14 points for Dakota while Cheyne Gadson had 11 points on an efficient 5-of-6 from the field to go along with seven assists. Keith McLeod led the Thunderbirds with 25 points with teammate Shane Edwards chipping in 21 of his own.

These two teams will meet again tomorrow night at 7:00pm at the Bismarck Civic Center. To recognize #2 overall NBA Draft pick Hasheem Thabeet playing in his first games at home, all General Admission seats will be priced at $2 for tomorrow’s contest.