The Fort Report: Mad Ants Clinch Playoff Berth
The Pacers should clinch a playoff spot within the next week, but their G League affiliate beat them to the punch. The Fort Wayne Mad Ants locked up a postseason berth on Tuesday night with a home win over the Wisconsin Herd.
With two games remaining on their regular season schedule, the Mad Ants are now 28-20 on the year and 1.5 games ahead of the Grand Rapids Drive (26-21) for first place in the Central Division.
In this year's playoff format, the three division winners and three wild-card teams (the non-division winners with the the best records) from each conference reach the postseason. The top two division winners in each conference will earn first-round byes. If the season ended today, Fort Wayne would have a bye, as they are two games ahead of the Southeast Division leaders, the Erie BayHawks (26-22).
The Mad Ants tipped off a four-game homestand last Friday with a 117-99 loss to the Canton Charge (Cleveland's affiliate). Jarrod Uthoff led Fort Wayne with 16 points and seven rebounds in the loss, while Stephan Hicks (15 points and 10 rebounds) and Pacers two-way forward Ben Moore (12 points and 10 boards) recorded double-doubles.
Mad Ants star guard Walter Lemon Jr. rejoined the team for the game after playing out two 10-day contracts with the New Orleans Pelicans. Lemon finished with 15 points and five assists in his first game back in Fort Wayne.
The Mad Ants climbed back into the win column the next night with a 115-96 win over Erie (Atlanta's affiliate). DeQuan Jones, the reigning G League Player of the Month and Slam Dunk Contest champion, led all scorers with 23 points, going 4-for-7 from 3-point range.
Five other Mad Ants players scored in double figures, including Lemon (19 points and six assists) and Uthoff (17 points and 10 boards). Moore added six points, seven rebounds, and six assists off the bench.
Jones was the star of the playoff-clinching performance on Monday night, racking up a career-high 42 points in a 121-107 win over the Herd (Milwaukee's affiliate). Jones went 12-for-21 from the field, 6-for-9 from 3-point range, and 12-for-13 from the free throw line.
Lemon added 20 points, 12 assists, and three steals, while Uthoff chipped in 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Lemon ranks sixth in the G League in scoring at 22.4 points per game, while Jones is now up to 28th at 18.2 points per contest. Lemon is also tied with fellow Mad Ants guard Tra-Deon Hollins for fifth in steals at 2.0 per game.
The Mad Ants close out the regular season with a pair of games this weekend. They will host the Windy City Bulls (Chicago's affiliate) on Friday night at 7:00 PM ET, then visit Erie on Saturday evening.
Stay tuned to Pacers.com for continued updates on the Mad Ants, and make sure to check out Pacers.com/MadAntsTV » to watch Mad Ants games free online.