The answer to the entomology question is yes: Ants can jump.
In fact, the Mad Ants leapfrogged Maine in the East Division of the NBA Development League standings Thursday with a convincing 107-93 victory over the Red Claws at Memorial Coliseum.
The Ants (22-21) not only moved to a game above .500 and took third place away from Maine, but they also climbed to within a half a game of Sioux Falls (22-20) and Erie (23-21) in the chase for the eighth and final playoff berth – a place where no Fort Wayne team has been in this, its sixth year in the D-League.
All I told our guys after the game is we won the first game of this three-game playoff series, and now we’ve got to pick up another one, first-year coach Duane Ticknor said.
Austin’s (23-18) coming in here. It’s a really good basketball team that’s ahead of us in the standings, and we’ve got to be ready to go. We can’t be satisfied with (Thursday). We’ve got to move on to the next game.
Which is 7:30 p.m. today at the Coliseum.
Thursday’s game featured a basketball rarity in which three teammates had double-doubles in points and rebounds.
Although Ron Howard led the way in scoring with 20 points, and Tony Mitchell was close behind with 19, Brandon Wallace had 16 points and 13 rebounds, Tommy Smith had 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Terrance Thomas had a dozen boards and a dozen points.
Before the game, coach told us that was one of the big keys to winning the game – to come out and rebound, said Smith, who had three steals, three assists and two blocked shots. Obviously, we came out and took care of business.
The Ants stomped Maine on the glass, 57-38.
Our bigs were tremendous, Ticknor said. Tommy, Brandon and Terrance off the bench were just fantastic.
It wasn’t such a fantastic start for the Ants, who committed five turnovers in the first four minutes, prompting a timeout from an irritated Ticknor. As it was, Fort Wayne had 10 of its uncharacteristic 20 turnovers in the first quarter.
In spite of all our turnovers (Thursday), we kept competing, Ticknor said. I thought our defense was probably the key to the game. It triggered the fast break, and we got out and ran and converted in transition, but our work on the boards was probably the big difference; that and our defensive effort.
Note: Forward Chris Porter was not in attendance because of the flu. He is questionable for tonight.