FORT WAYNE – Nothing had come easy for the Mad Ants this season. Each of their first 10 games had been decided by no more than four points.
On Thursday night, the Mad Ants got their first taste of a blowout. And they were on the good end of it.
Paced by Trey McKinney-Jones’ 28 points, they defeated the Reno Bighorns 114-89 at Memorial Coliseum.
The Mad Ants (6-5), who have won five consecutive games, were particularly sharp from 3-point range, making 12 of 21. Leading them from beyond the arc was Sadiel Rojas, who was 4 of 6 en route to his 21 points.
We were due, I think so, said McKinney-Jones, who made 3 of 5 shots from 3-point range, pulled down 10 rebounds and had two thunderous dunks in the fourth quarter that brought the crowd of 1,736 to its feet.
We’re playing pretty well. It’s been five games now of us clicking on offense and defense, so I figure, yeah, we were definitely due.
Fort Wayne’s Ron Howard had 17 points, enough to move him into sole possession of fifth place on the D-League’s all-time scoring list. He’s now at 3,561 points.
Howard, who also had six assists, came into the night tied for fifth in all-time scoring with Will Conroy. Morris Almond is the next player Howard could catch, at 3,697 points. Renaldo Major is the all-time leader with 4,160 points.
I’ve seen us, and all the coaches and staff have seen us, just getting better and buying in more and more, coach Conner Henry said. Tonight was probably the best effort overall. They sustained it for the longest (stretches), and it got to the point where the ball was just moving so well. Then, it’s infectious. One guy makes a 3 and then another guy makes a 3, then there’s a monster dunk and everybody is playing loose.
But like I told the guys: Let’s not get drunk on this. It’s a process. Live in each moment. Live in each 24 seconds and continue to get better.’
As good as the victory was for Fort Wayne, things could start to get even better.
Before the game, the Mad Ants got two players sent down by the NBA’s Detroit Pistons – Tony Mitchell and Peyton Siva – marking the first time this season they have had players assigned from a parent club.
Mitchell and Siva should be in the lineup Saturday at the Coliseum against Rio Grande Valley. Mitchell, 6-foot-8, averaged 1.1 points and 1.1 rebounds in 10 games with the Pistons. Siva, 6-foot, had 0.3 points and 0.8 assists in 13 games. Mitchell (North Texas) and Siva (Louisville) were second-round picks in this year’s NBA draft.
This is not the same Tony Mitchell who played for Fort Wayne last season. But that Mitchell – the D-League’s reigning Rookie of the Year – could rejoin the Mad Ants soon after playing in China, Mad Ants president Jeff Potter confirmed. That Mitchell averaged 21.9 points and 6.4 rebounds last season.
A source also confirmed that the Indiana Pacers could assign Solomon Hill to Fort Wayne as soon as Saturday. A rookie first-round pick out of Arizona, he is averaging 1.5 points and 1.6 rebounds in 16 NBA games.
Reno (5-7) was led in scoring by Ra’shad James’ 20 points and Mo Charlo’s 14. The Bighorns were 6 of 24 from 3-point range.