TULSA, OK. – The Rio Grande Valley Vipers took advantage of a poor second-half by the Tulsa 66ers, cruising to a 124-107 win in game one of the 2010 NBA D-League Finals Sunday afternoon. A 66ers franchise-record crowd of 5,453 fans were on hand at the Tulsa Convention Center for the opening game of the best-of-three series. NBA D-League MVP Michael Harris scored 24 points in just 21 minutes of game-time while Rio Grande Valley teammate Will Conroy finished the night with a triple-double.
Things got off to a shaky start for both teams as they worked through the nervousness of the moment. Marcus Lewis gave the 66ers a 2-0 lead on a layup two minutes into the game. Larry Owens led all scorers, shooting 4 of 6 from the field and scoring 13 points as the two teams would trade the lead three times. The Vipers and 66ers would enter the first break tied 27-27, despite the Vipers holding a 52.2 field goal percentage while the 66ers were just 40.9 percent.
Devon Hardin came up with two big shot blocks in the closing seconds that denied Rio Grande Valley from retaking the lead.
Tulsa broke away to a 10-point lead in the second quarter, holding a 50-40 advantage with five minutes remaining. Rio Grande Valley used a 14-4 run over the next three minutes to tie Tulsa and eventually take a two-point lead into half time. Conroy, a former 66er, fired a shot at the buzzer from behind the mid-court stripe that went in as time expired.
JuJuan Smith came off the bench to lead all Tulsa scorers in the second quarter with ten points, including a nice crossover and drive to the hoop for a score at the 8:45 mark. Rio Grande Valley outscored Tulsa 16-12 in the paint while the 66ers held a 5-0 advantage on second chance points. Harris became a spectator for the final six minutes due to foul trouble.
Tulsa struggled during the third quarter, shooting 6 of 18 from the field while Rio Grande Valley hit 11 of 19 to build a 14-point lead. A Harris run of 8-1 allowed the Vipers a little separation, before the 66ers scored their first field goal two minutes into the quarter. The Vipers outscored the 66ers 33-21 in the third and took a 94-80 lead into the fourth.
Ernest Scott nailed three treys to lead the Vipers who shot 10 of 18 from the field. Deron Washington chipped in 11 for Tulsa, but the team continued to struggle, shooting thirty-three percent from the field in the final quarter. Tulsa pulled within 13 points on a pair of Washington free throws with 7:58 remaining, but that would be the closest they could get the rest of the way.
Photos by: Kevin Pyle
Next up is game two of the series scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off on Tuesday night at State Farm Arena in Hidalgo, Texas. Tulsa must win the game if they want to prevent the Vipers from clinching the championship.