LOS ANGELES, CA-Basketball should be taking a backseat right now with football jump-starting. That’s not the case at the Drew League. Things are just heating up. The regular season has ended. The playoffs have begun.
That means a good dose of NBA players like Houston’s James Harden, Toronto’s DeMarr DeRozan, Golden State swingman Nick Young, Detroit Pistons big man Andre Drummond and Los Angeles Lakers bruiser Julius Randle will be helping teams fill out the brackets for the next couple of weeks.
Harden, the Rockets point-man, splashed down for the first time at the Drew League on Sunday, but the Game of the Week was fought out between Nick Young’s Most Hated Players (MHP) and Redemption. Sitting at the eighth spot in the Marty Walzer Division, Young and his cohorts from MHP had to come-from-behind to beat the seventh-place Redemption, 83-80.
It was the three-point shooting of Young late in the fourth quarter and the bruising play of Randle that saved the day for MHP (5-5). For most of the second half, MHP showed little signs that they were going to position themselves to get the win. Young was going through a horrid shooting display from long-distance.
Randle was getting plenty of face time after being smashed on by a ferocious rebound dunk by a member of Redemption. DeRozan didn’t really exhibit the type of explosive plays he’s known for. He looked stiff and mechanical most of the time he was out on the floor for MHP. DeRozan didn’t exactly look like the same guy who signed a 5-year, $145 million deal last year to stay with the Raptors.
In all fairness, DeRozan was probably having one of those days. Or it could have been the other guy guarding him was simply not going to let him explode. That’s just the way the Drew League works.
Big baller or not, you earn your keep. On any given day, you can have your rear end handed to you. Your reputation or NBA status will not save you from getting embarrassed. The hometown hero who hails from Compton High School, at least put up 21 points for MHP. So DeRozan didn’t entirely go the bust route on this day.
But it sure looked like his team would. Up until late in the fourth quarter, MHP was getting a good dose of being outplayed and outhustled and looking incredibly listless. Kerry Carter seemed to have his way with Young, scoring a team-high 27 points as he led Redemption to a seven-point lead into the fourth quarter. At one point in the second half, MHP was down 13 points to Redemption.
With desperation kicking in, MHP came to life. Randle, playing with a mean chip on his shoulder after that vicious dunk, dominated the paint, scoring a large chunk of his 28 points in the final quarter. Without Randle doing the dirty work down low, MHP was staring down at a humiliating defeat. Randle had a monster game, grabbing 18 rebounds and blocking five shots to go along with his scoring contribution.
Randle’s big game would have gone to waste if Young, the former Los Angeles Lakers star and now Golden State Warriors swingman, hadn’t found his shooting touch. Young made 8 of 20 shots from the field. He was worst at the 3-point range, connecting on just 5 of 14 shots. Those are not very good percentages.
Young redeemed himself from that bad outing, hitting several of those treys when it counted in the fourth quarter as MHP outscored Redemption, 23-13, to clinch the win.