The Arsenal lost 99-91 to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers last night. The box score pretty much tells the story — the Vipers shot 90% from the free throw line (on 25 attempts), grabbed 16 offensive boards, and only turned over the ball 12 times. Compare that to the 71% free throw shooting, 20% 3-point shooting, 14 total free throw attempts, and 20 turnovers for the Arsenal. The Arsenal fell behind by 13 points during the first (then closed it to 9 at the break), came back to take a 2 point lead, then fell down 11 points and never recovered. The Arsenal play, both offensive and defensive, was inconsistent. There were stretches of good offensive and defensive possessions broken up by panicky, one-on-one play (or my other favorite, long 3-pointers early in the shot clock), and overly-conservative defensive play that let the Vipers either take uncontested shots, or beat their defender off the dribble to the hoop.
The quality of play and officiating is definitely improving, though. The first couple of games were marred by tons of clock problems, including a case towards the very end of the home opener where the clock started before a player received an inbounds pass. Given that the game went down to the last shot attempt, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the extra second taken off by the clock error might have had an effect on the outcome. The game last night had no clock problems, fortunately.
Since I can’t watch Cowboys-Packers tonight due to distribution issues with the NFL Network, I am watching the Celtics–Knicks game. The Celtics are absolutely drilling the Knicks, which, of course, brought to my mind the question of how well the Knicks would play against D-League competition. Another interesting tie-in: the Celtics’ Gabe Pruitt was assigned to the Utah Flash just in time to play the Arsenal in their home opener, in which he hit the game-winning shot. Two days later, he’s recalled to the Celtics. Life just isn’t fair sometimes…
UPDATE: Man, the Knicks can’t do anything right, entertainment-wise. They failed to let the Celtics double them up, and at the buzzer, Nate Robinson hit a 3 from halfcourt to prevent the Knicks from breaking their all-time lowest score (58). Weak.