Fort Wayne Mad Ants win 2014 D-League championshipPosted by Inside Hoops
The Fort Wayne Mad Ants defeated the Santa Cruz Warriors 119-113 to secure the 2014 NBA Development League Championship for the first time in team history. The Mad Ants’ Tony Mitchell led all scorers with 32 points, while 2014 NBA D-League Co-Most Valuable Player Ron Howard and teammate Matt Bouldin finished the game with 23 and 20 points, respectively. The Warriors Seth Curry scored a team-high 29 points in defeat.
Fort Wayne led by as many as 20 points in the second half but Santa Cruz wouldn’t fall quietly, capturing the lead for the first time since the first quarter when Mychel Thompson connected on an and-one layup to take a two-point lead, 103-101, with 5:01 to play. The teams knotted in four ties and the lead changed hands twice before the Mad Ants victory was sealed. Howard hit a jumper to take go ahead 113-111 and the team never looked back en route to the six-point championship win. The Mad Ants finished their season with a perfect 6-0 record, having won 17 of their last 20 regular season contests.
Both clubs shot less than 40 percent in a jitter-filled first quarter, eventually scoring 27 apiece to end the frame, the first NBA D-League finals quarter played in Fort Wayne.
Mitchell put the Mad Ants on his back in the second quarter, notching 17 points on eight-of-12 shooting from the field as the home team stretched its lead to as many as 19 points. Santa Cruz’ Cameron Jones kept his Warriors in the game, though, scoring nine of his 13 first half points in the second period. Mitchell scored 17 of Fort Wayne’s 38 second-quarter points and his team outscored Santa Cruz by as many in the second (38-21), shooting 59 percent as a team to the Warriors’ 39 percent. Fort Wayne took a 65-48 lead into the halftime break.
The Warriors cut Fort Wayne’s 20-point third quarter lead to as few as five points, 83-78, as the team embarked on a 13-1 run in the second half of the period. The Mad Ants weathered the storm, though, finishing the third up 11, 91-80. Santa Cruz held Mitchell scoreless in the third and Jones and Seth Curry combined for 18 of the Warriors’ 32 points in the stanza.
Jones scored 28 for the Warriors while Lance Goulbourne chipped in with 20 in the loss.