With the Rockets officially home for the summer after missing this year’s postseason, Houston fans still have something to cheer about on the hardwood: The Development League team, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, have stormed into the D-League Finals.
And the Vipers stole the show in game one of the finals, blowing out Tulsa 124-107.
Game two of the best-of-three series, which tipped off Tuesday night as Houston’s D-League fans had the brooms ready, resulted in a clean sweep of the Tulsa’s 66ers as Rio Grande Valley won in come-from-behind fashion, 94-91.
How sweet it is; it may not be a NBA Title, but there’s a lot of solid hope for Houston’s future on the hardwood.
Let’s take a look at the top five stars and performers for the D-League Champion Rio Grande Valley Vipers…
Rio Grande Valley Vipers starting forward Mark Harris scored a game-high 26 points in the D-League Championship game against the Tulsa 66ers.
Harris also had 16 rebounds and went a perfect 7-for-7 from the charity stripe in the title matchup.
In addition, Harris went 9-for-19 from the field and garnered a steal in the Championship against Tulsa, playing a tad over 41 and a half minutes in the contest.
Harris’ 16 boards were also a game-high, as the Vipers starting forward pulled down nine defensive rebounds and seven offensive boards.
Will Conroy was all over the stat-sheet in the Vipers’ title game against the 66ers, netting 13 points en route to a Rio Grande Valley NBA D-League Championship victory over Tulsa.
Conroy also pulled down seven big rebounds, dished out six assists, and had two steals in the team’s 94-91 win.
Although Conroy went just 6-for-14 from the field and 0-for-3 from beyond the arc (while hitting just 1-for-3 from the charity stripe), the Vipers’ starting guard did what was necessary for Rio Grande Valley to escape with a victory.
Antonio Anderson, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers starting forward, scored 11 points, had nine assists, pulled down seven rebounds, and blocked a shot in the team’s title victory over the Tulsa 66ers.
Anderson, playing a tad over 45 minutes in Game Two of the NBA Development-League Championship, went 5-for-11 from the field and hit his lone free throw in the contest.
A decent three-point shooter as well, Anderson went 0-for-1 from beyond the arc in the Vipers’ 94-91 victory.
Craig Winder, by far the sixth-man of the matchup in Game Two of the NBA D-League Championship, scored 16 points for the Vipers in Rio Grande Valley’s victory over the Tulsa 66ers.
Winder also had four rebounds and an assist in the contest, playing around 22 and half minutes of action in the game.
While going 5-for-13 from the field, Winder went 4-for-8 from beyond the arc and was perfect from the free throw line (going 2-for-2).
In fact, Winder’s three-pointer with 1:54 left in the game cut Tulsa’s lead to a two-points before back-to-back lay-ups by the Vipers tied the contest at 91-91.
Then Winder won it for Rio Grande Valley with a three-pointer at the buzzer.
“Craig’s got a lot of guts. He made a tough shot,” Vipers head coach Chris Finch told reporters following his team’s win over the 66ers.
Julian Sensley, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers starting center, scored eight points and had seven big rebounds in Game Two of the NBA D-League Championship.
In addition, Sensley garnered two blocks and had an assist in the title game, playing a tad over 20 and a half minutes.
Sensley went 3-for-9 from the field in Game Two, hitting 2-for-3 from the charity stripe while going 0-for-2 from beyond the arc.
But for Sensley and his teammates, stats didn’t matter on this night.
All that mattered is that Rio Grande Valley came out on top.
“This really speaks to the success of our single-affiliation agreement with the Houston Rockets,” Vipers President Brian Michael Cooper told reporters following Rio Grande Valley’s Championship victory. “Our goal was to bring a championship to the Rio Grande Valley as quickly as possible, and we succeeded.
"The fan support has been incredible all season. We can’t thank them enough and we look forward to seeing them all back next year. I also want to thank the entire Vipers front office for doing an incredible job of becoming a part of the community and helping to grow Vipers basketball.”
Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
[Photos Courtesy of Google Images Search]