Devin Ebanks arrived on the scene in Springfield just as Adonis Thomas got called up by the Orlando Magic and the 6'9" small forward has picked up his production and the Armor hasn't missed a beat. On Friday night, they won again, beating the Austin Toros, 114-109, with the former Laker putting up big numbers.
Ebanks, 24, finished with 27 points on 12-of-16 shooting, including a perfect 3-of-3 from deep. He also grabbed five rebounds and handed out three assists. Ebanks played three years with the Lakers, playing in 63 games, starting 15, 12 in the 2011-12 season. This season in the D-League, playing with the Texas Legends before being traded last week, he's averaging 22.5 points per game, shooting 46.5 percent overall and 31.1 percent from three-point range. He's currently ranked No. 4 on the D-League Prospect Watch.
Darius Johnson-Odom, the other ex-Laker on the Springfield roster, had another big game, just missing a triple-double, finishing with 20 points, nine assists and nine rebounds. He's ranked No. 2 on the Prospect Watch, just behind Manny Harris and ahead of Terrence Williams. The third Armor player on the Prospect Watch, No. 23-ranked Willie Reed, had 18 and 11. In three games this week, the 6'10" Reed averaged 18.7 points and 11 rebounds.
How's Thomas doing in Orlando. He has yet to play, getting a DNP-CD in two games. His 10-day runs out Wednesday. The Magic have an option of giving him a second 10-day, signing him to a guaranteed contract for the rest of the season or releasing him. If he is waived, he's likely to return to Springfield, who retain his D-League rights.
For the second straight night, the Toros had the hot hand early as Austin shot 50 percent from the field in the first and 61 percent for the half following a blistering 73 percent clip in the second quarter alone. That pace helped Austin to a 63-49 lead at the break despite 12 points from Springfield's Willie Reed and an 11-of-14 effort from the free throw line by the Armor. On the flip side, Austin went to the line just one time, knocking down the lone free throw through the first 24 minutes.
The Toros put three players in double figures before the break, led by Flip Murray's game-high 16. Yes, that Flip Murray, who's now 35. Courtney Fells hit both three-point attempts as a part of his 12 points, while Jonathan Simmons knocked down 5-of-6 attempts for 11 points off the bench. For a two minute stretch in the second quarter, the Toros connected on six straight possessions to aid in the 14-point edge at halftime, but the early spurt would not last through the game's entirety.
Following a first half dominated by Austin, the Armor turned the tables on the Toros in the third as Springfield strung together a 14-0 run to take an 82-79 lead after a run-capping four-point play by Khalif Wyatt .The Armor went on to take an 87-82 edge into the final frame, while Wyatt finished the night with eight points. Johnson-Odom was the focal point of the Armor offense in the period, accounting for 14 of the 38 Springfield points as the Marquette product went on to score 20 on the night, 17 in the second half and narrowly missed a triple-double with nine boards and nine assists.
Austin rallied to lock the game at 104 with four minutes left to play, put Springfield doubled up the Toros down the final stretch, 10-5 over the last 3:28 to secure a 114-109 come-from-behind victory. Springfield outscored Austin 65-46 in the second half, with Ebanks totaling 18 points through the game's final 24 minutes for a team-high 27 on the evening, his highest scoring game since joining the Armor. Reed finished the night with 18 points and 11 boards, while center Jeff Foote also posted a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
The Toros' pace slowed in the second half as Austin was held to just a 41 percent clip from the field. Murray did lead all scorers with 29, while Simmons finished with 23 off the bench, but Austin was able to get to the line just 10 times, knocking down eight shots compared to the Armor's 22-of-27 effort from the stripe.