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Armor, unlike Nets, can't get on a winning path

Chris Marion Photography

There is a debate in D-League circles about winning.  Some suggest it should be secondary to development. Others argue winning is part of development.  The Nets had better hope the first argument holds, but the Armor is not winning.

Like the parent club, the Armor (6-17), started slowly but unlike the Nets, they've stayed slow, despite having most of their best players back from the last two years.

Friday night, it was the same story. Springfield outscored the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (15-9) 64-57 in the second half, but were not able to overcome a 16-point halftime deficit, falling at home by a final score of 117-108.The comeback that almost succeeds is becoming the defining story of the season.

Fort Wayne, the Pistons affiliate, bolted out of the gates, building a seven-point lead halfway through the first quarter before doubling its advantage with three minutes to go at 28-14. The Armor battled back as the defense held the Mad Ants scoreless throughout the remainder of the frame while the offense closed on a 6-0 run to cut Fort Wayne’s edge to 28-20 after one period.

Fort Wayne stretched its lead to as many as 16 in the second quarter, taking a 60-44 edge into the locker room at halftime. Darius Johnson-Odom and Dennis Horner each reached double figures after one half of play, tallying 11 points and 10 points, respectively.  The Armor missed just two free throws in the first half (11-for-13), but the Mad Ants hit five three pointers and forced 13 turnovers to outscore Springfield 23-7 on fast break points.

Tony Mitchell, Trey McKinney-Jones and Sadiel Rojas all registered a game-high of 12 points each over the first 24 minutes, while Ron Howard added 11 as four of the five Fort Wayne starters eclipsed the 10-point mark before halftime.

Springfield put together a strong third quarter, outscoring the Mad Ants 39-30 in the frame behind 12 points from Johnson-Odom as the former Laker hit 4-of-7 attempts in the period. The Armor doubled their three-point total, hitting three treys in the third to pull within seven entering the fourth.

The Armor clawed even closer in the final frame, cutting Fort Wayne’s lead down to just four with three minutes left. As the clock ticked down, Springfield just wasn’t able to overcome the deficit set during the first half as the Mad Ants locked up a 117-108 victory.

Johnson-Odom collected a game-high 28 points, while Dennis Horner posted his second straight 20 and 10 game (22 points, 11 rebounds) and third over his last five games. Adonis Thomas who started slow then took off in the second half of the Armor's loss to Erie Thursday night, never got started on Friday. He picked up fouls early, played only 15 minutes, took only two shots and scored two points. Springfield’s 19 turnovers hurt as the Mad Ants ended the game with a 28-11 advantage in fast break points.

Pistons draft pick Mitchell led the Mad Ants Friday night, dropping 25 points, while all five Fort Wayne starters reached double figures. McKinney-Jones finished with 21 as Rojas added 18 to go along with a team-high eight boards.