Back again, its time for our roughly once a week Bakersfield Jam update! The Jam had three games since our last update - facing off against the Reno Bighorns, the Los Angeles D-Fenders, and the Canton Charge. Despite strong performances from unexpected sources, the team struggled and lost its games to the Bighorns and the Charge, but managed to handle the D-Fenders, the team's rival, handily.
Reno Bighorns 135 vs. Bakersfield Jam 131
The Jam first faced off against the high scoring Reno Bighorns, led by three point specialist Brady Heslip. The Jam won the teams' first meeting of the season on the back of very strong performances from Xavier Munford and Mac Koshwal, and high overall shooting efficiency from the team. This game, that wasn't to be.
Koshwal managed to have another good game, lighting up the scoreboard for 23 points on 11/15 shooting. Elijah Millsap had the kind of game we have come to expect of him, scoring 25 points on 45% shooting, but turning the ball over 9 times. Unexpected production was enjoyed from swingman Renaldo Major, who had 26 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals.
The rest of the team struggled. Despite shooting 47% overall from the field, the team hit only 22% of its three point shots. To go along with the tepid shooting beyond the arc, the team surrendered 19 steals. On the defensive end, the team once again failed to adequately defend the three point line -- the Bighorns took 63 shots from beyond the arc, and hit at a 37% clip.
The Bighorns were led by Brady Heslip (21), David Stockton (25), David Wear (21) and Ra'Shad James (23). Overall, the team had 6 players in double figures.
Los Angeles D-Fenders 100 vs. Bakersfield Jam 119
In their next game, the Jam took on the D-Fenders, who the Jam beat in their only meeting of the season to date, a pre-season matchup that ended 105-103. The D-Fenders are among the worst teams in the D-League this year, and the expectation for the Jam had to be a victory. They were not disappointed.
While the Jam won the game handily, only two players had particularly standout games. Earl Barron had 34 points and 14 rebounds on about 60% shooting, while Chris Wright had 29 points and 8 rebounds on 65% shooting. Millsap had a relatively quiet game, with just 12 points, but added 10 assists and 8 rebounds.
The team as a whole managed to continue its strong shooting from the previous game, hitting on 48% of its shots, and rebounded a bit from its poor three point shooting, hitting at a 38% clip. Also improved was the team's turnovers, which declined to just 16.
The D-Fenders struggled to score against the Jam defense, particularly from beyond the arc. The top performers for the team included Roscoe Smith (24), Eloy Vargas (15 points) and University of Arizona product Josiah Turner (14 points).
Bakersfield Jam 95 vs. Canton Charge 98
If the D-Fenders were something of a pushover opponent without any serious talent (particularly after they dealt us Elijah Millsap), the Charge are anything but. While the team isn't full of particularly notable names from the college scene (other than perhaps Alex Kirk), it has a reputation for hard nosed defense. That reputation was more or less lived up to in this game.
The Jam really struggled to deal with the Charge. Other than Barron, who had 43 points and 12 rebounds and continued his strong play, only two Jam players were in double figures (Prather, who had 19, and Koshwal, who had 10).
The Jam's shooting woes from three point range resurfaced this game, with the team hitting only 4 of 22 threes. At the same time, the improved overall shooting percentage from the last two games disappeared, and the team reverted to the mean, shooting just 41% overall.
The Charge, meanwhile, while committing more turnovers, shot at a significantly better rate, particular from beyond the arc. The team was led by D-League veteran Antoine Agudio, who had 23 points, and Alex Kirk, who had a double double. 6 players were in double figures.