sports 3 days ago

Trade-sapped Santa Cruz Warriors lose to lowly Stars again

Santa Cruz Sentinel, Calif. — Jim Seimas Santa Cruz Sentinel, Calif.

Feb. 14--The Santa Cruz Warriors did themselves no favors Tuesday as they attempt to make a late-season push to qualify for the NBA G League playoffs.

For the second time in seven days, the Warriors lost to the host Salt Lake City Stars, owner of the worst record in the league.

Forward Terrence Jones scored 30 points and guard Damion Lee added 24, but it wasn't enough to save Santa Cruz from losing 120-113 to the Stars in front of 1,847 fans at the Lifetime Activities Center-Bruin Arena in Utah.

The Warriors were hoping to piece together a win streak after knocking off Pacific Division leader South Bay (23-14) in overtime on Sunday. That didn't happen. Now, they're 3-7 in their past 10 games.

The Warriors (19-17), who sit in third place in the Western Conference's Pacific Division, have 12 games remaining in their season. The three division winners in the Western Conference will receive automatic postseason berths, leaving three wild card berths for three other teams with the best regular-season records.

The Warriors will make their postseason push without forward James Southerland and guard Alex Hamilton, both of whom were dealt in trades this week. Moreover, two-way guard Quinn Cook, the league's second leading scorer at 24.8 points per game, didn't play against Salt Lake City.

Winston Shepard picked up some of the slack, finishing with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Two-way forward Chris Boucher had 12 points and five rebounds in 24 minutes off the bench. Starting forward Michael Gbinije and reserve CJ Wilcox each added 10 points.

Former Warriors forward Georges Niang, who joined the Stars after signing a two-way deal with Utah last month, torched his former team for 32 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.

Forward Erik McCree added 26 points and guard Naz Mitrou-Long had 21 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

Mitrou-Long went for 32 points with eight of his team's 16 3-pointers on Feb. 6, when the Stars knocked off the Warriors 117-108 to become the last team in the league to earn its 10th win.

This time around, the Stars (12-28), the last place team in the Southwest Division, only made nine 3-pointers. They cashed in at the free-throw line, though, making 31 of 34 attempts.

Nineteen turnovers didn't help the Warriors' cause.

Santa Cruz led 83-82 with 10:45 left in the forth quarter, but a 3-pointer from Taylor Braun gave the Stars the lead for good. Salt Lake City pushed its lead to 10 with seven minutes left and the Stars weren't threatened the remainder of the way.

Earlier Tuesday, Southerland and the returning player rights for forward Scott Wood were dealt to South Bay in exchange for the Lakers' original first-round selection in the 2018 G League Draft.

"James Southerland was a hard-working, model teammate in his two seasons with the Santa Cruz Warriors organization," Warriors General Manager Kent Lacob stated in a release. "I wish James the best of luck in his return to the Lakers organization."

In 69 games with the Santa Cruz Warriors, including 39 starts, Southerland averaged 12.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 27.1 minutes.

Hamilton was dealt to the Windy City Bulls as part of a three-team trade Monday. The Warriors acquired the returning rights to guard Thomas Walkup and guard/forward Lamar Patterson and the Erie Bayhawks' 2018 first-round draft pick in a deal that also involved the Reno Bighorns. Windy City also receives the Warriors' 2018 third-round selection in the G League Draft.

Contact Jim Seimas at 831-706-3256.

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(c)2018 the Santa Cruz Sentinel (Scotts Valley, Calif.)

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