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Nakamura’s hot hand lifts Evessa to victory

by Ed Odeven

Sharpshooter Naoto Nakamura was in a zone on Sunday afternoon, burying 3-point shot after 3-point shot in the Osaka Evessa’s 95-80 home win over the Rizing Fukuoka.

Nakamura finished with a team-high 24 points, including 8-for-11 from 3-point range, to help Osaka earn a split in the two-game series.

The Evessa, the two-time defending league champions, improved to 27-11, the best record in the league this season.

Osaka point guard Matt Lottich finished with 22 points, Lynn Washington and Jeff Newton had 17 apiece and Mikey Marshall contributed 14. The Evessa made 10 steals, with Marshall nabbing a team-best four.

For Fukuoka (14-24), Michael Gardener’s 24 points led the team, while Joshua Peppers added 23 and Michael Parker 18.

Also Sunday, the Toyama Grouses snapped a 10-game losing streak, edging the visiting Oita HeatDevils 85-82 despite a woeful 7-for-21 effort from the free-throw line.

Six Grouses players scored in double figures, led by power forward Jamar Brown’s 20 points, Robby Joyner’s 15 and Takanori Goya’s 13. Toyama improved to 5-33.

Oita, which was 14-for-25 at the charity stripe, slipped to 18-20. Andy Ellis was No. 1 in scoring for the HeatDevils with 27 points, while Justin Allen had 15, Jason Braxton 13 and Yukinori Suzuki 11.

At Ariake Colosseum, the Tokyo Apache completed a series sweep, defeating the visiting Niigata Albirex BB 100-88 before 3,823 spectators.

Tokyo center Nick Davis, the ex-Niigata standout, had a game-best 26 points against his old club and made a major impact in other areas, too. He grabbed 16 rebounds, collective five steals and swatted three shots. John “Helicopter” Humphrey contributed 22 points, Masashi Joho had a 13-point afternoon, Dean Browne added 10, Dameion Baker nine and Cohey Aoki scored all eight of his points at the line, where he was 8-for-8.

At the point, the Apache’s Darin Satoshi Maki earned a rare start and maximized his minutes, with four points, four assists and two steals in 18 minutes. As a team, Tokyo made 32 of 35 free throws and improved to 22-16.

Niigata struggled from the perimeter, shooting 6-for-21 from 3-point range. Andre Smith finished with a team-high 24 points and Yuichi Ikeda had 22. The Albirex (23-15) committed 22 turnovers.

Elsewhere, the visiting Takamatsu Five Arrows used a strong third quarter to rout the Ryukyu Golden Kings 108-86.

All-Star power forward Reggie Warren’s 30 points led Takamatsu (26-12), which outscored the hosts 25-11 in the third. Six Five Arrows scored in double figures, including Yu Okada (17).

For the Golden Kings (10-28), Herb Gibson had 18 points, Eric Walton 17 and Naoto Takushi 16 and a game-high eight assists.

The Sendai 89ers topped the host Saitama Broncos 82-66. The 89ers (26-12) controlled the game in the first half, taking a 45-28 advantage into the intermission.

Forward Nick DeWitz (32 points), Bobby St. Preux (15) and Hikaru Kusaka (10) carried the Sendai offense, and a 19-for-23 effort at the line gave a huge boost to Honoo Hamaguchi’s club. In addition, DeWitz finished with five blocks.

For the Broncos (19=19), who shot 3-for-18 from beyond the arc, Gordon James had a 17-point, 12-rebound effort.