The Niigata Albirex BB have climbed out of the Eastern Conference cellar.
Paul Butorac continued his stellar play of late with 22 points and 17 rebounds in the Albirex’s 90-70 win over the struggling Osaka Evessa.
Antonio Burks had 20 points and Akitomo Takeno’s 17-point, five-assist performance lifted Masaya Hirose’s club to its third straight victory.
Tyrone Levett chipped in with 15 points and seven boards for Niigata (5-8).
For Osaka (8-9), Lynn Washington had team-high totals in points (25) and rebounds (14) and Nile Murry added 17 points. Shota Konno scored nine.
The Evessa, who squared off against Niigata in the bj-league’s first title game in April 2006, have lost five of their past seven games, including three straight, and fell to 3-8 on the road.
Also Saturday, Jeff Newton’s 22-point, 14-rebound effort set the tone for the Ryukyu Golden Kings in a 93-72 home win over the Oita HeatDevils.
Five Ryukyu players scored in double figures, including Anthony McHenry (17 points), Bryan Simpson (14) Taketo Aoki and George Leach (12 apiece). Newton muscled his way inside for 14 rebounds and McHenry had 10 assists. With shooting guard Shigeyuki Kinjo sidelined with a knee injury for the second week of an estimated six-month period and the team adjusting to his absence, Yosuke Sugawara chipped in with eight rebounds and five assists to help the Golden Kings raise their record to 12-3, best in the Western Conference.
Ricky Woods paced the HeatDevils (7-10) with 21 points.
Ryukyu led 56-24 at halftime.
William Knight’s 26 points and Wendell White’s 24-point, nine-rebound, six-assist effort led the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix to an 83-82 road win over the Sendai 89ers.
The Phoenix (15-2) improved to 3-0 against the 89ers.
Masahiro Oguchi scored 16 points for the Eastern Conference’s first-place club and Limar Wilson chipped in with eight points and six assists.
For Sendai (10-7), Demetrius Guions was the top scorer with 25 points. Chris Holm added 18 points and 16 boards, while Kenichi Takahashi and Takehiko Shimura had 11 points apiece.
Takeshi Mito’s team-high 23 points led the Toyama Grouses to a 99-94 win over the visiting Tokyo Apache.
Veteran forward Kirby Lemons added a double-double (21 points, 10 boards) for the Grouses, who improved to 6-7. Jason Underwood had 14 points and Brandon Thomas finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and nine assists for Toyama.
Tokyo’s Cohey Aoki had a team-best 26 points and Julius Ashby added 24 points and 13 rebounds. Rasheed Sparks, Reina Itakura and Nick Davis scored 11 points apiece, but the Apache (5-10) lost their third straight game.
Newcomer Michael Chappell, a 31-year-old forward who played for the 89ers in 2006-07, had eight points in his Tokyo debut. He has also played pro ball in Portugal, Australia and Ukraine after a collegiate career at Duke University and Michigan State (he played on the Spartans’ 2000 NCAA Division I championship club).
After holding Toyama to 35 first-half points, the Apache gave up 64 in the second half.
Josh Bostic had 26 points and 13 rebounds and Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf added 22 in the Kyoto Hannaryz’s 90-88 home triumph over the Takamatsu Five Arrows.
Taizo Kawabe contributed 17 points, John Clifford had an 11-point, 15-rebound effort and Naoto Takushi’s seven-point, six-rebound, six-assist outing sparked the Hannaryz (5-10).
Yu Okada paced the Five Arrows with 31 points. Backcourt mate Michael Gardener returned to the lineup after a one-game absence and had 23 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists in the loss.
Antoine Broxsie and Terrance Farley both scored 10 for Takamatsu (6-13).
Michael Parker scored a game-high 22 points in the Rizing Fukuoka’s 66-54 home win over the Shiga Lakestars.
The Rizing (12-7) outscored the visitors 46-17 in the second and fourth quarters. Marlyn Bryant had 19 points and Kohei Mitomo 11 for the hosts.
Masashi Joho and Bobby Nash had 12 points apiece for Shiga (8-11).