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Big Bulls bounce back, end Jets’ nine-game win streak

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

All good things must come to an end.

For the Chiba Jets, their nine-game winning streak ended on Monday in an 88-77 defeat to the visiting Iwate Big Bulls.

Carlos Dixon scored 26 points on 8-for-13 shooting and went 8-for-11 at the free-throw line to lead Iwate (22-10) to victory. It was the Virginia Tech product’s second-best scoring output of the season. He also had 13 rebounds, four assists and two steals in Yachiyo, Chiba Prefecture.

Reggie Okosa added 17 points, three steals and two blocks and starting center Dillion Sneed scored 15 points in just under 20 minutes. Kenichi Takahashi had 10 points and four steals for the Big Bulls.

Iwate improved to 13-5 on the road; Chiba slipped to 10-8 at home.

Veteran point guard Naoto Takushi had three turnovers, two fouls and one assist in 4-plus minutes in his second game for the Big Bulls since being acquired from the Oita HeatDevils. He didn’t attempt a shot.

In the series opener, Takushi was 0-for-2 from the field with one rebound and two steals in 11 minutes. He was twice named to the bj-league’s Best Five Team in past seasons.

Iwate trailed 50-40 at the half, but outscored Chiba 28-18 in the third quarter to make it a 68-68 game entering the fourth quarter.

Joe Werner paced the Jets (17-13) with 23 points and 15 boards. Marquise Gray finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds, Reina Itakura had 11 points and D’Andre Bell 10 for Chiba. All-Star forward Marquin Chandler served a one-game ban for picking up an unsportsmanlike conduct technical foul on Sunday, and the suspension was extended for one more game, on Saturday against the Toyama Grouses, it was announced by the league on Tuesday.

NBA update: Former bj-league big men Jeremy Tyler (Tokyo Apache) and Luke Zeller (Shiga Lakestars) are not among their respective teams’ top players off the bench, but, as has been reported in this newspaper, both have landed jobs in the NBA after playing in Japan. Indeed, it was a quantum leap for both players.

Tyler, two years removed from his shortened one-season stint with the Apache, is still only 21 years old. He’s appeared in 20 games for the Golden State Warriors, averaging 3.1 minutes, 1.1 points and 0.8 rebounds. He last played for second-year coach Mark Jackson’s squad on Saturday, logging 5 minutes in a 116-91 loss to the Dallas Mavericks

A San Diego native, Tyler has alternated his time between Golden State and the NBA Development League’s Santa Cruz Warriors. He has played five games for Santa Cruz, averaging 30 minutes with 15 points and 8 rebounds per contest. The 208-cm Tyler made his last appearance for the D-League club on New Year’s Day, an 18-point performance in 32 minutes.

Golden State’s frontcourt includes David Lee, Andris Biedrins, Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli, and Tyler has had limited opportunities for playing time in his second season with Jackson’s squad.

Zeller, meanwhile, has been on the court in 16 games for the Phoenix Suns, posting averages of 3.6 minutes and 1.2 points. In 10 minutes on Sunday in a blowout loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Notre Dame product had two points, four rebounds and three assists.

Luke’s younger brother, Tyler, also an NBA rookie, is averaging 8.0 points and 6.1 rebounds in 47 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Tyler Zeller attended the University of North Carolina. Their younger brother Cody Zeller is a top star for basketball-mad Indiana University. All three Zeller brothers wear jersey No. 40.

Luke Zeller was not picked in the 2009 NBA Draft. His pro career began with the Shiga Lakestars in 2009, and included stops in Lithuania and the D-League before making the Suns’ opening day roster this season. Life as an NBA backup is, of course, a physically demanding occupation, but a comfortable salary comes with it; Zeller gets the NBA minimum ($473,604) for a first-year player this season.

Did you know?: The Niigata Albirex are the league’s top 3-point shoting team, knocking down 39.1 percent of those shots (246 of 629). The Akita Northern Happinets (301-for-921) and Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix (284-for-917) are the only teams so far to attempt more than 900 3s. The Shimane Susanoo Magic have taken the fewest number of long-range shots, with 417 attempts (150 baskets).
And who’s the worst 3-point shooting team? The Gunma Crane Thunders are shooting 27.2 percent (179-for-659) from beyond the arc through Sunday.