Trailing 11-7 after the opening quarter, the Osaka Evessa were playing a rather ordinary game against the host Miyazaki Shining Suns on Saturday.
That changed over the next two 20 minutes as the Evessa turned up the intensity in a 94-62 victory over the Shining Suns.
Osaka (18-25) won its eighth consecutive game, outscoring the hosts 65-28 over the middle two quarters and taking a 72-39 advantage into the final period.
The Evessa collected 13 steals, out-rebounded the Shining Suns 52-38 and welcomed guard Masashi Obuchi back into the rotation for his first appearance since Feb. 10 due to an injury.
Osaka improved to 13-6 since former Chicago Bulls bench boss Bill Cartwright became the bj-league team’s new coach on Jan. 21.
Dwayne Lathan, who attended Indiana State, NBA legend Larry Bird’s alma mater, paced the Evessa with 18 points on 7-for-11 shooting from the field, including a pair of dunks. Rick Rickert, Mike Bell and Nathan Walkup all scored 17 points apiece for Osaka. Rickert raked in a team-high 13 rebounds and Bell grabbed 10.
“It was a good game tonight,” Cartwright said later. “We scouted them well, so we were well-prepared before the game. We are still improving so we are going to play hard the rest of the season. We will have to be ready and not let them play hard tomorrow.
Osaka shot 32-for-54 from inside the arc. Shun Watanuki added seven points, four assists and two steals, and Obuchi, who played nearly 16 minutes, added four points and two assists off the bench. Satoshi Takeda blocked two shots.
For Miyazaki (9-36), Abdullahi Kuso was the top scorer with 21 points. He also had 15 rebounds.
Rizing 106, B-Corsairs 97 (OT)
In Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, seven Fukuoka players dished out three or more assists in an overtime triumph over the B-Corsairs.
The Rizing finished with 29 assists and 12 turnovers in the series opener. Satoshi Ishitani had a team-best six assists and Jun Nakanishi, Reggie Warren, Julius Ashby, Akitomo Takeno and Josh Peppers all had four assists.
Peppers poured in 21 points. Ashby and Takeno both scored 20 points for the Rizing, with Takeno making every shot he attempted on the evening (3-for-3 on 3s, 3-for-3 on 2s and 5-for-5 from the foul line). Warren scored 16 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for Fukuoka (29-16), and Masahiro Kano chipped in with 10 points on 4-for-4 shooting, including a pair of 3s. The Rizing drained 12 of 25 shots from long range.
Thomas Kennedy led Yokohama (30-13) with 25 points, Masayuki Kabaya scored 24 and Draelon Burns had 23, but missed all 10 of his 3-point attempts. Burns, who had five steals, was 15-for-16 at the charity stripe and 4-for-10 on 2-point shots.
Yokohama struggled from the outside, shooting 6-for-24 on 3s.
After the game, Burns posted this message on Facebook: “Losing makes you appreciate wining. Winning makes you hate to lose. But win or lose it’s always fun to tie up your shoes…”
Golden Kings 73, Susanoo Magic 61
In Okinawa City, in a battle between the Western Conference’s top two teams, reigning champion Ryukyu defeated Shimane for the first time in their five meetings this season.
Terrance Woodbury scored 20 points, Anthony McHenry had 19 points, 16 rebounds and three blocked shots, Dzaflo Larkai had 16 points and 12 boards and Narito Namizato contributed nine points, six assists and two steals for the Golden Kings (34-9 overall, 20-3 at home).
Ryukyu trailed 27-26 at halftime before an announced crowd of 3,710.
Golden Kings star big man Jeff Newton sat out the game due to an injury.
Michael Parker led the Susanoo Magic (30-15) with 15 points, Koki Yabuuchi had 11 and Shohei Nakama 10.
Shimane had 19 turnovers; Ryukyu made seven.
Big Bulls 77, Cinq Reves 67
In Kitakami, Iwate Prefecture, despite shooting 3-for-12 at the free-throw line, coach Dai Oketani’s club picked up a victory in the series opener.
Iwate (27-16) held Tokyo to 1-for-14 shooting from 3-point range. In addition, the visitors only reached 20 points — exactly 20 — in the second quarter.
The Big Bulls led 61-53 entering the fourth quarter.
Carlos Dixon had 29 points and 10 rebounds for Iwate and Reggie Okosa pumped in 16 points with 13 boards. Teammate Dillion Sneed, who was 1-for-9 at the line, added 15 points and 10 rebounds and Masato Tsukino supplied 10 points and six assists.
For Tokyo (15-28), Ricky Woods had 35 points and 14 rebounds and Jonathan Jones added 18 and 13. The rest of the team scored 24 points.
HeatDevils 102, Broncos 101
In Saitama, former Broncos standout Taishiro Shimizu canned eight 3-pointers in a 29-point, 12-assist, seven-rebound effort as Oita edged the hosts.
Manabu Umemiya added 28 points and Verdell Jones III scored 15 and dished out six assists for the HeatDevils (17-28).
John “Helicopter” Humphrey paced Saitama (11-32) with 37 points and 12 rebounds. Yuki Kitamuki scored 15 points for the Broncos, who have lost three straight games.
Crane Thunders 100, Albirex BB 95
In Tomioka, Gunma Prefecture, Jermaine Dixon scored 33 points and handed out eight assists to lead the Crane Thunders to a victory over visiting Niigata.
Dominique Keller and Lewis Witcher each scored 17 points, the latter also grabbing 13 rebounds for Gunma (11-32). Shingo Okada poured in 12 points and Kenya Tomori sank two 3s in an eight-point effort for the first-year franchise.
Nile Murry had 22 points and six assists for the Albirex (30-13) and Yuichi Ikeda drained five 3s in a 21-point evening. Center Chris Holm finished with 18 points and 16 rebounds.
89ers 82, Northern Happinets 79
In Sendai, the hosts annihilated Akita on the boards and eked out a win in their Tohoku derby series opener.
Led by Sam Willard’s 24 rebounds and T.J. Cummings’ 13, Sendai had 76 rebounds while holding Akita to 36. The 89ers grabbed 33 offensive boards; Akita had 11. (With 76 rebounds, Sendai tied the single-game league record set on Feb. 24, 2007, by the Osaka Evessa in a double-OT game against the Niigata Albirex BB.)
Cummings topped the scoring charts for the 89ers (17-26) with 27 points and Sam Coleman and Willard each had 12. Takuya Komoda added 11 points and captain Takehiko Shimura had nine points and 11 assists with zero turnovers.
Dion Harris scored 20 points for the Happinets (22-21) and Yuki Togashi added 16 points and eight assists. Kazuhiro Shoji and Mike Anderson both had 12 points for Akita, which shot 15-for-46 from beyond the arc.
Grouses 82, Lakestars 63
In Toyama, former Shiga star Masashi Joho scored 27 points on 12-for-18 shooting, including four 3s, and Takeshi Mito and Angel Garcia had 16 and 14 points, respectively, for the victorious hosts.
Ira Brown contributed eight points, 14 rebounds, eight assists, two steals and a block for the Grouses (28-15).
Dionisio Gomez had 22 points and 10 boards for the Lakestars (26-17) and Shelton Colwell scored 10. Yutaka Yokoe added nine points.
Five Arrows 91, Brave Warriors 87
In Nagano, Dexter Lyons had a game-high 25 points and Paul Williams’ double-double (18 points, 14 rebounds) helped carry Takamatsu past Shinshu.
Brandon Penn scored 14 points and Masaaki Suzuki added 10 points and six assists. Lyons also had six helpers and three steals for the Five Arrows (17-28).
Jermaine Green was the leading scorer for Shinshu (16-29) with 22 points and Michael Fey had 17 points and 11 boards. Eric Walton also scored 17 points. Takato Saito dished out eight assists.
Jets 73, Hannaryz 70
In Kyoto, Marquin Chandler scored 24 points, Marquise Gray had 18 points and 15 rebounds and Chiba prevailed against the Hannaryz.
D’Andre Bell had 12 points and Shota Isshiki scored 11 for the Jets (23-20), who played without point guard Kensuke Tanaka (leg injury) and star forward Joe Werner.
Gyno Pomare finished with 18 points and 12 boards for Kyoto (23-20) and Marcus Cousin had 15 and 13. David Palmer had a 14-point effort and Jermaine Boyette added eight points.