Niigata Albirex BB forward Thomas Kennedy is one of the bj-league’s most dependable scorers.
The University of Detroit Mercy product can carry his team for key stretches on offense, and in Saturday’s 87-70 triumph over the Gunma Crane Thunders, Kennedy delivered a big reminder of that in Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture.
He finished with 32 points, one shy of his season high, as the Albirex won their third straight game. Kennedy drained 8 of 10 shots from 2-point range and buried 4 of 5 from long range. He grabbed eight rebounds. He played a vital role on Yokohama’s 2012-13 championship-winning club.
Teammate Shuhei Komatsu also had the hot hand from 3-point land, knocking down five 3s in a 15-point outing.
As a team, the Albirex sank 13 of 26 3s.
Stephan Van Treese scored 10 points for Niigata (25-14) and Takamichi Fujiwara doled out five assists.
Carlos Dixon paced the Crane Thunders (15-22) with 27 points and Daniel Northern Jr. had 11 points and 14 rebounds. Masashi Obuchi added seven points.
Gunma’s three-game win streak was halted.
The Crane Thunders had 20 turnovers.
Five Arrows 95, Susanoo Magic 73
In Unnan, Shimane Prefecture, Takamatsu shot 72.7 percent from inside the 3-point arc in a runaway victory over the hosts.
Shimane (13-26) trailed 50-29 at halftime.
Justin Watts paced the Five Arrows (11-28) with 22 points on 9-for-13 shooting and Dexter Lyons had 19 points on 7-for-9 shooting. B.J. Puckett (12 points), Hiroyuki Kikuchi (11) and Andrais Thornton (10) also reached double figures in scoring, while Koki Yabuuchi had eight points and went 4-for-4 from the floor.
Tatsuhiro Yokoo and Joe Chapman both had 15 points for the Susanoo Magic, Wesley Witherspoon scored 13 and Isiah Brown had 12. Bingo Merriex grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.
“We did shoot the lights (out) today,” Lyons told The Japan Times after the game. “I like how everyone was in tune with each other and staying aggressive.
“This game was pivotal, because of needing momentum for our playoff push.
“As for the match on Sunday, we need to make a statement tomorrow as well.”
Brown, who played college ball at East Tennessee State, was suspended for Sunday’s game after being whistled for a flagrant foul 2 with 4:34 to play in the third quarter.
Northern Happinets 102, B-Corsairs 93
In Noshiro, Akita Prefecture, Deshawn Stephens scored 28 points and pulled down 12 rebounds and Shigehiro Taguchi had 23 points to lead the hosts past Yokohama.
Ruben Boykin chipped in with 21 points, 13 rebounds and four assists for Akita (31-8), while Richard Roby finished with 18 points, nine assists and three steals in the Happinets’ first game since it was announced that guard Akitomo Takeno (knee injury) will be sidelined for the remainder of the season.
Warren Niles paced the B-Corsairs (10-27) with 21 points and Carl Hall had 20. Wayne Marshall scored 19 points and Kenji Yamada had 11 with eight assists. Masayuki Kabaya supplied 10 points and four assists.
Hannaryz 77, Phoenix 56
In Ise, Mie Prefecture, Reggie Warren had 21 points and 14 rebounds before fouling out and Kevin Kotzur contributed 17 points and 13 rebounds for Kyoto in a convincing victory over Hamamatsu.
The teams, along with Ryukyu, shared a piece of first place in the 10-team Western Conference entering the game.
Kyoto (33-6) outscored Hamamatsu (32-7) by a 46-27 margin in the second half.
Ryan Forehan-Kelly had 16 points for the Hannaryz and swingman Shingo Utsumi poured in 11. Kyosuke Setoyama finished with six points and six assists.
For the Phoenix, Shinnosuke Oishi had a team-high 16 points, Mo Charlo scored 13 and Olu Ashaolu added nine.
89ers 107, Firebonds 67
In Sendai, Kejuan Johnson’s 24-point, 10-assist effort and Wendell White’s 16 points, 11 boards and seven assists guided the 89ers to a blowout win over Fukushima.
Center Jeral Davis scored 22 points, including three dunks, for Sendai (25-14). He added three blocks at the other end of the court.
The 89ers outscored the Firebonds 40-17 in the second quarter. That gave them a 54-34 advantage.
Adrian Moss added 14 points for the hosts and Ryo Tanaka had a 12-point effort. Point guard Takehiko Shimura finished with eight points and nine assists.
Sendai’s passing was effective throughout the game: 31 assists, four turnovers.
Equally impressive, the 89ers drained 15 of 26 3s (57.7 percent) and shot 53.7 percent from inside the arc.
Masaya Karimata, Edward Morris and Shota Kanno all scored 19 points apiece for Fukushima (12-27), a first-year squad that has lost five straight games.
Morris grabbed 20 rebounds, and teammate James Hughes chipped in with 10 points and 13 boards. Shinya Murakami handed out six assists.
Grouses 76, Wat’s 61
In Toyama, balanced scoring and relentless rebounding guided the Grouses past struggling Aomori.
Led by Joe Werner’s 16 points, five Toyama players scored in double figures. The others: Jamelle Horne (13 points) and Tatsunori Fujie, Masashi Joho and Sam Willard (11 apiece). Ryo Tanaka had eight points for the Grouses (27-12).
Willard hauled in a team-best 14 rebounds. Through Saturday, he is the league’s third-leading rebounder (11.5 per game).
Sendai out-rebounded Aomori 47-30.
Gordon Klaiber scored 14 points for the Wat’s (19-20), who have lost three straight. Gyno Pomare had 12 points, 14 boards and five assists and Yuki Kitamuki added nine points.
Brave Warriors 91, Broncos 75
In Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, Shinshu took control of the game in the third quarter to secure a series-opening victory.
The Broncos led 40-38 at halftime, but allowed 27 third-quarter points, while scoring 13. It was a big deficit they were unable to overcome.
Patrick Sanders was the top scorer for the Brave Warriors (16-21), putting 23 points on the board. He added eight rebounds and five assists. DeVaughn Washington had 16 points and 10 rebounds, Mohamed Abukar had 14 points, nine boards and five assists and Terrance Jennings contributed 12 points and eight rebounds. Takato Saito dished out nine assists.
Junya Masumoto paced Saitama (4-33) with 20 points and Gary Johnson added 18 points, seven assists and four steals.
The Broncos, who are 0-17 at home, only used seven players.
Big Bulls 84, Cinq Reves 64
In Hino, Iwate held Tokyo to 28.9 percent shooting from inside the arc en route to victory.
Wayne Arnold led the East-leading Big Bulls (32-7) with 18 points and Shota Onodera scored 17 points, while Lawrence Blackledge and Scootie Randall both had 13 points and six assists.
Randall collected four of Iwate’s 10 steals.
Zane Knowles had 16 points and 14 rebounds for the Cinq Reves (5-32) along with eight turnovers. Tokyo big man Will Foster added 12 points and 14 boards and Isamu Omori finished with 11 points. Yuji Ide led the hosts with six assists.
HeatDevils 90, Bambitious 85
In Kashihara, Nara Prefecture, Todd O’Brien and Kellen Thornton notched double-doubles as Oita edged the hosts.
O’Brien finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Thornton had 12 points and 18 boards.
Guard Naoto Takushi chipped in with 16 points and five assists for the playoff-chasing HeatDevils (15-24), while Demetri McCamey had 15 points, four assists and two steals and Taishiro Shimizu scored 11 points.
Nara center Michael St. John ended the game with 23 points and 13 rebounds. Chehales Tapscott had 17 points, nine boards and five helpers. James Rahon had a 14-point effort.
Bambitious playmaker Tatsuya Suzuki scored 12 points and handed out 11 assists, his third straight double-digit assist game.
Nara fell to 10-29.
Golden Kings 75, Evessa 73
In Okinawa City, defending champion Ryukyu eked out a victory over longtime rival Osaka.
Draelon Burns came off the bench and ignited the Golden Kings’ high-powered offense, scoring 29 points in 31-plus minutes.
Kibwe Trim (10 points) was the only other Ryukyu player to reach double figures in scoring.
The winning team’s depth, however, proved to be a key factor, with 11 Ryukyu players scoring two or more points in the series opener.
Josh Dollard had 30 points for the Evessa (22-17), who have dropped three straight games. Gary Hamilton had 16 points and seven rebounds and Seth Tarver scored 10 points.
The Evessa shot 4-for-17 from 3-point range.
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