It’s been a struggle this season for Canton to put together four complete quarters and finish games. In many of their losses they have typically started strong and faltered in the second half. On Saturday night they put together a complete game. The Knicks (24-13) scored the first points of the game taking a 2-0 lead. That was their last lead as the Charge (13-20) took a 3-2 lead on a Marcus Thornton three and never looked back in defeating Westchester 99-91 in front of 3,204 at the Memorial Civic Center.
The Charge came out hitting four of their first five three point shots to start the lead jumping out to a 12-2 lead in the first four minutes. They were able to maintain that lead as they shot 67% (6/9) from three point range in the first quarter and led 26-16. Marcus Thornton led the scoring with nine points on 3/4 from three. The Knicks shot only 37% from the floor (25% from three).
The second quarter was played pretty even as the Knicks continued their cold shooting. Canton’s Caleb Swanigan went to work inside & out scoring eight points in the quarter including only his eight three point make of the season. Canton outscored Westchester 25-23 in the second taking a 51-39 lead into halftime. Swanigan had 12 points and six rebounds in the first half. Ante Zizic was also big with 10 points and nine rebounds. The Knicks were led by Billy Garrett who dropped in 10 points off the bench.
The Knicks came out strong to start the second half as they were able to cut the Charge lead to 55-50 with 7:40 to play in the third. Canton then took control as they outscored the Knicks 23-14 the rest of the quarter leading by as many as 18 points. Marcus Thornton hit two more three point shots adding to his 17 points for the game. Cavaliers assignee Ante Zizic had some nice moments in the paint in the third as he scored seven points and tied Thornton for the team high with 17 points. Billy Garrett continued his strong play as he led the Knicks after three with 17 points. Canton took a 79-64 lead into the final quarter.
Once again the Knicks came out strong to begin the fourth quarter gradually chipping away at the Charge 15 point lead. They were able to close to within seven at 87-80 on a three ball by Xavier Rathan-Mayes with 4:49 to play in the game. The Charge were up for the challenge on this night. With Canton holding a 93-85 lead with 1:01 to go the Knicks were forced to foul and Canton hit all six of their free throws in the final minute to close out the game. It was a balanced scoring attack in the fourth for the Charge. Ante Zizic put together one of his best games with the Charge finishing with 21 points and 17 rebounds. Marcus Thornton was big again also scoring 21 points hitting his final four free throws to close out the game. Caleb Swanigan in his final game with the Charge had 18 points and eight rebounds. He is expected to be recalled by the Portland Trailblazers on Monday.
After the game Zizic talked about how he has overcome poor play of late due to losing 14 pounds from the flu.
“I got the flu for like 10 days and lost a couple pounds,” said Zizic. “The last couple games I did not play well and the game before I played well being in better shape.”
Coach Nate Reinking also talked about Zizic and his big time performance against the Knicks.
“Fantastic…it seems like the more minutes he gets the better he’s getting,” said Reinking. “Very very solid performance.”
After many close losses against the top teams in the G League the Charge were able to get a quality win over Westchester who came in with the best record in the league at 24-12. Nate Reinking talked about how nice it was to finally get over the hump against a top team.
“I tell these guys if we don’t have our mental lapses in all these games every game it seems like the plus or minus is three points,” said Reinking. “If we play consistent I believe we are one of the top teams in the league.”
The Knicks were led by Billy Garrett who scored 26 points off the bench. Xavier Rathan-Mayes had 18 points and six rebounds.
The Charge now head out on a four game road trip and do not return back home to the Civic Center until February 21st against Oklahoma City Blue. The road trip begins Monday night in Mississauga, ON against Raptors 905.