Alize Johnson big in Mad Ants’ victory
The plan was for Alize Johnson, the Indiana Pacers’ second-round pick out of Missouri State, to stay with the Mad Ants for awhile and get some seasoning.
With the way he looked tonight, he’ll either get the call back to the NBA very soon or blossom into a G League standout right quick.
In a 133-105 Mad Ants victory over Maine on Saturday, Johnson totaled 27 points and 20 rebounds : 12 offensive : in front of 4,221 fans at Memorial Coliseum.
The Mad Ants’ franchise record for rebounds is 24, set by Rob Kurz in 2010.
Johnson converted 11 of 20 shots in just his second game for the Mad Ants (2-1), who are off until Wednesday, when they play at the Wisconsin Herd.
The Red Claws (1-3) were paced by Walt Lemon Jr., who had 23 points. Lemon starred for the Mad Ants in 2015-16 and 2017-18. This was the first time he played against the Ants.
Under the guidance of Mad Ants coach Steve Gansey, Lemon got his first NBA call-up last season to the New Orleans Pelicans and signed a two-way contract last summer with the Boston Celtics, which is how he wound up with their minor-league team, the Red Claws.
The Mad Ants were coming off Friday’s 116-111 home-opening victory over Erie in which Edmond Sumner and Ben Moore had 22 points apiece.
Paced by Stephan Hicks and Johnson, who had eight points apiece, the Mad Ants took a 27-22 lead through the first quarter.
But then the Mad Ants’ pace of play took off and so did their lead. Rookie Rob Gray’s 3-pointer made it 32-24. A 40-foot pass by Tra-Deon Hollins set up rookie Demetrius Denzel-Dyson for a wide-open dunk and a 36-26 lead. And Denzel-Dyson’s fastbreak dunk made it 40-26 with 8:28 remaining in the second quarter.
Fort Wayne’s lead was up to 67-48 by halftime, at which point Johnson had 13 points and 13 rebounds.
And a 3-pointer by Fort Wayne’s Omari Johnson : the Red Claws’ all-time leader in games played : may have put things out of reach by making it 78-52 with 9:44 left in the third quarter.
Moore had 19 points tonight.
The Mad Ants played without Ike Anigbogu, the second-year Pacers player who had a scheduled day of rest.