HIDALGO, TX– The South Bay Lakers dropped their third consecutive road game as they lost to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, 124-118 (box score), on Thursday night. Thomas Bryant poured in 31 points and Scott Machado tallied 18 points with a career-high 14 assists, but South Bay (14-9) fell behind by as many as 21 points and could not regain the lead. Monte Morris had a huge game for Rio Grande Valley (16-9) as he scored 20 points and dished out 17 assists in the win.
A high scoring first quarter found the Vipers ahead, 40-36, behind 11 early points from Morris, while Bryant paced the Lakers with 10 points through one. The Vipers pulled away in the second as they closed the quarter on a 28-4 run to take a 76-55 halftime lead. Stephaun Branch tried to keep his team close with 10 points in the quarter, but the balance of the Vipers helped them extend their lead.
South Bay struggled to cut the deficit in the third, as Rio Grande Valley led 99-82 going into the fourth. Bryant tallied 12 more in the third as neither team hit a shot from deep in the period. The Lakers showed fight in the fourth quarter as they cut the deficit to three, thanks to 11 points from Vander Blue, but were not able to leave with a victory.
Double-doubles by Morris (20 points, 17 assists, five rebounds) and Tyler Lydon (19 points, 14 rebounds) led the way for the Vipers, while Zhou Qi finished with 23 point, eight rebounds and a clutch jumper that put the game away. Cleanthony Early (19 points), Isaiah Hartenstein (18 points, seven rebounds) and Julien Lewis (13 points) also finished in double figures.
Bryant’s 31 points and Machado’s double-double paced the Lakers, while Blue tallied 26 points and nine assists of his own. Branch tied his career-high with 21 points to go along with 11 rebounds off the bench and Travis Wear finished with 10 points and eight rebounds for South Bay.
The South Bay Lakers finish their road trip against the Oklahoma City Blue on Saturday, January 6 at 5:00 from the Cox Convention Center.
The NBA G League’s South Bay Lakers, the first franchise in G League history to be owned by an NBA team (Los Angeles Lakers), returns for its 11th season of competition in 2017-18. The Lakers franchise has established itself as a top producer of NBA-ready talent, totaling 26 NBA Call-Ups and developing 19 Lakers assignment players since the inaugural 2006-07 season. Last season, the Lakers returned to the playoffs for the third time in the last four years and produced the league MVP in guard Vander Blue. The Lakers have claimed three division titles and have twice competed in the NBA G League Finals, most recently in 2015-16.