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The Journal Gazette

Monday, November 20, 2017 9:20 pm

Fair deals Mad Ants another victory

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

The outcome was the same – a Mad Ants victory. How they got there was different – Walt Lemon Jr., for the first time this season, didn’t lead them in scoring.

In a 91-78 victory tonight over the Canton Charge at Memorial Coliseum, it was C.J. Fair leading the way with 26 points. This isn’t to say Lemon had a bad game, though, finishing with 13 points as the Mad Ants won their fifth straight game and improved to 4-0 at the Coliseum.

It was the first of four games between the Mad Ants (5-1) and Canton (2-4), which had two NBA-caliber centers: 20-year-old Ante Žižic, a first-round pick by Boston in the 2016 NBA Draft, and 33-year-old Kendrick Perkins, who has played 924 NBA games and won a championship with the Celtics.

Among the Mad Ants’ NBA prospects is Ike Anibogu, a second-round pick of the Indiana Pacers in this year’s draft, who had 11 points in his second game with the Mad Ants. His dunk with 20 seconds left in the third quarter put Fort Wayne in command with a 73-55 lead.

Though he played a bit, earlier in the day the Mad Ants signed defensive-minded forward Sylar Spencer, who was a two-time Defensive Player of the Year in the Mountain West conference while at San Diego State. He started 102 of 144 games between 2012 and 2016, becoming the conference’s all-time leader in blocked shots, and he averaged 16.2 points and 14.3 rebounds in 20 games last season in Malaysia.

To make room for Spencer, 6-foot-9, the Mad Ants released center Adam Woodbury, who had played sparingly in his 14 months with the team. He played in four games this season, totaling 13 points and16 rebounds, and he has been claimed by the Westchester Knicks.

Lemon came into the night as the G League’s leading scorer with an average of 27.6 points for Fort Wayne, which hadn’t lost since falling 115-99 to the Long Island Nets in the Nov. 4 season opener at Uniondale, New York. Lemon was coming off his second 34-point game of the season – a 127-115 victory Saturday at the Coliseum over the Delaware 87ers – and he didn’t relent in the early going.

His pass from center court set up DeQuan Jones for a wide-open dunk and a 14-12 lead with 4:40 left in the first quarter. Lemon, known as one of the speediest players in the G League, put that on display by weaving his way along the sideline through Perkins and Isaac Hamilton, then skirting past Arthur Edwards, before putting a tough-angle shot off the glass at the buzzer for a 25-19 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Lemon’s layup with 8:39 left in the second quarter gave the Mad Ants a 34-23 lead.

And Jarrod Uthoff, the Mad Ants’ 6-foot-9 forward/center, did a pretty good Allen Iverson impression by going between his legs with the ball to fake his way past JaCorey Williams for a dunk and a 45-38 lead with 2:34 left in the quarter.

Rookie Ben Moore’s 3-pointer with 2:10 left in the third propelled the Mad Ants to a commanding 71-54 lead.

Notes: Among those in attendance were Stephen Simon, the Indiana Pacers’ co-owner and alternate NBA Governor; Rick Fuson, the president and chief operating officer; and Peter Dinwiddie, senior vice president of basketball operations. Simon’s father, Herb, is the Pacers’ majority owner.

jcohn@jg.net