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The Journal Gazette

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants forward Jarrod Uthoff hits a 3-point basket over Swarm center L.G. Gill in the second quarter at Memorial Coliseum on Monday.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants forward TJ Leaf takes it up for an easy basket in the first quarter against Greensboro Swarm at Memorial Coliseum on Monday.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants forward TJ Leaf takes it up for an easy basket in the second quarter against Greensboro Swarm at Memorial Coliseum on Monday.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants Trey McKinney-Jones hits a 3-point basket over Drive defender Sam Thompson in the second quarter at Memorial Coliseum on Monday.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants forward TJ Leaf dunks the ball in the first quarter against Greensboro Swarm at Memorial Coliseum on Monday.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants forward Jarrod Uthoff takes it up for an easy basket in front of Drive center L.G. Gill in the second quarter at Memorial Coliseum on Monday.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants guard DeQuan Jones drives the ball to the basket in front of Swarm guard Archie Goodwin in the first quarter at Memorial Coliseum on Monday.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants forward Stephan Hicks dunks the ball over Swarm forward Jalen Jones in the first quarter at Memorial Coliseum on Monday.  

Monday, December 18, 2017 11:10 pm

Mad Ants went to paint, won

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

What was the biggest difference with the Mad Ants tonight in their 127-124 victory over the Greensboro Swarm? The way they attacked the basket.

Not only does that get more points for Walt Lemon Jr., who came into the night with 23 points per game (sixth in the G League) and had 26 tonight, but it opens things up for his teammates and gets the Mad Ants to the free-throw line.

And they did a better job of going to the paint as the game went along, as evidenced by them only getting one free throw in the first half and 26 in the second half.

But the downside was their free-throw shooting; they made only 16 of 27 and that allowed the Swarm to whittle a 17-point lead down to one in the waning minutes.

Luckily for the Mad Ants, T.J. Leaf answered that with a key 3-pointer en route to his 33 points. In two G League games, he’s averaged 26.5 points and 9 rebounds and made 23 of 40 shots.

“He can score the ball. He was doing it inside and out, and driving,” Mad Ants coach Steve Gansey said. “One of the things I told him was, he’s not going against the (Hassan) Whitesides and the (Andre) Drummonds and those big guys of the NBA. There are some smaller guys here, so attacking that basket and using his length, he’s got to continue doing that. I was just really happy with how he came out aggressive.”

The Mad Ants just looked more like the Mad Ants tonight than they did during their four-game losing streak, their worst skid since February. They were spreading the ball around and playing at a higher pace and talking.

But there’s still a ways to go for them to get back to where they were a few weeks ago. Chemistry has a lot to do with that, I think, but the good news is it sounds like Leaf and Ike Anigbogu will be here at least through Thursday’s game at Memorial Coliseum against Long Island, so there’s more time to jell.

jcohn@jg.net