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The Journal Gazette

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Dequan Jones of the Mad Ants pulls up for a 3 pointer during the 3rd quarter against the Long Island Nets during the 3rd quarter.

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette CJ Fair of the Mad Ants pulls up and drains a 3 pointer against JJ Moore of the Long Island Nets during the 2nd quarter at the Allen County War Memorial Colisium.

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Walt Lemon Jr of the Mad Ants drives against Jacob Wiley of the Long Island Nets during the 1st quarter at the Allen County War Memorial Colisium.

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Trey McKinney Jones pulls up for a 3 pointer against Jacob Wiley of the Long Island Nets during the 1st quarter.

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Walt Lemon Jr takes his time on an open 3 pointer against the Long Island Nets at the Allen County War Memorial Colisium.

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette TJ Leaf of the Mad Ants goes up strong against Shannon Scott and Kendall Gray of the Long Island Nets during the 1st quarter.

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Dequan Jones of the Mad Ants drives against Milton Doyle of the Long Island Nets during the 2nd quarter at the Allen County War Memorial Colisium.

Thursday, December 21, 2017 9:30 pm

Stars look good, but Mad Ants lose again

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Trey McKinney Jones, who returned Dec. 2 from offseason shoulder surgery, continues to look stronger and had his second straight 18-point game, making 7 of 11 shots in the eighth game he’s played since suffering an injury during NBA Summer League.

Meanwhile, teammate Walt Lemon Jr. did what he’s been doing all season long, eviscerating the opposition’s defense on his way to 31 points at Memorial Coliseum, where an announced crowd of 1,624 was on hand tonight.

But the result for the Mad Ants was a 120-117 loss to the Long Island Nets.

It was Fort Wayne’s fifth loss in its last six games.

Lemon made 13 of 21 shots with 10 assists.

DeQuan Jones added 21 points for the Mad Ants (11-7).

Leading Long Island (13-6) was Milton Doyle with 30 points.

The Mad Ants had last played the Nets in the Nov. 4 season opener, a 115-99 Nets victory in Uniondale, New York, and that game saw Fort Wayne trail by 22 points – the largest deficit they’ve faced all season.

Despite making 13 of 19 shots, the Mad Ants trailed 32-30 tonight after the first quarter, when Doyle had 10 of the Nets’ points and they made 4 of 9 shots from beyond the 3-point line.

The Mad Ants took a 37-34 lead on a Jarrod Uthoff 3-pointer with 10:07 remaining in the second quarter.

McKinney Jones propelled the Mad Ants to a 42-36 lead with a 3-pointer with 8:30 remaining. Seconds later, Uthoff’s block of an Isaiah Whitehead shot set up McKinney Jones for a no-look pass to C.J. Fair, a dunk and a 44-36 lead.

Lemon, who came into the night tied for fourth in the league with 23.2 points per game, put the Mad Ants up 61-50 with a 3-pointer with 1:21 left in the second quarter.

He made his first seven shots for 17 points, as Fort Wayne built a 67-58 halftime lead with 64.3-percent shooting from the field, well ahead of the Nets’ 51.2-percent pace.

Jones had a couple of key 3-pointers and had 12 points in the third quarter, including a shot from beyond the arc for a 75-65 lead, and the Mad Ants tried to play at a fast pace to take advantage of the fact that the Nets had played Wednesday at Hoffman Estates, Illinois, beating the Windy City Bulls 114-113 in double overtime.

But the Nets went on an 11-0 run, culminating with an Akil Mitchell put-back, to take a 76-75 lead with 6:25 left in the third quarter. That was answered by a thunderous Jones dunk.

Answering a Jones 3-pointer, Kamari Murphy went unfettered through the lane for a dunk and a 111-105 Nets lead with 2:13 left in the fourth quarter.

With Fort Wayne down 115-113, Lemon missed a shot from the paint with 29 seconds left and failed to draw a foul, the officials then drawing the ire of the fans who thought there should have been one.

Notes: The Pacers have acquired the naming rights to the fieldhouse in Westfield’s Grand Park youth athletic complex, which will be known as Pacers Athletic Center. It houses eight indoor courts and will play host to eight U.S. Jr. NBA Regional Championships. With the Pacers yet to make any public commitment to Fort Wayne beyond this season – their lease with Memorial Coliseum is expiring – this could fuel the fire of rumors that they could move to the Indianapolis area. … Long Island is coached by former Butler point guard Ronald Nored, 27.

jcohn@jg.net