Ben Moore, a rookie, had just hit his second game-winning shot of the season when he was asked what he was continuing to work on this season.
“Just getting a lot of shots up, just getting a lot of shooting done,” Moore, a 6-foot-8 Mad Ants forward, said Sunday. “I've changed my form up a little bit, but just shooting in particular has been the emphasis with my game this season.”
Moore proceeded to have his finest game as a professional, making 7 of 12 shots, all 12 of his free-throw attempts, finishing with 28 points in a 127-122 victory Tuesday over the division-rival Wisconsin Herd in Milwaukee.
After completing his college career at SMU – he averaged 9 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists over 135 career games – he impressed the NBA's Indiana Pacers during his tryout. And he has stood out for the Mad Ants, particularly lately with winning shots against the Windy City Bulls on Nov. 11 and Northern Arizona Suns on Nov. 26.
Fort Wayne (8-1), which plays host to the Westchester Knicks (7-4) at 7 p.m. today at Memorial Coliseum, is trying to win its ninth straight game – which would be a franchise regular-season record. The all-time team record is 12 straight victories – six in the regular season, six in the postseason – en route to the 2014 championship.
The lineup will look different tonight, as the Pacers have sent to Fort Wayne forward Alex Poythress, who starred for the Mad Ants as a rookie last season, and rookie center Ike Anigbogu. Poythress' productivity last season, when he averaged 18.5 points and 7.1 rebounds, earned him a late-season contract with the Philadelphia 76ers and this year's two-way contract with the Pacers.
The Mad Ants have done well with rookies over the last few seasons, including Stephan Hicks, Jarrod Uthoff and Ben Bentil, and Moore seems no exception.
“Shooting has been the most important thing. I was working with the coaches there (in Indianapolis) throughout training camp, and even before I got down there, so it's just been a long process of working on my shot,” said Moore, who said he's also worked on his defensive game.
“Don't get back-doored; don't fall asleep on the back side.”
If there has been a complaint about the Mad Ants' performances this season, it has been a tendency to let down, such as they did Sunday when they squandered a 29-point lead before getting Moore's winning shot off a miss by Walt Lemon Jr. for the 118-116 victory.
“Don't be complacent out there,” Moore said. “We've always got to be the aggressors out there, whether we're up by 20 or 10. We've got to act like it's zero-zero all the time.”
Lemon was selected the G League's Player of the Month on Friday, after he averaged 26.6 points, 6.4 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 2.7 steals.
The Ants are the only team in the league unbeaten at home – 6-0 – and have yet to have Edmond Sumner or Trey McKinney Jones because of injuries. They are embracing being perhaps the league's team to beat.
“It means teams are always going to give us our best shot and that we've always got to come out and play our best, too. It's a good thing being (on a roll), always a good thing,” Moore said.