The Journal Gazette
Thursday, February 25, 2021 7:10 pm

Robinson flourishes in many realms, Mad Ants win

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Devin Robinson has shown a lot during this truncated G League season in Orlando, Florida.

He's gone viral on social media for an thunderous one-handed dunk. He's rebounded in bunches, using his slippery 6-foot-7 frame. He's become a master of taking charges. And he's increased his shooting range.

All of Robinson's multi-faceted game was on display Thursday in the Mad Ants' 109-95 victory over the Long Island Nets at HP Field House.

Robinson totaled 17 points – he made 8 of 10 shots, including his only 3-point attempt – and he had 15 rebounds, including eight at the offensive end. He also had two shot blocks and absorbed a Tariq Owens charge in the fourth quarter to preserve a 10-point Fort Wayne lead.

(Video highlights of the game are above.)

Robinson, who is averaging 14.6 points, 8 rebounds and .9 shot blocks this season, has enjoyed being a gritty player who takes charges since he was a sophomore in college at Florida and took three charges against Ole Miss in 2016.

“I began to think, 'This might be my niche,' so I just kept trying to get them,” said Robinson, a fourth-year pro. “I try to take at least two of them every game. I'm trying to make a name for myself with the most charges ever.”

Robinson, 25, who has played in eight NBA games with Washington, already has a reputation for being dangerous in the paint – at both ends. He averaged 17.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.1 shot blocks last season while playing for Raptors 905 alongside Oshae Brissett, who had a game-best 24 points for Fort Wayne on Thursday.

Robinson came into Thursday fourth in the league with 12 charges taken (Lakeland's Tahjere McCall had a league-best 19).

The Mad Ants (4-6), who have won three of their last four, are 1 games out of the eighth and final playoff spot with five games remaining in the regular season.Naz Mitrou-Long had 16 points for the Mad Ants Thursday.

A key to them upending Long Island (4-6) was outrebounding the Nets 58-35, aided by Brian Bowen II's 14 points and 10 rebounds and Amida Brimah's six points and 10 rebounds.

“We just were sticking to our same game plan,” Robinson said. “We knew they weren't going to be good defensively, so they wouldn't be good rebounding, and we just kept attacking and kept crashing. The ball just bounced our way today.”

The Nets were paced by Reggie Perry's 21 points and Jeremiah Martin's 17.

“It was a good matchup for us,” Mad Ants coach Tom Hankins said of the rebounding disparity. “Since Amida joined us (five games ago), that has moved Devin to the second unit and he's a great matchup for second-unit opponents. We have an advantage there every time so far, and he ends up getting 15 rebounds. Also, (the Nets) weren't a real big team; I don't think they're a great rebounding team to begin with. So Devin got to play a lot more minutes and he did a great job cleaning the glass.”

The Mad Ants commanded the early play and took a 32-15 lead on Brissett's put-back with 2:24 remaining in the first quarter. But the Nets whittled away and took a 55-54 lead on Nathan Sestina's 3-pointer with 1:10 left in the second quarter.

At halftime, Long Island led 57-54, as Perry had 18 points and Brissett 15. Things were closely contested until the Mad Ants began to pull away with Brissett's dunk, on which he drew a foul, for an 85-79 lead with 9:14 left in the fourth quarter.

Shortly after Robinson took a charge, Cassius Stanley's 3-pointer for a 103-92 Mad Ants lead with 2:45 remaining effectively put the game out of reach.

“This was a big win today,” said Robinson, whose Mad Ants face Agua Caliente at 11 a.m. Friday. “Everybody was keying in. We don't have many games left in the bubble. We know we didn't get off to a great start, but we know we can turn it around and still make the playoffs. We can't lose no more games, so we have to lock in and keep playing every game like it's our last.”

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