The Journal Gazette
 
 
Thursday, February 06, 2020 1:00 am

Dad-to-be Lemon regains form with Mad Ants

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Walt Lemon Jr. knows there are more important things than basketball – for example, the twin kids his girlfriend will deliver soon – so he's not sweating any small things that happen on the court.

“The twins are coming any day, that's really what's lifted me up and helped me start playing better,” the Mad Ants' guard said. “I'm not just playing for myself anymore. I've got two little ones on the way that are depending on me, so that's an amazing feeling and I can't explain it.”

Lemon has been doing big things on the court for the Mad Ants (15-15), who have won 12 of their last 17 games to reach the .500 mark for the first time this season.

In the Mad Ants' last two games –  they came back from 35 points down to beat Canton 124-118 and from 14 down to get a 122-114 victory over Raptors 905 – Lemon averaged 25.5 points, nine assists, six rebounds and six steals.

That's brought his season averages to 20.2 points, 6.3 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.8 steals in 30 games, despite a somewhat slow start to the season for a guy who made waves in the NBA late last season.

“I'm getting my rhythm,” Lemon said. “I'm definitely a lot more comfortable out there. Honestly, there's a lot going on off the court, personal reasons, but everybody is human. I'm having a lot of fun with it again, just taking it one day at a time. Whatever is meant for me, whether it's the NBA or whatever it may be, I'm not worrying about it.”

Lemon, 27, averaged 14.3 points, 5 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 27.8 minutes over six games last season with the Chicago Bulls.

After rejoining the Mad Ants this season – he played for them in 2015-16 and 2017-18 – it took time for him to jell with his new teammates. That was a team-wide issue; Fort Wayne has only Stephan Hicks, Travin Thibodeaux and Ben Moore back from last season, though Alize Johnson has been down lately from the NBA's Indiana Pacers, too.

“At the beginning, it was chemistry issue,” Lemon said. “We hadn't played together and didn't really know what guys' tendencies were, or how guys like to play in certain spots.

“As the season's gone on, guys have been finding their niches and playing with each other.”

Heading into today's 11 a.m. game at Memorial Coliseum against the Westchester Knicks (16-16), coach Steve Gansey said it's clear Lemon is again “doing Walt things for us.”

“I think it was a just a little slump where he wasn't making the shots he usually makes, and he wasn't shooting the shots he's usually shot in the past,” Gansey said.

“He's shooting over 40% from 3; he's one of the top 3-point shooters on our team and he shoots the right ones. He works on it. He's our hardest worker, always in the gym and always in the weight room.”

jcohn@jg.net


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