The great: Santa Cruz defense
The Santa Cruz Warriors had another strong defensive game, holding the Reno Bighorns to just 29.4% shooting from the field in the game and only 23.8% shooting in the fourth quarter (which was when they let up a bit in their first game against Reno.
Tyler was unquestionably a part of that and looking at Reno's fourth quarter shot chart helps to illustrate that.
There were stretches during these first two games in which Reno wasn't getting into the paint at all against the Warriors' strong team defense, but you'll see that Reno did in fact get into the paint quite a bit against the Warriors which is what helped them cut a 22-point lead in the third quarter to just a 6-point lead with 10 minutes left in the fourth.
Yet part of holding Reno to just 23.8% shooting in the fourth quarter was the Warriors recording five of their 11 blocks in that final period with Mickell Gladness swatting away three of them. And although Tyler didn't pick up any blocks in that quarter, his presence in the paint next to Gladness clearly made a difference throughout the game in forcing Reno players into contested looks in the paint.
The Good: Tyler's plus/minus & other highlights
- You never want to read too much into single-game plus/minus, but Tyler was a +10 in the fourth quarter and a +23 for the game. Even if he wasn't scoring, he drew attention from the defense in pick and roll situations and he made an impact defensively that we really can't just ignore.
Aside from Tyler, first round draft pick Travis Leslie stood out as impressive in his second game with Santa Cruz. His athleticism is what really set him apart, as the 6'4" guard had 9 rebounds and a beautiful block in the fourth quarter to go with his 17 points, which included 5-for-6 free throw shooting.
Stefhon Hannah had 13 points on 13 shots through three quarters, but really stepped up in the fourth to help the Warriors pull away. Hannah got into a zone in the fourth with 12 points on 4-for-6 shooting including two threes. What was most impressive was the reigning Defensive Player of the Year's ability to create shots, even if the degree of difficulty on a couple of those shots was high. He's an exciting player to watch when he's on, as he was in the fourth, and the key will be to see if he can remain consistent. If there's a guy I'm sort of starting to root for independent of the numbers, he's it - it's hard to communicate through words on the screen, but even from our interview on media it's evident that this guy is pure heart.
- Gladness finished with a game-high 13 rebounds to go with his game-high of 5 blocks, which matched the total number of blocks by Reno.
The Bad: Tyler had as many fouls as points
Unfortunately, the rest of the numbers don't put Tyler's performance in a very favorable light.
Tyler finished with 5 points on 2-for-9 shooting to go with 5 fouls, 4 turnovers, and no offensive rebounds. Not exactly what we would consider a promising line for a player signed to a NBA contract on a D-League team.
In Tyler's defense, it's gotta be harder for big men to get going in a D-League setting.— Marcus Thompson (@gswscribe) December 3, 2012
The Ugly: Tyler got whistled for a technical foul after an exchange with Carl Landry's brother
With 8:17 left in the third quarter, an ongoing exchange between Tyler and Marcus Landry - Carl's brother - turned into a double technical.
At that point, the lead was at 21 points and really stayed in the 20-point range until Tyler left the game a few minutes later shortly after picking up his fourth foul. It was during that time that Tyler was out of the game - about an 8 minute span crossing the third and fourth quarters - that the Warriors lead went from 19 to 6, which is a testament to the value of Tyler's presence.
Whatever we want to say about how much a D-League performance matters for NBA potential, a technical foul was definitely not something you'd want to see from a young player whose maturity has been questioned since the moment he left high school early to play overseas. Unfortunately, the double tech was a low point of a night that featured a surprising amount of pleading with refs over fouls and talking to opponents.