The Salt Lake City Stars fell to 0-5 tonight with a loss to the Oklahoma City Blues, but there were positive signs for both Stars and Jazz fans. With this win the Blues advanced to a D-League best record 5-1. They have been surging behind the play of Dakari Johnson, who was just named D-League performer of the week, and Reggie Williams. While the Stars did not win, the kept it close throughout the game and cut the Blue’s lead down to five with 4:15 minutes left against a very good team.
Joel Bolomboy and Sundiata Gaines made their Stars debuts tonight and both proved to be welcomed additions to the club. Gaines is a familiar face in Utah and is remembered for his game winning shot when he was on a ten-day contract with the Jazz against the Cleveland Cavaliers. With Gaines on the team, the Stars now have an additional ball handler. Last game Paige had a bunch of turnovers, and a big reason for that was because he was the only ball handler on the team. Gaines can now alleviate some of that pressure and even allow Paige to play off ball some.
Before the game when asked about how many minutes Bolomboy would be playing tonight Coach Cooper said, “As many as he can handle”. That turned out to be accurate as Bolomboy played 41 minutes. While he only scored nine points on 4-12 shooting, the rest of his game looked great. His athleticism was on full display as he added 12 rebounds, including four offensive boards, and two block. There were moments were Bolomboy appeared to be the most athletic player on the court, which is what you want to see from your young developing player. Bolomboy also added four assists which mostly came from him passing to open shooters when the defense double teamed him. This was good to see because one of the biggest areas he needs to work on right now is his overall basketball IQ.
The Utah Jazz sent support in the form of players and staff. Among those representing the Jazz were Rudy Gobert, George Hill, Joe Johnson, Trey Lyles, Joe Ingles, Boris Diaw, Raul Neto, and Dennis Lindsey. Stars staff actually only knew that Gobert and Diaw were coming to the game ahead of time. The rest of the players came just to be with their teammates and support Bolomboy and Paige. In fact, Johnson actually bought VIP tickets at the front door to get in because he didn’t want to miss the rookie’s first game. This sense of brotherhood is something that should have Jazz fans excited.
Joe Johnson, George Hill, Rudy Gobert and Raul Neto have also shown up for support. pic.twitter.com/B9EBdc5gbQ
— Salt Lake City Stars (@slcstars) November 22, 2016