talon gc 7/31

Cleveland Cavs Legion GC and Atlanta Hawks Talon GC prepare to begin the second quarter of game of their three-game series Friday night. (Photo courtesy of the "NBA 2K" League)

Last time Talon GC met Cleveland’s Cavs Legion GC in the “NBA 2K” League, technical issues yielded a 65-point victory for the Atlanta Hawks affiliate. 

On Friday, the technical issues stuck around, but Talon needed one of its best performances of the season to take the 2-0 series sweep and improve to 6-8 on the year. 

In game one, Talon point guard Michael “Bp” Diaz-Cruz put up 14 of his team’s 18 first quarter points. He scored five in the next six minutes as Legion GC cut Talon’s lead in half by the break.

Connectivity problems forced the game to restart after halftime, and right as Cleveland began to climb back into contention, the game cut out again. 

“Momentum is real,” Talon head coach Wesley Acuff said. “So, if you make a few mistakes, sometimes it snowball effects. When you do a few good things, you get rewarded, so you see it both ways.”

The avalanche slid in Talon’s favor once play resumed, and Atlanta went on an 11-0 run two and a half minutes into what was then the third quarter. Although Legion settled in, they never emerged from the hole, falling 73-63 in game one.

Diaz-Cruz soared with 34 points, eight assists and just three turnovers. Yet the biggest difference maker was center Levi “Lee” Lamb, who grabbed 14 rebounds along with 18 points on 9-of-11 shooting. 

“Lee is like the defensive anchor on one side of the court and then also a great decision maker on the offensive end,” Acuff said. “Lee is going to be really good in this league. I’m really happy with his performances, and that’s a big key to us getting some wins out there.”

Game two came down to the wire, a rare occurrence over the previous 13 games of Talon’s 2020 season. Once again, Talon got off to a hot 14-2 start. But Legion’s silent offense found both its voice and its touch around the rim, battling back to cut the deficit to five after the first quarter.  

Slowly the game tipped in Cleveland’s favor. Midway through the third quarter, Legion GC was up by nine points and threatening to put the game out of reach. Diaz-Cruz scored only three points in the third quarter, but two 3-pointers from Mykel “Kel” Wilson and consistent play from Lee and power forward Derrion “Arkele” Elmore brought Talon within one with six minutes to go.

“I was just letting the guys know, “Settle down, this is still our game,’” Acuff said. “Give it a good three minutes, we can pull this thing off.”

The fourth quarter was close throughout. After small forward Andrew “MrStylez” Valle sank a game-tying 3-pointer with just over a minute left, the lead switched three times as the clock wound down. 

Down two in the final seconds, Legion put up a would-be game-tying shot that bounced away as the buzzer blared. Talon won 69-67.

Talon finished with three players scoring double digits. Lee and Arkele combined for 26 points on 11-of-11 shooting, and Lee’s 12 rebounds earned him the franchise record for most double-doubles in a season with 15. The front court duo bailed out Diaz-Cruz and Wilson, who scored 39 but shot a combined 48% from the virtual floor. 

With its second straight sweep, Atlanta moved to No. 14 in the league, a three-spot jump from where it was as many weeks ago. Talon has two regular season series left before it competes in a play-in series for a spot in THE TICKET tournament, which will crown this year’s league champion. 

“We’re trying to treat every game like it’s our last game, and try to build that momentum and roll it over into the tournament,” Acuff said.

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