WHITE PLAINS, December 2, 2015 – The Westchester Knicks (6-1), the official NBA Development League affiliate of the New York Knickerbockers, suffered its first loss of the 2015-16 season to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (5-3) by just one point, the final score 98-97.
The Knicks struggled to find their rhythm in the early morning contest, netting just six points as a team in the first six minutes. Syracuse alum Rakeem Christmas found his footing right away, scoring eight of the Mad Ants’ 28 points in the first quarter. Taking advantage of Westchester’s 23.8 shooting percentage, Fort Wayne ran away with the lead after the first twelve minutes 28-17.
Despite a few short runs from the Knicks, the Mad Ants went ahead by as many as 13 points in the second quarter. Powered by eight points each from NBA Assignee Cleanthony Early and from the bench, Darion Atkins, Westchester came within five but still trailed Fort Wayne 54-48 at the half.
Christmas came early for the Mad Ants in the third quarter, the forward netting 12 points to give Fort Wayne as much as an 18 point advantage. Westchester’s Thanasis Antetokounmpo slammed one in in the final two minutes, followed by a Jordon Crawford jumper, but the Knicks still trailed by 12 heading into the fourth.
The 2,000-plus kids in attendance for Westchester’s annual School Day game got the show they wanted in the fourth quarter as it looked like the Knicks would make a comeback. Sean Marshall laid one in off the dish from Crawford to trim the lead down to five early in the quarter, but the stubborn Mad Ants would never give up the lead. With under three minutes to go, Marshall hit a lay-up followed by a sweet jumper to bring Westchester within one point. A shot clock turnover with 12.4 seconds on the clock gave the Knicks back the ball, but solid defense from the Mad Ants nipped Westchester’s chances, and NBA Development League Coach of the Month Mike Miller suffered his first loss with Westchester.
Despite the loss, Jimmer Fredette continued to fill the stats sheet, finishing with 22 points, nine assists, seven rebounds, and five steals. Darion Atkins recorded a double-double off the bench, contributing 18 points and 10 rebounds. On assignment from the New York Knicks, Cleanthony Early supplied 16 points and nine rebounds. Sean Marshall rounded out the double-digit scoring with 12 points, also adding nine rebounds.
Rakeem Christmas finished with a game-high 25 points, securing the double-double with 13 rebounds and also swatting three blocks. Guard Xavier Thames delivered 14 points with three each of assists and steals, while forward Marcus Simmons notched a double-double of his own, recording 13 points and 11 rebounds.