Blazer5 Gaming fought through a fierce Knicks Gaming squad and even fiercer New York home crowd, riding the waves of emotion to conclude Week 2 of the NBA 2K League with a 74-70 victory.
The strategy for both teams was decided before the opening tip, as Blazer5 (2-0) and Knicks Gaming (1-1) entered the contest without pure rim protectors. That set the stage for a dynamic low-post battle, as the team’s power forwards and centers combined for 46 percent of the total shots taken in the game.
While breakout Knicks center G O O F Y 757 led all scorers with 29 points, he took 23 shots to hit the mark as Blazer5 Gaming collapsed on him every time he touched the ball. It certainly helped that center OneWildWalnut, Portland’s first-round pick in the inaugural NBA 2K League Draft, morphed into a defensive juggernaut even without the preferred archetype, blocking six shots, five of which came in the first half alone. He wasn’t just a defensive force, however, as he also did work on the offensive end, leading all Blazer5 scorers with 24 points.
Despite the impressive work of the Portland center, Blazer5 Gaming didn’t actually earn a lead until the opening portions of the fourth quarter. That was thanks in large part to an uncharacteristically high amount of turnovers, as THE TIPOFF runner-ups gave the ball away 13 times – just the third time they’ve reached double digits in turnovers this season. Taking advantage of a multitude of fast break buckets, Knicks Gaming managed to stave off Blazer5 throughout much of the game, and on the rare occasions where they were forced to set up a half court offense, they generally capitalized on the increased pressure down low by canning open three-point attempts, finishing the evening 8-of-16 from beyond the arc.
Those opportunities fell to the wayside in the final six minutes though, as OneWildWalnut and power forward Dat Boy Shotz victimized the paint, both offensively and defensively, forcing Knicks Gaming into contested shots or outright turnovers. Portland’s momentum swelled from there, and a 23-17 run in the final frame helped Blazer5 Gaming conclude Week 2 as one of just three unbeaten teams in the NBA 2K League regular season.