EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — The South Bay Lakers fought until the end, but could not come away with a victory as they lost to the Sioux Falls Skyforce, 123-113, on Saturday night. Gary Payton II came off the bench with 26 points, nine rebounds and four steals for the Lakers (24-15), but it wasn’t enough for South Bay.
Derrick Jones Jr. finished with 30 points for Sioux Falls (21-17) as the Skyforce won the season series, 2-1, over the Lakers. It was the fifth straight win for the Skyforce.
South Bay’s reserves scored 14 points in the first, but Derrick Walton Jr. of the Skyforce scored eight early points to give his team a 31-26 lead after one. Andre Ingram and Payton II continued to pace their squad in the second quarter as the bench duo combined for 17 of South Bay’s 31 points, but the Skyforce went into the half with a 61-57 lead.
Scott Machado and James Southerland scored 19 points in the third quarter, but Jones Jr. came alive for Sioux Falls with 14 points to give the Skyforce a 96-88 lead. Payton II and Jones Jr. went back-and-forth in the final period, each scoring 10 points, as Sioux Falls was able to hold off the Lakers and grab the win.
Jones Jr. (30 points, six rebounds, five assists) and Walton Jr. (18 points, four rebounds, six assists, three steals) guided the Skyforce, while Rodney McGruder scored 16 points in his season debut. Tony Mitchell came off the bench for 14 points and Kadeem Jack grabbed a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Briante Weber also scored in double figures for Sioux Falls with 11 points to go along with eight rebounds, five assists and five steals.
Strong point guard play by Payton II and Machado (22 points, six rebounds, nine assists) paced the Lakers, while Thomas Bryant manned the middle with an 11-point, 11-rebound double-double. Southerland made his home debut for the Lakers with 18 points, seven rebounds and three blocks in 25 minutes off the bench. Ingram also reached double digits for South Bay with 12 points.