CANTON, Ohio — The Canton Charge dropped Game 1 of the NBA Development League Eastern Conference Finals, 112-104, Tuesday night at the Canton Memorial Civic Center.
Two of the league’s best teams struggled to gain control early in the contest, exchanging the lead nine times in the first 24 minutes, including six ties. Sioux Falls’ Greg Whittington had a spotless first half, posting 12 points on 6-of-6 shooting and grabbing seven rebounds. An impressive second quarter from Cleveland Cavaliers assignment Sasha Kaun (nine points, six rebounds) helped Canton take a 51-49 lead into the half.
The Charge maintained an advantage by as 12 through the majority of the third quarter, eventually entering the fourth leading 85-79. The Skyforce went on an 18-2 run to begin the fourth and take a 97-89 advantage. A Quinn Cook layup at the 3:03 mark brought Canton within four, but the top-seeded Skyforce would push their lead to as many as 10 before hanging on as the series shifts to Sioux Falls.
Cook recorded his second double-double in three games of the postseason, netting 25 points and dishing 10 assists with three steals in a team-high 42 minutes. Jordan McRae provided 21 points, four rebounds and five assists in his Charge debut on assignment from the Cavaliers. Kaun impressed in his Charge debut as well, finishing with 15 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks in 30 minutes. Nick Minnerath provided 11 points off the bench in 24 minutes.
Rodney McGruder paced Sioux Falls with a game-high 30 points on 11-of-20 shooting, including 5-of-10 from distance and 25 points in the second half alone. Jarnell Stokes scored 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting while grabbing eight rebounds in 26 minutes. Keith Benson added 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting in an efficient 20 minutes off the bench. Whittington finished with 18 points of his own off the Sioux Falls bench that outscored Canton’s 41-22.