HIDALGO, Texas — The NBA G League’s Rio Grande Valley Vipers, affiliate of the Houston Rockets, defeated Santa Cruz Warriors 134-129 on Thursday night, solidifying their playoff position in the West.
R.J. Hunter led both teams in scoring with 37 points. Kevin Hardy had an impressive defensive stat line with eight steals and three blocks. Jabari Brown led Santa Cruz with 29 points in the game.
The Vipers established dominance in the paint early on in the game. In the first quarter, Rio Grande Valley had 30 points in the paint while the Warriors only had eight. Chris Walker added production from the bench, scoring seven points in the three and a half minutes. After going 18-of-24 in the opening quarter, the Vipers held a 41-26 lead.
At one point, the Vipers extended their lead to 22 points in the second quarter, however, the Santa Cruz offense came alive behind’s Jabari Brown’s 14 points. Santa Cruz cut the lead to single digits as both teams headed to the locker rooms with the Vipers on top 68-61.
In the third quarter, Santa Cruz Warriors stole the lead after Jeremy Pargo scored a three-pointer with nine minutes left in the quarter. RJ Hunter scored four shots from beyond the arc to help the Vipers not only regain the lead but extend it to 20 points once again.
Although the Vipers entered the fourth quarter with a 20-point cushion, the game came down to the wire as Santa Cruz mounted a late comeback. In the final thirty seconds of the game, the Vipers held a three-point lead over the Warriors. RGV’s Shane Richards helped keep Santa Cruz at a distance by converting four of his free-throws.