EDINBURG, Texas — The Rio Grande Valley Vipers defeated the Santa Cruz Warriors, 144-125, on Tuesday night in the Western Conference Final to claim the title and earn a trip to the NBA G League Finals behind Dakarai Tucker’s 29-point performance.
In a very tightly contested first quarter, the Santa Cruz Warriors pushed ahead of the Vipers, 38-32, 16 of those points coming from the bench for the Warriors. For Rio Grande, Houston Rockets two-way player Vincent Edwards led the offensive charge with six points.
A completely different scene unfolded at Bert Ogden Arena in the second quarter as the Vipers turned it around and went into the locker boasting a 75-59 lead behind a tremendous effort by Tucker, who drained five 3-pointers en route to 19 first half points. Gary Payton ll was the second highest scorer for Rio Grande with 11 points, four assists.
For Santa Cruz, Kendrick Nunn scored 13 points to help pad the deficit. He was closely followed by Golden State Warriors assignee Jacob Evans who tallied 10 points, one assist before heading to the break.
After three quarters of play, there were five Vipers in the double digits as Tucker grew his point total to 24 to continue leading the scoring effort. Michael Frazier had 17 points after three, including four baskets from beyond the arc.
The fourth quarter rolled around, and the Rio Grande Valley Vipers found themselves hoisting the Western Conference Championship trophy as they closed out the game with a 144-125 victory. Payton ll locked in a triple-double as he scored 20 points, 12 rebounds and 10 steals. Frazier totaled 24 points, four assists on the night.
Tucker was able to rack up 28 total points, four rebounds, three assists. Houston Rockets assignee Isaiah Hartenstein scored yet another double-double as he tallied 14 points, 14 rebounds for the Vipers.
For Santa Cruz, Nunn ended with 29 points to lead all scorers, he added on seven rebounds and five assists. Evans helped the Warriors with 13 points to close out his line. Damion Lee totaled 12 points, six rebounds, six assists.