Flame free-fall continues with loss to Roanoke

— The Florida Flame’s fall from second place to sixth in the NBA Development League standings was quick.

And it was painful.

The Flame dropped their sec¬ond straight home game Saturday night, 98-97 to the Roanoke Daz¬zle, a loss that shoved the Flame from a tie for second place two days ago to sole possession of sixth. So the Flame, once atop the D-League standings, now are two spots out of a playoff berth with six games to go.

Victimized by a 46-point per¬formance from Roanoke’s Isiah Victor and struggling yet again in the low post, the Flame watched a seven-point fourth-quarter lead wither away. It was the second straight night Florida allowed the Dazzle (24-20) to pull ahead late.

“I don’t know guys,” Florida coach Jeff Malone said. “The things we do, we’re in a zone and we’re giving up lay-ups. It’s frustrating.”

Florida had one last chance to win the game, after Roanoke’s

Anthony Grundy airballed a 3-point attempt with 9.3 seconds left. The ball went to Lenny Stokes, whose jumper with time running out bounced off the rim and into Victor’s hands.

“We wanted to get the ball to Bracey (Wright),” Malone said.

“But (Roanoke) knew that. We got it to Duane (Erwin), who got it to Lenny. That’s not what we wanted, but that was our second option.”

It will be extremely difficult for the Flame to climb back into the playoff race. The next five of their final six regular-season games are on the road. Two are at playoff contender Arkansas and one is at D-League leader Fort Worth. Florida next plays Tuesday at Roanoke.

Malone, incensed by his team’s low-post ineffectiveness Friday night, had ample reason to stay angry Saturday night. Roanoke dominated the glass on both the offensive and defensive sides and, at halftime, had 14 second-chance points to Florida’s zero.

The Dazzle outrebounded the Flame, 44-31, for the game, scored

18 second-chance points and forced Florida into tons of costly fouls. The Dazzle shot 36 free throws, making 25. The Flame shot 23, making 14.

Wright scored 20 points to lead the Flame and added 13 assists.

Stokes scored 18 and George Leach added 13. Grundy scored 15 points for the Dazzle, with 18 as¬sists.

NOTES: Grundy became the first D-Leaguer to break the 1,000-point barrier for the sea¬son on his first basket, a 3-pointer with 7:04 in the first. ... Jeremy McNeil, the Flame’s 6-foot-8, 280-pound backup for¬ward, went down with an ap¬parent knee injury with three minutes left in the first and did not return. ... The Flame hon¬ored the Class 5A state champi¬on Barron Collier girls basket¬ball team at the end of the first quarter. Barron defeated na¬tionally ranked Winter Haven in February for the title.

DAZZLE 98, FLAME 97

ROANOKE (24-20) Matthews 2-4 1-4 5, Victor 15-23 16-19 46, Ramos

4-6 2-5 10, Grundy 4-19 4-5 15, Doliboa 2-6 0-0 4, Moore 1-5 1-2 3, Sally 3-5 0-0 6, Owens 4-11 1-1 9, Totals 35-79 25-36 98

FLORIDA (21-21) Nichols 3-9 1-1 7, Erwin 4-5 1-1 9, Leach 6-8 1-3 13,

Stokes 8-18 2-4 18, Wright 7-16 6-6 20, McNeil 1-1 0-0 2, Moore 5-6 2-4 12, Rowland 2-2 0-0 4, Brown 0-0 0-0 0, Rawlings 5-10 1-4 12, Sorrentine 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 41-75 14-23 97

Roanoke - 25 - 30 - 17¥ - 26 —98

Florida - 27 - 23 - 27 - 20 —97

3-point goals – Florida 1-3 (Wright 0-1, Rawlings 1-2), Roanoke 3-17 (Grundy 3-11, Matthews 0-1, Doliboa 0-2, Moore 0-3).

Total Fouls – Florida 25, Roanoke 20.

Fouled out – Leach. Technicals – Davison, Malone, Florida defensive 3-second.

Rebounds – Florida 31 (Stokes 7), Roanoke 44 (Victor 13).

Assists – Florida 34 (Wright 13), Roanoke 27 (Grundy 18). A –1,340.

LATE FRIDAY BOX

DAZZLE 105, FLAME 103

ROANOKE (23-20) Grundy 8-16 3-4 23, Doliboa 2-9 2-2 6, Matthews 5-10 7-8 18, Victor 4-9 9-12 17, Ramos 8-11 6-8 22, Owens 7-8 2-5 16, Moore 0-2 1-2 1, Sally 1-3 0-0 2, Totals 35-68 30-41 105

FLORIDA (21-20) Stokes 6-15 2-4 14, Wright 8-17 7-8 26, Nichols 7-16 4-4 18, Erwin 2-3 0-0 4, Leach 8-12 0-0 16, Rawlings 3-6 2-2 10, Moore 3-8 1-1 7, McNeil 3-3 0-0 6, Sor¬rentine 1-2 0-0 2, Brown 0-1 0-0 0, Totals 41-83 16-19 103

Roanoke - 25 - 29 - 22 - 29 —105

Florida - 23 - 30 - 29 - 21 —103

3-point goals – Florida 5-11 (Nichols 0-1, Wright 3-5, Rawlings 2-5), Roanoke 5-13 (Matthews 1-1, Grundy 4-7, Doliboa 0-4, Sally 0-1).

Total Fouls – Florida 33, Roanoke 17. Fouled out – Erwin.

Technicals – Ramos, McNeil. Rebounds – Florida 33 (Leach 10), Roanoke 37 (Ramos 10).

Assists – Florida 31 (Stokes 17), Roa¬noke 24 (Grundy 9). A –1,459.

© 2006 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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