Smailagic impresses as Santa Cruz Warriors hold on to win without Lin

Peninsula Premier Admin

Facing an uncertain future with the Warriors, Alen Smailagic made an emphatic case for himself during his impressive G League season debut in the Orlando, Fla. bubble Wednesday.

Smailagic, playing six weeks after minor right knee surgery, scored 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting in the Santa Cruz Warriors’ 111-108 overtime win over the Canton Charge.

The SeaDubs, who played without Jeremy Lin (back soreness), needed the boost from Smailagic and Nico Mannion (20 points) to hold off the Cavaliers’ G League affiliate for their second win in five games.

Jordan Poole, who came into the game leading all G League scorers at 24.8 points per game, added 16 points.

The Charge erased a 24-point deficit and closed within 99-98 in the final minute before Poole seemed to close the win out with a 3-point play with 19.2 seconds left. However, Poole then committed a foul on Sheldon Mac’s 3-pointer with 4.6 seconds left. Mac’s subsequent free throw tied the game at 104-all.

The SeaDubs won the game on Kaleb Wesson’s 3-point play with 2.1 seconds left in overtime — he hit a layup and a free throw to prevent what would have been a crushing Santa Cruz loss.

Smailagic was on a minutes limit Wednesday — he played 17 minutes in mostly four-minute stints and didn’t play in overtime. While on the floor, the soaring Serbian had a pair of his patented flying dunks, and, perhaps even more impressively, showed the ability at times to defend down low, which has been an issue for him.

Still, the 20-year-old Smailagic’s guaranteed contract with the Warriors may not guarantee he remains on their roster the entire season. Golden State will eventually need to open up a roster spot for Juan Toscano-Anderson, who is limited to 45 NBA games as a two-way player. The former Castro Valley High star has become a key rotation player and someone who’ll be needed during a playoff push.

Until then, it’s up to Smailagic to prove he belongs back in the NBA. The 6-foot-9 Smailagic played 14 games with Golden State last year, averaging 4.2 points and 1.9 rebounds and shooting 51 percent from the field.

Smailagic gets his next audition Thursday at noon when Santa Cruz faces the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the minor league team of the Indiana Pacers.

Ex-Warriors help rout Ignite

The G League Ignite from Walnut Creek suffered their first loss in a big way while being blown out by 40 points by the Pelicans affiliate. Former Warriors Jordan Bell (13 points, five rebounds, three assists) and Omari Spellman (10 rebounds, eight points) aided the Erie Bayhawks’ 127-87 win.

The Ignite (4-1), who were paced by top prospect Jonathan Kuminga, who had 21 points and 10 rebounds, are back in action Thursday at 4 p.m. against the Westchester Knicks.

Contributed by local news sources

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