9:53 p.m. -- JamesOn Curry has got his legs back. And his game, too.
Curry, a rookie out of Oklahoma State, has split his season between the Chicago Bulls and Iowa Energy.
To be more precise, he's split his time between sitting on the Chicago bench and playing for Iowa. During his last three-week stint in Chicago, Curry failed to get into a single game.
So when Curry was assigned to Iowa on Jan. 7, his birthday — "Happy birthday," he quipped Monday night — he had to get back into game shape.
"I ran and got conditioning, tried to stay in as good a shape as I could," Curry said. "But when you practice and work out, it’s way different than playing in the game."
In his first game for Iowa on Jan. 11, Curry was 3-of-17 from the field. He scored six points in 30 minutes.
In his second game on Jan. 13, Curry was 8-of-15 from the field. He scored 17 points in 44 minutes.
On Monday, he played his third game in four nights for the Energy. It was his best game, so far. Curry had 34 points on 15-of-21 shooting. He added five rebounds and seven assists before fouling out in the final minute of the Energy's 125-112 loss to Dakota.
"I felt a lot better, going hard, knowing when to push, when not to push. It felt great," said Curry, who has been assigned twice to the Energy.
In 11 games with Iowa, Curry is averaging 20.3 points. He's hoping to use this opportunity — and playing time — to impress someone in the NBA, be it Chicago or another team.
"In the NBA, every day you're auditioning. Whether you have a 10-year contract, you're still auditioning for other teams," Curry said. "You got a camera on you, you've got to play our hardest and prove you're a good player."
9:43 p.m. -- I got so caught up in JamesOn Curry's performance (34 points) and somehow missed what Maurice Baker was doing.
Baker scored 41 points, dished six assists and had six steals in Dakota's 125-112 victory. Baker made 17-of-17 free-throw attempts.
The difference in the game: Dakota made 40-of-42 (95.2 percent) from the line. Iowa made 14-of-29 (48.3 percent).
9:29 p.m. -- JamesOn Curry fouled out with 54 seconds left in the game and his Ethanol team down 117-112. He finished the game with 34 points.
The Dakota Wizards topped the Iowa Energy — that is Iowa's real nickname, but Ethanol is so much more fun — 125-112.
Back in a little while with a few final posts of the day, including a longer entry on Curry.
9:21 p.m. -- The crowd is not overwhelming by any stretch. But the Stampede sound pleased with the turnout, about 400 by my rough estimation, considering the home team did not play today.
Many of those in attendance are Stampede season-ticket holders.
9:19 p.m. -- When Curry isn't scoring, he's setting up his teammates for open shots.
Unfortunately for Curry, the Ethanol (Iowa) is losing to the Wizards of Dakota.
9:14 p.m. -- If James Lang was the first member of the Brian Murphy "All-Stars," then JamesOn Curry is the second guy to make the team.
For more on Lang, keep reading down in the blog.
For more on Curry, who is dominating for the Ethanol (Iowa) against Dakota, check back later. I'm going to talk to the former Oklahoma State standout after the game.
Still haven't seen a Dakota defender keep Curry from getting to the basket.
9:10 p.m. -- Does "Cotton-Eyed Joe" ever get old? The Stampede apparently don't think it does, trotting out the arena standby late in the fourth quarter of the final game.
8:41 p.m. -- The players down here on assignment from the NBA have really stood out on Day 1.
First, Utah's Kyrylo Fesenko, on assignment from the Utah Jazz, scored 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting and pulled down seven rebounds in the Flash's 102-80 victory.
Fesenko has been sent to the D-League three times this season, the maximum number of times a player can be assigned.
Iowa's JamesOn Curry, assigned by the Chicago Bulls, scored 12 points in the first half against Dakota. Curry played all 24 minutes in the half and grabbed five rebounds and had three assists. Curry also had four turnovers, a number he no doubt would like to cut down on.
On Day 2, we'll get a look at four more NBA-assigned players: Idaho's Mouhamed Sene (Seattle) and Josh McRoberts (Portland), Albuquerque's Alando Tucker (Phoenix) and Rio Grande Valley's Cedric Simmons (Cleveland).
Edit: Cleveland recalled Simmons late last week and sent Shannon Brown to the Rio Grande Valley. So instead of Simmons, we'll be seeing Brown on Day 2.
8:28 p.m. -- Idaho Stampede coach Bryan Gates is the event's unofficial ambassador. Every time you turn around, Gates is chatting with another official or reporter or NBA scout.
The Stampede have worked hard to make sure this is a first-class event, and Gates is certainly doing his part to be a gracious host.
8:06 p.m. -- Game No. 3 and finally — finally!!! — we have a team with a plural nickname. The Dakota Wizards are the winners. Of course, the Wizards came out for warm-ups in Barney the purple dinosaur-esque attire.
As for their opponent, the Iowa Energy — go ethanol? — pull off their Phoenix Suns uniforms quite well. Of course, the Ethanol is affiliated with ... the Bulls and the Heat.
6:42 p.m. -- Yuta's Boys take down the Fighting Teal 99-94. Good comeback. Anaheim trailed 78-67 at the end of the third quarter.
6:34 p.m. -- Great game between the Fighting Teal (Sioux Falls) and Yuta's Boys (Anaheim). Point guard Yuta Tabuse — all 5-foot-9 of him — has hit a couple huge shots for Anaheim.
For more on Tabuse, check out Tuesday's editions of the Idaho Statesman.
6:31 p.m. -- Good stuff from the "Scouting the Showcase" blog on the D-League site.
Check it out here.
6:25 p.m. -- Got a hint at the pass list for the Showcase. Doesn't look like Larry Bird or Kevin McHale or some of the other big-name GMs will be here. But there will be NBA GMs — not giving out names until I see them — plenty of assistant general managers.
Already saw Bernie Bickerstaff, former coach and general manager and now the executive vice president of the Charlotte Bobcats, in attendance.
6:17 p.m. -- Anaheim is rallying against the Fighting Teal from Sioux Falls. Trailing by 11 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Arsenal has cut the deficit to 82-81 with 6:44 left in the game.
I wouldn't call it "playoff intensity," but you can tell the energy level (on the court, at least) has gone up a notch.
Is there anything more annoying than piped in music (noise?) while the game is going on? The NBA does it. The D-League does it. I feel like I'm in a disco club half the time and listening to a Jock Jams CD the rest of the time.
Can't we just enjoy the game and its natural sounds?
5:26 p.m. -- Just spoke with Jesse Smith of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Smith, a graduate of Mackay High, played his college ball at Idaho State.
Smith, a 6-foot-11 center, is averaging 6.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game this season. But he's really coming on lately. Since Dec. 21, Smith is averaging 9.3 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. He has four double-figure scoring games in his last eight contests.
"It started out slow, but right now, I’m getting a lot of playing time. I've been playing really well when I have been in," Smith said. "Things are going really great for me."
Smith is looking forward to playing in front of friends and family. This is the Vipers' first trip to Boise this season. He expects plenty of familiar faces in the stands when Rio Grande takes on the Stampede at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday.
See Tuesday's editions of the Idaho Statesman for more on Smith.
4:41 p.m. -- Two more teams, two more singular nicknames. The Sioux Falls Skyforce and Anaheim Arsenal.
Perhaps we've reached the limit for good nicknames, although the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Mad Ants is a classic.
4:14 p.m. -- Early candidate for worst uniforms in the D-League: Sioux Falls Skyforce. Very teal. Very loud.
Teal seems like such a 1990s color.
4:01 p.m. -- NBA D-League president Dan Reed is writing a blog from the Showcase.
You can reach the NBA D-League blogs, including Reed's, here.
We'll have more with Reed throughout the week, both here and in print editions of the Idaho Statesman.
Utah won the Showcase's initial game 102-80 against Bakersfield. James Lang, see more on him below, led the Flash with 19 points.
3:29 p.m. -- Despite the lopsided score — Utah leads 86-64 with 8:42 left in the fourth quarter — the scouts' tables are filled. The guys continue to log notes about the game action, one reason why the players keep playing hard all game. You never know when a scout is watching you.
Other than the scouts along the concourse level, many other NBA personnel are in the stands, texting on their Blackberrys and chatting it up with others.
That's why Stampede coach Bryan Gates said some trades could go down during the Showcase.
"The D-League coaches and the NBA people will be talking about rosters. I would not be surprised if there are NBA and D-League guys talking about player trades," Gates said.
3:09 p.m. -- Utah center James Lang showing some real ability to score in the low post. I imagine his conditioning is an issue for NBA teams. He played just 8:22 in the first half as he and Kyrylo Fesenko are sharing time at center.
2:11 p.m. -- First player to impress me: Utah center James Lang.
A basketball vagabond, Lang has been a member of four NBA organizations (Hornets, Hawks, Raptors and Wizards), three D-League teams (Asheville, Arkansas and Utah), an ABA team (Portland) and a USBL team (Oklahoma) since being selected out of high school in the 2003 NBA Draft.
Lang, a 6-foot-10, 285-pounder, had six points in the first quarter against Baskersfield.
1:38 p.m. -- Just arrived at Qwest Arena for my four-day, three-night, 14-game stay during the NBA D-League Showcase. I'll be blogging throughout my stay.
The plan is not to leave Qwest Arena and the Grove Hotel until Thursday night. I've got sleeping arrangements, a place to shower and several dining options.
Already weaseled my way into a daily 6 a.m. pick-up basketball game with D-League officials on the Qwest Arena court. At least, I'll be getting some exercise.
The Utah Flash and Bakersfield Jam — love those singular nicknames — are set to begin the Showcase.
Crowd (non-scouts) estimate: 30.
These guys probably haven't played in front of this few people since middle school.