Expose Provides More Late-Game Heroics; Offense Struggles Against Half-Court Defense

Hornets Venom GT and Wizards District Gaming had arguably the NBA 2K League’s best series of the season so far and a couple of key plays down the stretch in both games tipped the victory in favor of the latter on Friday, May 22.

The teal and black struggled in the opening half of Game 1 with Wizards DG’s half-court defense before breaking through a bit for a 29-27 lead at the break. Both teams were neck and neck the entire second half heading into the final minute, when Wizards DG pulled ahead for a slim 63-60 lead and 20 seconds remaining.

Guard Alex “Expose” Whelan knotted the score with a big three, but guard Jack “JBM” Mascone – the NBA 2K League’s reigning top overall pick – banked in a lefty layup to put Wizards DG back in front. With 2.8 seconds left, Expose took the inbounds pass just inside the left corner, dribbled to the rim and jammed in a one-handed dunk to send the game to overtime.

Wizards DG forward Maurice “ResseDaGod” Delaney kicked off the extra frame by hitting a transition three-pointer before forward Zaeya “Zae” Ishak responded with a reverse layup to get Hornets Venom GT back within one. It would be the last basket the visitors scored in the game though as they couldn’t get stops or shots to fall in route to a 75-69 loss.

Guard Justin “Snubby” Stemerman (27 points) and Expose (23) combined for 50 points in the loss and center Xavier “Type” Vescovi added eight points, 11 rebounds, six assists, three steals and two blocks. JBM (27 points and 14 assists) and center Ryan “Dayfri” Conger (19 points and 14 rebounds) both double-doubled for Wizards DG in the win.

Game 2 played out much like the opener, although Hornets Venom used a big 20-9 third quarter to enter the final six minutes with a 46-40 advantage. Wizards DG continued to apply defensive pressure, eventually inching ahead with a layup at the 1:19 mark. Hornets Venom countered with a turnover and empty possession, falling behind by five just 30 seconds later.

Type dunked in a basket to get back within three and Hornets Venom finally got the defensive stop it needed by forcing a shot-clock violation. Bringing up the inbounds with 13 seconds left, Snubby dribbled to the left arc, found a Wizards DG double team and fired back to Expose at the top of the three-point line. Forward Justin “Just_Awkward” Howell was there to intercept the pass though, sealing a 69-66 win and the series sweep.

Expose had 18 points in the outing and Snubby chipped in 13 points, six assists and three steals. Type double-doubled with 12 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and two steals, while Wizards DG got double-digit scoring performances from JBM (19), ReeseDaGod (13) and Dayfri (10 points, eight rebounds and eight assists).

Hornets Venom GT entered the night shooting 58.2 percent from the field this season and registered a mark of 55.1 percent over the two-game series (54-of-98; 7-of-15 from three). Perhaps the deciding factor, Wizards DG shot 16-of-34 overall from distance (47.1 percent), helping the squad move to 4-1 on the campaign.

Hornets Venom will now look to bounce back with a home game against Knicks Gaming on Tuesday, May 26 starting at 9 PM EST. Watch the action on ESPN2, Twitch.TV/NBA2KLeague, ESPN mobile or YouTube Gaming.

by Sam Perley