LONDON, Ont. — Make it nine straight victories for the London Lightning, who started the season with five losses over their first seven games.
Six players scored in double figures on Wednesday night for the Lightning, as they extended their winning to nine games with a 129-98 win over the visiting Kitchener-Waterloo Titans.
On the contrary, the Titans lost their fourth straight contest, and fell to 2-9 on the season. In their second season as a member of the NBL Canada, they have talented pieces on the roster, but haven’t been able to turn that into wins on the court.
Inside the Budweiser Gardens on Wednesday night, we learned a lot about both teams moving forward in the 2017-18 season. Here are three things we noticed from the Lightning’s 31-point victory over the Titans:
1. Royce White is Playing Like a Two-Time MVP
Last season, in his first year with the Lightning, former NBA first-round draft pick Royce White helped guide the Lightning to their third NBL Canada title in their history.
This season, he is playing like a player who wants to keep the title for another season. Against the Titans, White recorded a team-high 24 points, on 8-of-15 shooting, to go along with nine rebounds and eight assists. He was one of two players on the night (Ryan Anderson) who narrowly missed out on a triple-double.
For the season, White is averaging 23.8 points per contest in 12 games, which ranks him second in the league. Add in his 7.4 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game, and White is arguably the best player in the league on the best team.
White impacts the game on both ends of the floor, and has shown that each night out. While he makes the headlines for his fouls and disqualifications, his statistical production is nothing short of impressive, and he looks well on his way to a second straight MVP award.
2. Russell Byrd is an All-Star (if There Was an All-Star Game)
With the Titans this season, Byrd has started in all 11 games in his second season in the league. While the results haven’t been there for the team as a whole, the play of Byrd has been a bright spot and gives Kitchener-Waterloo to build around.
Admittedly, he has been a streaky shooter over the course of the season, but he had his best game of the season against the Lightning that leads to a lot of optimism. He posted a team-high 24 points, on 9-of-22 shooting from the floor, but was just 3-of-13 from beyond the arc. Byrd added nine rebounds, five assists, and two steals for an all-round solid performance.
He has three 20+ point games to his name this season, and has scored in double-figures on eight occasions. If he can improve his shooting from all areas of the field (32.2% FG, 26.6% 3PT), his production will go to another level and the team may see a few more wins. With that said, he needs others to step up around him in order for the team to see a sustained level of success.
3. Depth Puts the London Lightning Above the Rest
For the Lightning against the Titans, all 10 players who saw action in the game scored at least two points. Yohanny Dalembert, formerly of the James Madison Dukes, pulled down five rebounds in 11 minutes of action. The Lightning get production from everyone across the roster, and that puts them a cut above the rest in the league.
The 2017-18 edition of the Lightning are aiming for their fourth league title, and appear to be well on their way to another Central Division title. London will put their winning streak on the line on Saturday at home against the Moncton Magic.
– T. Bennett