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Press ReleaseOREM -- Billy Thomas scored 27 points and Sonny Weems, on assignment from the Denver Nuggets, finished with 28 points off the bench as the Colorado 14ers withstood a late Utah Flash run that forced overtime to take Game 1 of the 2009 NBA D-League Finals, 136-131, at the McKay Events Center in Orem, Utah.
Behind a balanced attack, the 14ers led by as many as 25 points in the first half before the Flash surged back on their home floor and outscored the visitors 61-44 in the final two periods to force overtime. However, the 14ers attack proved too much in the overtime period, as veteran Billy Thomas grabbed two steals down the stretch to seal the win.
"Utah is a very good team and they are going to come out and make runs, but that's what the game is about and expect it," said Thomas, who hit on 4-of-7 three-pointers. "That is where our veteran leadership comes in. Guys like me, Josh (Davis), Eddie (Gill), and we have some great young players as well."
In the first NBA D-League Finals game in Orem, 14ers veteran Josh Davis teamed up with Thomas to dominate the first period, combining for 27 points on 8-of-12 shooting, en route to Colorado's 13-point lead (36-23) at the end of one. Thomas scored all 14 of his points in the first nine minutes.
The 14ers' offensive domination continued in the second period. They opened the period on an 11-0 run before Flash forward and Utah Jazz assignee Morris Almond stepped up and scored 14 of his 16 first half points in the quarter. Despite only out-scoring the Flash by four, 42-38, in the period, the 14ers extended their lead to as many as 25 before taking a 17-point lead, 78-61, at the half.
Behind an energized crowd, the Flash went to work in the third quarter and outscored the 14ers, 33-23, to head into the final period down just seven points. Ronald Dupree's 12 points, on 5-of-7 shooting from the field, led the way for the hometown squad.
The Flash made a furious comeback in the fourth, chipping away at Colorado's double-digit lead to come within four, 107-103, after Gavin Grant connected on a three-point play with 8:42 remaining. Over the next seven minutes, the teams traded baskets before the 14ers took the lead, 122-121, with 1:11 to play on a Dupree steal and fast-break follow-up dunk. But with 22 seconds left, Colorado's Eddie Gill drove the lane, drew a foul, and connected on one-of-two to even the score at 122. Flash point guard Kevin Kruger then pulled up for a long three as time expired.
In overtime, with the teams battling back and forth, the Flash went up by three, 126-123, with 3:39 to play. But the inside-outside game of the 14ers claimed an insurmountable lead of 136-131 with 6.6 seconds to play after Dominique Coleman knocked down two free throws.
DuPree led all scorers with 37 points, while Giddens finished with the game's only double-double with 21 points and 17 rebounds.
The teams travel to Broomfield, Colorado for Game 2 on Friday, April 24. Tip off is set for 9:00 p.m. ET.
(Courtesy Utah Flash)