EDINBURG — Chris Clemons, Michael Frazier and Isaiah Hartenstein combined for 49 second-half points, reminding many of last year’s championship run, and the Vipers broke a three-game losing streak to defeat the Texas Legends, 132-124 Friday at Bert Ogden Arena.
Hartenstein and Clemons are assigned players by the parent Houston Rockets, while Frazier is a two-way player for the Houston Rockets.
Clemons finished with a team-high 27 points, followed by Frazier with 26 and Hartenstein’s double-double with 25 points and 16 rebounds.
The Vipers trailed 62-53 at the half and it looked like the same version of the Vipers that fans have seen most of the season. They shot just 35 percent from the floor (17 of 49) and 22% from 3-point land (5 of 23). Hartenstein and Frazier combined for a dismal 5 for 20 performance (25%) from the floor in the first half. Clemons, however, kept the Vipers within striking distance, converting five of half shots and finished with 16 in the first half.
This was the first game for both teams since the All Star break. The last game the Vipers played in the league was Feb. 1, a 128-113 loss to South Bay, which had lost 11 in a row to that point.
The win improved the Vipers to 12-23, the third worse record in the league. Texas fell to 19-18. The game was sweet revenge for RGV, which has lost to Texas twice this season, including by 27, 125-98 in a sloppy performance Jan. 18.
The third quarter opened with the Legends on an 8-0 run to push the lead to 17, 70-53. That’s when something seemed to click between Frazier and Hartenstein and they led a 21-6 counterattack to pull the Vipers within two.
During that offensive awakening, Hartenstein scored 12 points, Frazier had 6 and Isaiah Taylor added 3. That’s when Brandon Sampson became part of the show, lighting it up for eight of the Vipers next 11 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, and the Vipers held an 86-85 advantage after three.
The Legends opened the third with a 3-pointer to go up by two but RGV went on another run, this one 16-2, to take the lead for good at 97-88. Frazier and Clemons each buried a three during that run but the crowd erupted when Frank Howard powered his way down the lane for a powerful dunk and was fouled in the process. He knocked down the free throw and suddenly the Vipers looked more like last year’s squad than what had been taking the floor most of this season.
Sampson, also a part of the Vipers third NBA G League championship, also came to life in the second half scoring 15 of his 20 points. He was 5 of 7 in the second half from the floor, including 2 for 3 from 3-point lands.
The 132 points scored by the Vipers were the most since a Jan. 7 tilt at Stockton, when they beat the Kings, 132-114. The Vipers also improved to 4-11 at home, following losing all three games at home before the break. They shot 51% in the second half to finish at 42.6%. They only converted 34.7 percent of their shot attempts in the first half.
RGV was also 26 of 37 (70.3%) from the free-throw line, attacking the lane and Texas Legends’ big man Moses Brown, who fouled out in the third quarter. Brown, a 7-foot-1, 245-pound intimidating presence, scored 12 points, pulled down 12 rebounds, blocked one shot and affected several other attempts in just 13 minutes, 29 seconds of play, limited by getting in foul trouble early – he had five in the first half.
RGV returns to action at 7:30 p.m. today at home against Memphis. The Vipers are 0-2 against the Hustle this season.