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Once struggling, Tulsa 66ers are turning things around over last seven games

The Tulsa 66ers are 5-2 over their last seven games
The Tulsa 66ers are 5-2 over their last seven games
Courtesy of Tulsa 66ers

When the Tulsa 66ers started the season with a 1-11 mark, people around the D-League wondered what it would take for the 66ers to turn things around … and if it was possible. As the calendar churns toward late January, we are starting to get the answer.

Using a sudden domination in rebounding and big performances from Mario Little and Rodney Bartholomew, Tulsa is starting to climb out of the hole it dug for itself at the start of the season, going 5-2 in its last seven games and winning its last four true road games, including a pair this weekend in California. Let’s take a look at those games and how the 66ers have righted the ship.

On Friday, Tulsa erased a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit to come back and defeat the Bakersfield Jam, 114-110, behind 20 fourth-quarter points from Little, who finished with a career-high 32 points on 11-for-19 shooting and added nine assists.

Bartholomew scored a career-best 32 points of his own on 13-for-18 shooting alongside 17 rebounds – also a career high. Andre Roberson, on assignment from the Oklahoma City Thunder, added 14 points, eight rebounds, three blocks and a pair of steals.

The 66ers entered the fourth quarter trailing the Jam 87-74 before going on a 26-4 run to take a nine-point lead with five minutes remaining. During the seven-minute stretch, the 66ers shot 10-for-12 from the field (including seven made buckets in a row) and held the Jam to 1-of-7 shooting. Tulsa forced five Bakersfield turnovers in the first three minutes of the quarter and nine total in the frame.

One night later, Roberson scored 21 points and added 13 rebounds, four steals and two blocks as the 66ers defeated the Los Angeles D-Fenders, 128-112, at the Toyota Sports Center.

Three 66ers posted double-doubles with Bartholomew leading the game with 32 points and 15 rebounds. Bartholomew, who entered the weekend averaging 9.2 points and 7.2 rebounds, totaled 64 points and 32 rebounds on 25-for-37 shooting (67.6 percent) in the two games in California.

Bartholomew’s performance marks the first time in 66ers history that a player has posted 30 or more points and 15 or more rebounds in back-to-back games.

Ben Uzoh collected 16 points, 12 rebounds and six assists while Reggie Williams added 16 points and six boards.

As a team, the 66ers outrebounded Los Angeles 58-39 in Tulsa’s best rebounding night of the season. The mark fell two boards shy of the franchise record (60 rebounds vs. Fort Wayne in 2007). Tulsa has pulled down as many or more rebounds than their opponent in 11 of their past 12 games.

Tulsa’s offense shot a season-best 52.6 percent from the field, setting season highs for points scored (128), made field goals (50), points scored in a quarter (41 in the first), points scored in a half (78 in the first), and points scored in the paint (70). Tulsa’s 128 points marked the 66ers’ fourth-highest scoring performance in franchise history.

In the two California games, the 66ers combined to score 241 points on 51.9 percent shooting with 104 rebounds and 53 assists.

Tulsa returns home this weekend (January 24-25) for games against the top two games in the West Division with Santa Cruz (12-9) paying a visit on Friday and Idaho (13-8) coming in on Saturday.