Fort Worth Flyers 27, Austin Toros 24 (end of the first quarter)

Austin’s entry to the D-League have made some major improvements to the in-game presentation since the last time I paid to attend a pro hoops contest at the Convention Center. For one thing, the scoreboard hasn’t malfunctioned yet. Then again, there are still a few minutes left in the first quarter.

There’s also no sign of any US Army recruiting or induction ceremonies taking place, which is very encouraging. On the other hand, the University Of Phoenix has set up shop in the lobby, so, y’know, pick your poison.

KVET’s broadcast of the game konked out when the opening lineups were being introduced, which is fair enough seeing as the company dude on the microphone claimed this game was close to a sellout. While the attendence is more than respectable for Thanksgiving Weekend, there are at least 750 empty chairs in the 3000 capacity room.

$10 for the cheap seats seems a fair enough price (especially when you can easily move wherever you want, save for courtside) but I’m not sure what’s up with the $2.50 service charge being tacked onto walk-up sales. I realize they have to spring for Brad Buckman’s meal money, but c’mon.

I’m also happy to report Toros coach Dennis Johnson, 52, doesn’t look a day over 60.

F Scott Merritt (above), a former teammate of D-Wade’s at Marquette, has 10 points for Austin. After hitting an early 3, drug test casualty Brad Buckman took a seat with two fouls.

There’s a guy a few rows in front of me who is quickly filling a memory card with a few too many shots of the Toros’ dance team. Either he’s related to one of ’em or is working on a very interesting web site. Then again, given the state of the economy, I wouldn’t bet against a combination of the two.

(UPDATE : Flyers 32, Toros 31, 6:14 remaining, 2nd quarter. Much as I’d like to claim Buckman’s been whistled two more times for breathing, on each occasion he’s been rung up for pretty blatant loose ball fouls. I don’t know what kind of crazy rules you learned during your 36 hours in Greece, Brad, but they play a different kind of ball in the NBDL. I’m not sure what kind, mind you, but perhaps we’ll both learn simultaneously)

(UPDATE DOS : Flyers 57, Toros 53, 7:35 remaining, 3rd quarter. Fort Worth’s Ryan Hollins has blocked 4 shots and altered at least as many — he’s not super smooth with the ball in his hands, but he’s causing all sorts of problems for Austin in the paint. Anthony Fuqua, begining his 2nd tour of duty with the Toros, has had a couple of highlight-reel worthy dunks, but accomplished little to speak of on defense. Then again, he’s always got the directorial credit for “Training Day”, and that’s more than the rest of us can claim.

On the matter of celluloid history, Toros G Brock Gillespie, above, formerly of Rice and the Listado De Jugadores respectively, supposedly had a bit part in “Glory Road”. Not, presumably as one of the West Texas starting 5.

Biggest cheer of the night : when the score “USC 21, Notre Dame 3” was announced. Fuckin’ football town.

I’ve been trying to follow the Bulls/Knicks game via’s in & out video feed, with limited success. Unless you’re impressed by Stevie Franchise and Jamal Crawford’s accuracy from the foul line, there’s not much for a NY fan to be happy about. There’s nothing like a visit to MSG to make Luol Deng look all studly. A 14-6 run by the Knicks late in the 4th quarter narrowed Chicago’s lead to 7 points with 2:12 remaining, just in time for Eddy Curry to shoot an airball from the charity stripe. Trailing 100-93 with about a minute left, the Knicks’ David Lee was called for charging Andres Nocioni while driving to the hoop. Lee tried arguing that Nocioni is unsuccessfully rocking the Martin Donovan look, but nobody wants to hear it).

(UPDATE X 3 : Bulls 106, Knicks 95. Zero points, zero shots for Stephon Marbury in about 19 minutes of play. Even worse, the brooding, towel-over-the-head thing was done to death by Taz and Sabu back in the day, and unless Steph’s getting career advice from Bill Alfonso, there’s really no excuse.)

(UPDATE FO’ YOU : I spoke too soon regarding the Austin Convention Center scoreboard. With the Flyers up, 92-84, the board read 112-84. Perhaps someone is really eager to see the end of that Notre Dame/USC game.)