OREM The Utah Flash suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Dakota Wizards in the Flash's home opener of their inaugural season in the NBA Development League on Tuesday.
In a game that was competitive throughout, Utah guard Michael Cuffee drained a 3-pointer with one second left to tie the game at 97 and seemingly send the game into overtime for the 4,584 fans on hand.
But Wizards center Kevin Lyde hit a catch-and-shoot buzzer beater from the baseline to record the defending D-League Champions' first win of the season after dropping their first two. The Flash fell to 1-2 on the year.
"It's a cruel game," Flash coach Brad Jones said. "You've got to be able to cash it out, and we didn't. We had a six-point lead with three minute to go. Next thing you know, we're fighting for our lives, and they made a great play."
After an opening that featured the Jazz Bear and Flash Fox mascots riding out on Harley Davidson motorcycles amidst fireworks and lasers, the teams had a hard time at first giving the fans anything to cheer about.
Nearly three minutes passed by before anyone scored, and that was a free throw on an illegal defense call.
With the score tied at 11 with five minutes left in the first quarter, the Flash went into a drought that lasted until the end of the quarter, falling behind 25-12.
Utah used a 15-4 run at the start of the second quarter to get back into the game. They were led by Cuffee's seven points during the run, including a dunk off a lob pass that fired up the crowd.
The Flash's momentum from the second quarter continued into the third, as they quickly jumped out to a 55-46 lead.
Dakota chipped away at the lead throughout the second half of the quarter, closing to 68-67 at the end of the third.
The play of the game until Lyde's buzzer beater happened with seven minutes to go in the game. Utah center Kyrylo Fesenko blocked a shot all the way down to the other side of the court where forward Brandon Wallace tracked it down and dunked it ahead of the pursuing Wizards.
The teams battled throughout the fourth quarter until Lyde ended the game in dramatic fashion.
Kruger led the Flash with 25 points and six assists, while Cuffee had 24 points on 11-18 shooting. Wallace added 16 points and nine rebounds.
Dontell Jefferson and Carlos Powell had 25 and 23 points, respectively, for Dakota, and Rod Benson had a double-double with 12 points and 18 rebounds.