The Los Angeles D-Fenders improve to 29-11 after getting a clutch win over the Dakota Wizards Saturday night. L.A. pulled out a 99-98 win despite allowing Wizards forward Edwin Ubiles and Marcus Dove to combine for 41 points.
Returning home to a sold-out crowd at the Toyota Sports Center, the D-Fenders picked up where they left off, getting their 12th win in 13 games. Despite having point guards Mardy Collins and Courtney Fortson out due to injury, L.A. got a big boost from guard Darius Morris. Morris is the newest addition to the team after being assigned to the D-League earlier this week by the Los Angeles Lakers.
Being only his first game with the D-Fenders, Morris made his mark quickly, ending with a game-high 21 points and four assists. The team also received strong performances from Jamario Moon, Elijah Millsap and Orien Green.
Moon had impressive stats, finishing with 18 points, 13 rebounds, five assist and three steals. Millsap had another strong performance with 18 points and six assists. Green added to that with nine points, five assists and two steals. A team effort was much needed in a game whose outcome came down to the last eight seconds.
Both teams battled it out in a game that featured 15 ties and 13 lead changes. With only 51 seconds left in the game, the D-Fenders took a short 99-96 lead, but the Wizards wouldn’t go away – cutting the lead down to one. However, the D-Fenders held on to win after the Wizards missed two shots in their final possession.
Regardless of the D-Fenders shooting 52 percent from the field, and at one point having an 11-point lead, the Wizards kept fighting. Ubiles contributed 22 points and five assists, while Marcus Dove scored 19 points. After scoring 31 points against the D-Fenders in their last meeting, the D-Fenders defense kept Maurice Baker to only 12 points.
This is the third and final time the D-Fenders will play the Dakota Wizards during the regular season. The last time these two teams met L.A. lost the game 98-97. All three games between the two continue to be decided by no more than two points.
A win is a win, but it seems the D-Fenders have to work on their 3-point shooting as well as limiting their turnovers. The D-Fenders were 33 percent from behind the arc, and had 17 turnovers that resulted in 13 points for Dakota. On the other side, the D-Fenders proved dominant in other areas scoring 44 points in the paint, adding 33 more off fast breaks and second chance points.
The D-Fenders are off to a good start as they continue their three game home stretch. The D-Fenders will return to court Monday against the Idaho Stampede. This is the first game of a back-to-back series with the Stampede, who currently stand at 16-24. The D-Fenders look to continue their winning streak, while the Stampede will look to bounce back from three consecutive losses.