SANTA CRUZ, CA – The South Bay Lakers kicked off the 2017-18 season in thrilling fashion with a 138-135 overtime win over Santa Cruz. The Lakers (1-0) were down by as many as 19 points in the second half, but stormed back to win the game behind strong performances from reigning league MVP Vander Blue, Lakers assignment player Thomas Bryant and former Warrior Scott Machado.
In the two-minute overtime period, it was Machado who hit the first bucket against his former team to give the Lakers the lead for good. The Warriors (1-1) appeared to tie the game after a goaltending call on the next possession, but a challenge from South Bay Head Coach Coby Karl gave the officials time to determine that Bryant’s block was good and the Lakers never looked back. South Bay hit their free throws down the stretch and played good defense to secure the victory in their opening game.
A strong performance from the charity stripe (31-37) and a balanced scoring attack paced South Bay as seven Lakers scored in double figures, led by Blue’s 25. The Warriors were led by guard Quinn Cook, who scored 35, and Golden State assignee Damian Jones, who pitched in 18 points and 4 blocks before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
South Bay got off to a slow start and trailed the Warriors 38-29 after one. Bryant led the way in the first with nine points, but Santa Cruz shot well from deep, 6-9, and Cook pitched in eight points to guide the Warriors to the early lead. The Warriors continued their strong play through the first half as Jones had 16 points and Michael Gbinije hit three triples off the bench to push Santa Cruz to a 13-point halftime lead.
The third quarter was much of the same for the two squads as Santa Cruz maintained a 104-91 lead through three, but it was the Lakers who fought back in the fourth to send the game to overtime. South Bay outscored their opponent 37-24 in the final frame to come back and tie the game. After a long jumper from Cook to give the Warriors the lead, Travis Wear scored the tying bucket from just inside the arc with one second remaining to send the game to overtime.
Along with his 35 points, Cook added 7 rebounds and 6 assists and Georges Niang had a double-double (24 points, 10 rebounds) to lead the way for Santa Cruz. In total, six Warriors scored in double figures, including Jones’s 18, 16 off the bench for Antonius Cleveland, 15 for Alex Hamilton and 11 for Michael Gbinije.
For the Lakers, Blue (25 points, 7 assists), Bryant (22 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks) and Machado (20 points, 6 assists) led the scoring barrage, while Wear added a double-double (17 points, 10 rebounds) and Alex Caruso tallied 19 points of his own. Also in double figures for South Bay were V.J. Beachem and Andre Ingram who scored 13 points apiece.
These two teams will face off again when South Bay returns home for the inaugural regular season game in the UCLA Health Training Center on Wednesday, November 8 at 7:00 against the Warriors.
The NBA G League’s South Bay Lakers, the first franchise in G League history to be owned by an NBA team (Los Angeles Lakers), will return for its 11th season of competition in 2017-18. The Lakers franchise has established itself as a top producer of NBA-ready talent, totaling 26 NBA Call-Ups and developing 19 Lakers assignment players since the inaugural 2006-07 season. Last season, the Lakers returned to the playoffs for the third time in the last four years and produced the league MVP in guard Vander Blue. The Lakers have claimed three division titles and have twice competed in the NBA G League Finals, most recently in 2015-16.