D-Fenders 98, Skyforce 94
EL SEGUNDO, CA – The Los Angeles D-Fenders came back from a 22 point deficit to defeat the Sioux Falls Skyforce, 98-94, Sunday at STAPLES Center.
Sioux Falls (8-12) jumped out of the gates and took a commanding 31-16 lead into the first intermission. They continued their strong play into the second quarter growing their lead to as many as 22 points with 1:54 remaining in the half. Los Angeles ended the half on a 6-0 run, and went into the break trailing 59-43.
“We came out flat and they came out very determined. They got us down 20, but it was a real credit to our guys the way we fought back.” said D-Fenders Head Coach Dan Panaggio. “We toughened up our defense and got some stops ad some fast-break layups and gradually things started working in our favor.”
Los Angeles improved their record to 13-4 on the season and remained in sole possession of first place in the Western Division. The D-Fenders turned things around in the second half on both ends of the court, as they improved their shooting percentage from a dismal 31% to 60%. Defensively they shut down the hot shooting of Sioux Falls, holding them under 30% from the field.
After being outscored 13-0 in first half fast-break points, the D-Fenders stepped up the defensive intensity and created easy baskets, dropping in 12 second half points in transition compared to 3 by Sioux Falls.
Sean Banks scored 20 of his team-high 29 points in the second half. Stephane Lasme came off the bench to record a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
“They stayed aggressive and defensively they picked it up and started making shots,” said Skyforce Head Coach Nate Tibbetts. “That was the biggest difference and we started missing shots.”
Skyforce guard Elton Nesbitt led all scorers with 30 and forward Michael Joiner chipped in with 18 points, 4-6 from behind the arc, and grabbed 8 rebounds in the losing effort.
Los Angeles and Sioux Falls will travel to Boise, Idaho for the 2008 NBA D-League Showcase next week. The D-Fenders will face off with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants on Tuesday, Jan. 15th at 10:00am; the game will be aired live on NBA TV.