Checking In on The D-Fenders
December was quite a month for the Los Angeles D-Fenders, who began the holiday season by reeling off four straight victories in impressive fashion … only to have six of their best players called up to NBA teams for training camp.
The only starter to return was Brandon Costner, who showed NBA teams what they were missing by earning Player of the Week honors for games played Dec. 5-11; he currently ranks second in the league in scoring (25.7 PPG) and has scored 30-plus points six times this season.
As for much of the rest of coach Eric Musselman's roster?
Elijah Millsap and Zach Andrews stayed at Toyota Sports Center with the Lakers; Brian Hamilton went to Detroit; Terrence Roberts went to Oklahoma City; Courtney Fortson headed to Marina del Rey to join the Clippers; and Jamaal Tinsley went to Utah. Tinsley, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 D-League draft, ended up making the Jazz roster. Furthermore, Musselman's right hand man, associate head coach Clay Moser, was hired by the Lakers to serve as the team's advanced scout.
More transactions were soon to come … see if you can follow along:
- 12/9: Acquired Gerard Anderson, Larry Cunningham, Al Nolen and James Wright.
- 12/15: Acquired Orien Greene and reacquired Terrence Roberts from Oklahoma City's training camp; waived Anthony Johnson and Al Nolen. PRESS RELEASE
- 12/17: Andrew Goudelock and Malcolm Thomas assigned from the Lakers.
- 12/18: Andrew Goudelock and Malcolm Thomas recalled by the Lakers.
- 12/19: Waived James Wright.
- 12/23: Reacquired Brian Hamilton from the Detroit Piston's training camp.
Still with us? There's more.
- 12/27: Reacquired Elijah Millsap (G), Zach Andrews (F) and Courtney Fortson (G) from NBA training camps.
- 12/28: Waived Brian Hamilton (G) and Terrence Roberts (F) due to injury (D-Fenders retain their rights).
- 12/28: Acquired Gerald Green and Malcolm Thomas (both members of the Lakers' training camp roster) and waived Brian Hamilton and Terrence Roberts due to injury.
- 12/28: Acquired Mardy Collins and an 8th round 2012 draft pick from the Iowa Energy in exchange for the D-Fenders 2012 3rd round draft pick as well as Tulsa’s original 2012 3rd round draft pick (acquired in Elijah Millsap trade).
With GM Glenn Carraro and team president/CEO Joey Buss pulling the strings on the ever-changing roster, Musselman certainly had his hands full putting a cohesive line up on the floor, but he was able to pull an 8-4 record out of the Month of Change, good enough to settle his D-Fenders into second place in the West at 10-6, tied with Rio Grande Valley and a game back of 9-3 Austin.
Since getting many of his better players back from training camps on Dec. 27, Musselman has led L.A. to consecutive victories over Erie and Fort Wayne, with Wednesday's contest against Bakersfield and a weekend back-to-back with Reno on the docket.
Before we get there, here are a few other nuggets from the season:
- The four-game win streak to open December was fourth-longest such streak in franchise history; the 2007-08 D-Fenders went on three six-game streaks of victory.
- Brandon Costner put up 42 points on Dec. 10 against Idaho, which tied the third most points scored in a game in D-Fenders' history (Sean Banks, 2/9/08 vs. IDA).
- Eniel Polynice dropped the first triple-double in team history with 23 points (11-19 FG), 10 rebounds and 11 assists in a 104-92 win 12/12 against Texas.
- Orien Greene has played very well since signing with L.A. at three different positions, averaging 13.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists, with a debut of 20 points, seven boards and five dimes on 12/16 at Bakersfield.
- Lakers second round pick Andrew Goudelock scored 24 points with seven assists and four rebounds in his lone game for the D-Fenders.
- After finishing with three steals on 12/30 at Fort Wayne, Courtney Fortson ranks third in the league in steals with 2.3 per game, and has ably stepped into the point guard void left by Jamaal Tinsley, most notably in a 30-point, seven-board, six-assist and three-steal effort against Fort Wayne on 12/30.
- Elijah Millsap has been outstanding for L.A., averaging 23.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 3.3 steals. A highlight came against Erie on 12/29, when he hit 15-of-17 free throws as a result of his attacking the bucket, a single-game high for most free throws made in the D-League this season.
- Terrence Roberts notched two double-doubles in two games, finishing with 20 points and 12 rebounds on 12/21 at Texas and 19 points (8-14 FG) and 16 rebounds two days later against Texas.