D-Fenders - Stampede Recap

TURNING POINT

The D-Fenders had trailed by as many as 15 points in the second quarter and faced a 12-point halftime deficit, and at the 6:17 mark in the third quarter, D-Fenders forward Jamario Moon drilled a 3-pointer from the corner to cut Idaho’s lead to single digits at 66-58. LA would proceed to score the next 11 points to take a 3-point lead, punctuated by an alley-oop dunk from Moon off a lob from Darius Johnson-Odom.

PLAYER OF THE GAME

Gary Flowers. The 6-foot-8 forward finished with a team-high 25 points, to go along with four assists, three rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Afterward, coach Reggie Theus praised his all-around play and inside-outside game. “I thought he played really well,” Theus said. “Gary has played this way since Day 1 of training camp and we depend on him a lot. He didn’t rebound a lot today, but he is such a tough cover. NBA teams are going to take notice of his ability to play big and then stretch the floor.”

UNSUNG HERO

Darius Johnson-Odom. The Marquette product notched 16 points, six rebounds, five assists and five steals. After D-Fenders starting point guard Courtney Fortson was ejected midway through the third quarter, Johnson-Odom took over at the one and coach Theus was pleased with how he led the team on offense.

KEY STAT OF THE GAME

Idaho shot just 27.7 percent from the floor toward 38 points in the second half, after scoring 56 at a 52.3 clip in the first 24 minutes. The D-Fenders erased a 12-point halftime deficit in the third quarter, outscoring Idaho 32-17. Postgame, coach Theus praised his players’ intensity on defense in the second half. “That’s all defensive effort – getting up into your guys and being physical,” he said. “I thought early in the game, they were more physical than us and had a better rhythm. When Courtney Fortson went out, guys picked it up … and everybody really contributed.”

PLAY OF THE NIGHT

D-Fenders guard Elijah Millsap wrestled back a loose ball from Idaho’s Coby Karl off a tipped pass, then threw a bounce pass through the legs of an Idaho defender for a Jamario Moon slam dunk.

WHERE THEY STAND

The D-Fenders (5-4) won their third straight contest, a 98-94 victory over Idaho (1-10), to push their record back over .500. They currently sit in third place in the West Division, behind Bakersfield and Santa Cruz. LA goes on the road to face the Iowa Energy (2-7) for back-to-back contests on Dec. 28th and 29th to close out the calendar year. “I thought it was a good win for us to get above .500,” Johnson-Odom said. “We just gotta keep it rolling. We did a better job in the second half, especially without Courtney (Fortson), and guys did great off the bench. We just need to keep getting better as a team.”