D-Fenders Bested By Jam

EL SEGUNDO, CA – The Los Angeles D-Fenders were bested by the Bakersfield Jam at home, losing 107-101 at Toyota Sports Center on Wednesday night.

Elijah Millsap (25 points, 9 rebounds, 3 steals) led the team in scoring for the fourth time this season, Ronald Dupree (23 points, 6 rebounds) fell one point shy of equaling his season-high, and Gary Flowers (22 points, 2 steals, 2 blocks) scored 20-plus points for the fifth time this year for the D-Fenders (7-14). Despite a tough first half, Courtney Fortson finished with an 18-point, 12-assist double-double (three double-doubles in 2012-13), and Zach Andrews tallied 11 rebounds to go with five points for the D-Fenders. The loss drops the team to 2-8 overall in January.

Bakersfield (16-7) was guided by Damion James (25 points [10-19 FG], 9 rebounds), Jerel McNeal (20 points), James Nunnally (16 points) and Phoenix Suns assignee Diante Garrett (14 points, 7 assists). With the win, the Jam improved to 4-0 against the D-Fenders this season and now lead the all-time series with 22 victories and 19 losses.

The D-Fenders will travel to Tulsa to face the 66ers (NBA Affiliate: Oklahoma City) in a back-to-back set of games on January 25th and 26th. Both games are slated for 5 pm PT.


GAME RECAP

TURNING POINT

Despite giving up 11 offensive rebounds to Bakersfield in the first quarter, the D-Fenders only trailed by six points – 30-24 – after one. L.A. trimmed the lead in half at the beginning of the second at 32-29, but the Jam rattled off 12 straight points in four-plus minutes. The D-Fenders would crawl their way back, cutting the deficit to six points on three separate occasions, but never any closer.

PLAYER OF THE GAME

Damion James. Even though the former first-round pick out of Texas fouled out, he tied for a game-high 25 points, to go along with nine rebounds. He played inside and outside, showing his touch around the basket, while also stretching the floor and hitting three 3-pointers on the night.

UNSUNG HERO

James Nunnally. In just 19 minutes off the bench, the 6-foot-7 forward recorded 16 points, four rebounds and three assists. The UCSB product also drained three 3-pointers, including one right before the end of the third quarter that pushed Bakersfield’s lead back to nine points after L.A. had closed within six.

KEY STAT OF THE GAME

Bakersfield drilled 12 3-pointers on the night, including three different players with three triples apiece. By contrast, L.A. was just 2 for 14, their first 3-pointer coming midway through the third quarter. “I thought we had decent looks,” D-Fenders coach Reggie Theus said. “But I always tell our guys: ‘Every open shot is not a good shot.’ There’s an old saying: ‘Pass up a good shot to get a great shot.’ It’s something we’re still working on. It’s an ongoing battle.”

The Jam also grabbed 18 offensive rebounds towards 23 second-chance points, with forward Adam Koch (six) and center Brian Butch (five) combining for 11 offensive boards. Postgame, forward Gary Flowers noted the discrepancy in that category. “That’s tough to deal with,” he said. “It’s not the X’s and O’s. It’s determination and will. They outhustled us to those 50-50 balls and that makes the game most of the time.”

PLAY OF THE NIGHT

D-Fenders center Anthony Stover did not record a point or a single rebound, but he did have three blocks on the night, including this rejection of Bakersfield guard Diante Garrett’s lay-up attempt.

WHERE THEY STAND

The D-Fenders fell to 2-8 in their last 10 games, losing 107-101 to Bakersfield. It was L.A.’s fourth loss to the Jam this season, their record now at 7-14. The D-Fenders hit the road for back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday against the Tulsa 66ers (Oklahoma City D-League affiliate). NBA assignees’ Jeremy Lamb and Daniel Orton, as well as No. 8 overall D-League prospect Rasual Butler, lead the 66ers (11-11), winners of their last two contests.

Game Recap by Trevor Wong