Game Recap - D-Fenders vs. Mad Ants - January 19, 2013

TURNING POINT

Trailing 90-87 early in the fourth quarter, the D-Fenders proceeded to go on a 12-2 run, capped by Courtney Fortson’s four-point play that gave them a 99-92 lead with 6:41 left. Fort Wayne would never get closer than five points the rest of the way, as L.A. avenged Wednesday’s loss to the Mad Ants.

PLAYER OF THE GAME

Elijah Millsap. The 6-foot-6 guard finished with a season-high 32 points – to go along with six rebounds and three steals – on 10-of-19 from the floor and 12-of-15 from the charity stripe. During the third quarter, when the D-Fenders shaved off 10 points off Fort Wayne’s halftime lead, Millsap scored 16 of L.A.’s 33 points as he consistently got to the free-throw line (8 for 9 in the quarter). “He made a couple jumpers and nice moves, but it was after he drove the ball five or six times,” coach Reggie Theus said. “I keep telling him to drive the ball because it makes the jumpers easier – it opens up your game and gives you a flow.”

UNSUNG HEROES

Gary Flowers and Courtney Fortson. Flowers finished with 30 points and six boards, including back-to-back 3-pointers late in the fourth quarter that essentially sealed the win for the D-Fenders. “Flowers has probably been our best consistent shooter over the course of the season,” Theus said. “He made shots when we needed it.”

Fortson recorded a season-high – second most in franchise history – 14 assists, to go along with eight points and four rebounds. “When you look at his last few games, I thought it’s some of his best basketball,” Theus said. “Tonight, the fact that he had 14 assists really helped us. He got everybody involved and then his ability at the end of the game to dominate the ball and find open guys was key.”

KEY STAT OF THE GAME

The D-Fenders limited the Mad Ants to 38.9 shooting during the fourth quarter toward 21 points. In the second half, L.A. held Fort Wayne to a 42.1 percent clip, and outscored the Mad Ants 63-44. Postgame, Theus noted the team’s improved energy and attentiveness on the defensive end of the floor in the final 24 minutes. “We made some adjustments at halftime,” Theus said. “Our pick-and-roll defense left a lot to be desired. I physically showed it to them (at halftime), and in the second half, they didn’t hurt us at all in their pick-and-rolls. The guys were physically engaged and I thought we made strides in the right direction.”

PLAY OF THE NIGHT

Late in the first quarter, Gary Flowers showed on a pick-and-roll, slipped the screen and Courtney Fortson threaded a bounce pass through two Fort Wayne defenders to set up this dunk over Miles Plumlee.

WHERE THEY STAND

The D-Fenders snapped their four-game skid with a 113-106 victory over Fort Wayne. L.A. is back at the Toyota Sports Center on Monday, Jan. 21 to face the Erie Bayhawks (New York Knicks D-League affiliate). It will be the first meeting between the two teams this year.

by Trevor Wong