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NBA D-League Power Rankings: December 21, 2011

December 21, 2011: Week Three of the NBA D-League Power Rankings for the 2011-12 campaign sees the L.A. D-Fenders back on top, which may or may not be a good thing as last week's top choice, the Springfield Armor, promptly dropped three games in a row after we pointed out they had lost only one game all season. Rosters are still in flux as NBA teams submit their final rosters on Saturday, Dec. 24, so D-League squads -- and playing rotations -- should settle down after we head into the New Year.


TEAM REC. BREAKDOWN
3rd last week
8-5
Despite Wednesday night's 112-108 loss to the Legends, the D-Fenders do sport the best record in the NBA D-League, and in former North Carolina State standout Brandon Costner, one of the hottest players in the league. Costner scored a game-high 34 points against the Legends, and is averaging over 25 point and six rebounds per game for Los Angeles. Newcomer Orien Greene has made an immediate impact for the D-Fenders, averaging over 18 points, five rebounds and four assists per game. Los Angeles play three more road games over the holiday season before returning home for a big game against fellow Golden State power, the Bakersfield Jam, on Wed, Jan 4, 2012. Yes, that's 2012.
-----2nd last week
6-3
Star guard Osiris Eldridge exploded for 52 points, tying the all-time league record, as the Jam defeated the D-Fenders 117-112 on Dec. 16, but LA bounced right back to beat Bakersfield the next night, 96-68. Eldridge is averaging 18.9 points per game for the Jam, while Mustapha Farrakhan is averaging 15.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Bakersfield plays two straight games at Rio Grande Valley this week, before returning home to host Reno in a pair of contests next week.
4th last week
6-3
The Toros went 2-1 since the last Power Rankings, topping the Texas Legends twice and dropping a decision to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in an all-Texas jaunt. Swingman Terrance Woodbury has played all nine game for the Toros, averaging 14 points and 4.6 rebounds per game, while Solomon Bozeman has stepped up his contributions to the squad, scoring a game-high 21 points and dishing out six assists in the second victory over Texas. Austin plays at Fort Wayne on Friday night before hosting the Springfield Armor in a pair of games Dec. 29-30.
5th last week
7-3
The defending D-League Champions have won four straight games, supplanted the Springfield Armor atop the Eastern Conference standings and correspondingly have moved up the Power Rankings into fourth place. Michael Tveidt poured in 28 points, including four 3-pointers for the Energy in their seventh win of the season -- a 101-97 victory over Reno -- while Ben Strong had a 13-point, 10-rebound double-double. Iowa has two straight games at Maine prior to Christmas before hosting Sioux Falls (Dec 27) and Idaho (Dec 30) prior to the New Year.
6th last week
6-4
Tulsa went 1-1 last week, including an 87-76 win over the Springfield Armor on Saturday night. Rookie standout Xavier Alexander scored a season-high 21 points and Nkem Ojougboh grabbed 10 boards and blocked four shots for the 66ers at the Tulsa Convention Center. Tulsa has a challenging schedule ahead, traveling to Erie for a Friday night game, before heading to Idaho to face the Stampede, before finally settling at home to host the Texas Legends on Dec 30.
1st last week
5-4
No sooner had the Armor taken position in the top slot of the Power Rankings last week than they dropped three straight games. The schedule doesn't get any better for the New Jersey Nets' affiliates, as they have five straight road games, starting at Dakota this week and ending up in Austin, Texas next week, with a stopover at Sioux Falls. Guard Lance Hurdle, out of Miami, continued his superlative play for Springfield, scoring a team-high 24 points and dishing out six assists in 101-84 loss to Fort Wayne.
-----7th last week
6-5
The Vipers went 1-1 for the week and maintained the seventh slot in the Power Rankings, thanks to the efforts of D-League Performer of the Week Stanley Asumnu. The 6-5, 220-pound forward out of Tennessee averaged an NBA D-League-high 26.0 points to go along with a team-high 12.0 rpg, as the Vipers went 1-1. The Vipers face a stern test this week, as they host a strong Bakersfield Jam squad for a pair of games Thursday and Friday night.
-----8th last week
4-4
Fort Wayne also went 1-1 and held onto eighth place in the rankings, defeating the Eastern Conference rival Springfield Armor 101-84 on Sunday. Guard Cameron Jones -- fresh off of a stint in Miami Heat camp -- led the Mad Ants with a game-high 26 points, while Notre Dame product Tory Jackson chipped in with 13 points, eight assists and four steals. Meanwhile, Walker Russell Jr. may be on the way back to Fort Wayne after being waived by the Detroit Pistons.
-----9th last week
4-4
Dakota also held serve this week, going 1-1 including a tight 97-95 victory over the Sioux Falls Skyforce on Saturday night. 6-1, 195-pound guard Mauric Baker paced the Wizards with a game-high 26 points in the win, while forward Curtis Withers posted an 18-point, 11-rebound double-double. Four consecutive home games are slated for the Wizards, two apiece against the Springfield Armor and the aforementioned Sioux Falls Skyforce.
-----10th last week
4-6
Idaho is looking to snap a two-game losing streak with two games against the Reno Bighorns this weekend. Guard David Bailey impressed in his first outing for Idaho in the Stampede's 115-95 loss to the Reno Bighorns on Wednesday, scoring 17 points and dishing out five assists in 31 minutes of action. Guard Tony Bobbitt had 16 points and seven assists vs. Reno.
-----11th last week
4-5
Canton snapped a three-game losing streak with a 109-101 win over the Stampede on Saturday night, with former Hofstra guard Antoine Agudio scoring a game-high 22 points, dishing out four assists and grabbing four rebounds. The Charge have four straight home games, starting on Friday night vs Sioux Falls and culminating with New Year's Eve showdown against the local rival Erie BayHawks.
13th last week
4-5
Reno went 2-1 last week -- including a 115-95 victory over the Idaho Stampede last night -- moving up a notch in the Power Rankings. Stellar guard Blake Ahearn returned from his stint in an NBA camp and picked up right where he left off, scoring 23 points and dishing out nine assists in his first game back with the Bighorns. Reno hosts Idaho on Friday night, before traveling to face the Stampeders the day after Christmas. Two big games at Bakersfield close out the year of action for the Bighorns.
14th last week
4-7
Erie recorded back-to-back wins for the first time this season before dropping a decision to the Maine Red Claws on Sunday. The BayHawks look to get back on the winning track with three straight home games over the holiday period vs. Tulsa (Dec 23), Fort Wayne (Dec 28) and LA (Dec 29). Forward Tirrell Baines, out of Marshall, is averaging 19.2 points and 7.3 rebounds per game for Erie.
12th last week
3-5
Maine split a pair of games for the week, including a big 106-99 win over the local rival Erie BayHawks on Sunday. Former Syracuse standout Paul Harris went off for 30 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists in his second game for the Red Claws. Maine now prepares for a game against the defending D-League Champion and Eastern Conference-leading Iowa Energy on Friday night.
-----15th last week
3-6
The Skyforce split a pair of games last week, but the victory was against the local rival Dakota Wizards, with Sioux Falls recording a 108-96 victory last Friday. Guard Casey Mitchell didn't miss a beat, as he returned from his stint in the Houston Rockets training camp to score 21 points for the Skyforce, while teammate Billy McShepard posted a 22-point, 12-rebound double-double for Sioux Falls. The Skyforce face Fort Wayne and Canton this week, before hosting the Springfield Armor on Christmas Day.
-----16th last week
3-8
The Legends are still at the bottom of the Western Conference standings, but things are indeed looking up as Texas defeated the league-leading L.A. D-Fenders 112-108 on Wednesday. Booker Woodfox continued his torrid play for the Legends, scoring a team-high 22 points, while teammate Ramon Dyer added a 16-point, 10-rebound double-double. Things don't get any easier for Texas. however, as the Legends host the D-Fenders again on Friday night, before Rio Grande Valley (Dec 29) and Tulsa (Dec 30) come to town.