After three straight wins in the last minute of regulation, the D-Fenders somehow decided to become even more clutch, beating Canton with just a few ticks left in overtime.
After trailing by as many as 22 points in the the third quarter, the D-Fenders made up ground in a flash, and Vander Blue came through with the game on the line. With 2.5 seconds left in the extra period, he rose up, absorbed contact from his defender and sunk the go-ahead 3-pointer from the top of the arc.
Blue then completed the four-point play and Josh Magette stole the Charge’s inbound pass to steal the 122-118 win.
Player of the Game
Vander Blue: The D-League’s fourth-ranked prospect brought the heat even before his game-winner, finishing the contest with 40 points. He reached that total from inside and out, knocking down 11 free throws and five 3-pointers while also notching four assists and four steals. Blue was the captain of Los Angeles’ comeback, as he scored 26 of his points in the second half and overtime.
Ivica Zubac became one of just 10 players in the history of the NBA and D-League to play in both leagues on the same day, as he hit a hook shot against the LA Clippers in the afternoon before going off for 20 points and 10 rebounds in the D-Fenders’ win at night. The 19-year-old felt that he put forth his best D-League performance yet, shooting 8-of-10 from the field and 4-of-4 on free throws while playing admirable pick-and-roll defense.
Justin Harper (22): It was a roller coaster game for Harper, who shot just 4-of-12 from the field and was saddled with five fouls. However, he also captured a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds — and hit a clutch 3-pointer with 2:42 left in regulation to retake the lead at 109-107.
Josh Magette (24):
Like Harper, Magette didn’t shoot well but did come through under pressure. He concluded just 3-of-12 from the field, but one of those buckets was a pull-up 3-pointer with 20.7 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 114 and force overtime. He finished in range of a double-double with eight points, nine assists and four steals.
3: Shots taken by Canton in overtime. The D-Fenders hit just three of their 10 shots in the added period, but they dominated the possession battle, which allowed them to atone for their inaccuracy. They did this by hauling in four offensive rebounds — by Blue, Harper, David Nwaba and Travis Wear — while Magette also came up with a pair of steals.
The D-Fenders have the next week off before completing their five-game homestand on Jan. 26 against the Sioux Falls Skyforce. It will be another rematch of last year’s D-League Finals between the two teams with the league’s best current record. These clubs slugged it out on Dec. 28, and it came down to the final possession in Sioux Falls’ 128-125 victory.