D-Fenders Fall In Down-to-the-Wire D-League Finals Rematch

By Joey Ramirez | December 29, 2016

Eight months after coming up just short in the D-League Finals, the D-Fenders finally had their shot at vengeance against the Sioux Falls Skyforce. But the reigning champs managed to shed Los Angeles off in the final seconds. With the game tied, Josh Magette seemed to be fouled on a shot, but no whistle was blown. Instead Sioux Falls’ Briante Weber took it all the way to the other basket for the go-ahead score with 3.3 seconds left, as the D-Fenders fell, 128-125.

D-Fender of the Game
Josh Magette: Despite the no-call at the end, Magette’s performance could not be diminished, as he scored a career-high 24 points while knocking down three 3-pointers along the way. The 27-year-old also passed to his usual standard of excellence by handing out 13 assists.

Prospect Watch
Vander Blue (5): It was a strong night for the D-Fenders’ backcourt as a whole, as Blue racked up 27 points, including some much-needed scoring in the fourth quarter. The Marquette product took it right to the teeth of the Skyforce’s defense, ending up with a 12-of-12 mark at the foul line.

Justin Harper (17):
Fittingly, the D-Fenders’ three key returners from last season’s squad — Magette, Blue and Harper — all had big performances against Sioux Falls. Harper wound up with his seventh double-double of the season, managing 19 points and 11 rebounds.

The Los Angeles Lakers’ Ivica Zubac was assigned to the D-Fenders earlier in the day and had a nice display, tallying 15 points and nine rebounds. Though he also shot 7-of-10 from the field, it wasn’t all pretty for Zubac, who, like Blue, committed five turnovers.

Key Stat
Three: Sioux Falls players who scored at least 25 points. Okaro White led the way by piling up 36 points while shooting 15-of-16 at the charity stripe, and Marcus Posley followed suit with 29 points and a 7-of-10 clip on 3-pointers. Meanwhile, Keith Benson took care of things down low with 25 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks.

Looking Ahead
The D-Fenders (13-5) will now host the team right behind them in the Pacific Division standings: Northern Arizona (10-5). L.A. is catching the Suns at an opportune time, as they have lost all of their last five games.

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