Lakers rookie center Ivica Zubac returned to the D-Fenders after the Spurs game to get in some experience and play time and that he did!
T’was, the night before Thanksgiving and all through the Toyota Center, was a hush, Ivica Zubac was back in the house!
The D-Fenders are stacked as it is, adding the Lakers rookie center Ivica is a bonus. Three D-Fenders, Josh Magette (1st in assists, 11.5 apg), Vander Blue (8th in scoring, 25.3 ppg) and David Foster (2nd in blocks, 3.3 bpg) are among the leaders in the D-League.
Article continues below ...
Travis Wear was on the bench recovering from a concussion, so it was David Foster who suffered in minutes played with Zub on the roster.
Zubac started the game strong, he shot jumpers, layups, and slammed a dunk home. First quarter stats were very impressive, he missed one shot and went into the locker room with a team-high 13 points. Add on to that seven rebounds, six of them were defensive, plus one assist and one 3-pointer.
By the end of the game, Zubac had scored his first double-double of his professional career. He ended up scoring 21 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Zubac was one of three D-Fenders who joined the double-double club that night. Justin Harper (16 points, 11 rebounds) and David Nwaba (19 points, 11 rebounds) both had stellar performances. Vander Blue scored a team-high 26 points along with seven of his teammates scoring in double figures.
Together, the D-Fenders shot the lights out in the first half making 66.7 percent of their shots.
AT THE HALF: It's all offense as LA has a season-best 73 pts on 66.7%, leading the Suns 73-51.
There were a few moments the crowd had to catch their breath. The first one was at the hands of Julian Jacobs who slammed the ball home much to the delight of fans who packed the gym. Second, it was Vander Blue’s turn. Vander seemed to get fouled every time he went to the basket. After his dunk, he slid into the Lakers logo behind the basket and preceded to take a few strokes as he swam face down on the court, it was hilarious.
The third dunk took the cake. David Nwaba, on a fast break, flew through the air, and with a man on, stuffed the ball so hard in his opponents face, everyone got to their feet let out a low murmur. Nwaba’s bench covered their mouths in astonishment before jumping up and down. The dunk is included in these highlights below.
The D-Fenders ended the half ahead by 22, 73-51. That lead was about to be diminished deep into the third quarter as Zubac was perplexed to be called for traveling by the ref, “Hey I didn’t travel,” argued Ivica. Vander went cold, and Josh struggled against an invigorate former Colorado Buffalo Askia Booker.
The Suns erased the 22 point lead with four minutes left in the game, and the lead went back and forth several times. The battle between Josh Magette and Askia Booker was fierce, Booker was sinking 3-pointers, Josh made shots all over the floor.
Shaquille Harrison out Tulsa hit a layup to tied the score for the Suns, and the team went to overtime. Both Elijah Millsap (Paul Millsaps younger brother) and Gracin Bakumanya (Congo) both scored 35 points in the game.
Magette took over the three minutes of overtime, floaters, layups, and he had help from veterans Blue, and Justin Hawkins. But the star who stole the show was guard David Nwaba. Nwaba can jump so high, his head is above the rim, a couple of key blocks and one big put-back put the D-Fenders up by seven points and the book was closed.
The D-Fenders finally put away the Northern Arizona Suns. Blue made the last five points, and his team held their opponents scoreless to finally guarantee the win in double overtime.
The D-Fenders are now in first place all by themselves in the NBA D-League’s Pacific Division. With Zubac in tow, Los Angeles plays again at 5 p.m. PST on Saturday, Nov. 26. They play the Rio Grande Valley Vipers twice in a row; the Vipers represent the D-Fenders one loss on the season.