Santa Cruz Warriors Fall to Los Angeles D-Fenders Despite NBA Help


The Santa Cruz Warriors (15-26) dropped a game to the Los Angeles D-Fenders (25-16) on Saturday night, despite three players on assignment from the NBA.

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — On Saturday night, the Santa Cruz Warriors geared up for a battle of California when the Los Angeles D-Fenders cruised into Surf City for a divisional match-up.

The D-Fenders came in boasting a record of 24-16, one game behind the Reno Bighorns for first place in the division.

The Warriors got a boost of talent, as they suited up three players who were on assignment from the NBA. Unfortunately, this would not be enough to get the Warriors a win, as they ended up falling to the D-Fenders 114-110.

Golden State Warriors first round draft pick, Kevon Looney, made the trip to Santa Cruz to suit up for the D-League affiliate for the 11th time this season. He holds D-League averages of 9.5 points, 8 rebounds in 19.2 minutes per game.

Looney finished Saturday nights action with 14 points, 6 boards, on 6-for-12 shooting from the field, including 2-for-4 from behind the arc.

Santa Cruz also had two new faces from the Portland Trail Blazers who were on a “flex” assignment after playing a game in Golden State the night before. Both Cliff Alexander and Luis Montero made the quick trip from Oakland to Santa Cruz to suit up for this one, and were even inserted into the starting lineup.

Montero was tied with Darrington Hobson for the team lead in points on Saturday. Montero finished with 20 points, 7 rebounds, and shot 7-for-15 from the field.

Hobson had a great night as well, tallying a double-double with 20 points, 10 boards, and even pitched in 5 assists.

Montero talked about his first D-League experience and the adjustment of jumping in the game with guys he’s never played with before.

“I feel great to be here for the first time and play for the Santa Cruz D-League [team]. It felt good to meet everyone,” Montero told us, “It was something good. I was practicing [with the team] yesterday. I was telling everybody that I have a good relationship with everybody on the team so far. We had some fun tonight.”

Looney was used as a reserve off of the bench again, despite him being one of Golden State’s top prospects. The idea of him being inserted into the starting lineup is becoming a very real possibility, as soon as his minutes restriction is lifted.

“I think with a guy like him, I like for him to kind of see the temperature of the game and get kind of a landscape, and then come in and figure out where he needs to affect it,” Coach said, “Then once he’s off that minutes restriction we’ll start putting him in the starting lineup.”

The game was back and forth for the most part despite Los Angeles leading for most of the contest. The D-Fenders were able to match nearly every run that the Warriors made, only falling behind by as much as three points.

Santa Cruz fell down by as many as 11, but their undeniable effort kept the game close until the final buzzer sounded. After the game, Coach Casey Hill talked about what went wrong down the stretch.

“We had a couple of brain farts. I thought we forced them to hit some really tough shots, and they did,” Coach said after the game, “You combine those tough shots being hit with some empty possessions offensively. Which I expected to happen with three assignment players who haven’t played with these guys as much.”

Next: Warriors Pull Out Win in Fourth Quarter Against Suns

Late in the fourth, Warriors guard Verdell Jones III went down hard on a fast break, immediately grabbing the right side of his body. He was helped off the court after a couple minutes of being down on the floor. He did not return to the game.

After the game, Coach Hill addressed Jones’ injury.

“He cramped up. His whole right side cramped up,” Coach told reporters post-game, “I mean, it’s just one of those things, one goes, then you react, then that goes, then you just don’t know how to move.

It’s the worst. So, we got some ice on him, feeding him Gatorade. Hopefully he will be able to go [Sunday night].”

The Warriors will be back at it again as they welcome in the Delaware 87ers. This may perhaps be the biggest game of the year as former All-Star and Golden State Warriors point guard, Baron Davis, is making his return to the NBA. Davis signed with the Philadelphia 76ers D-League affiliate a little over a week ago.

Davis is averaging 14.3 points and 2.3 assists in his three games since returning.