The Los Angeles D-Fenders, the Los Angeles Lakers’ NBA Development League affiliate, will play their home opener tonight, facing the defending champion Santa Cruz Warriors at the Toyota Sports Center.
The D-Fenders’ 12-player roster includes three players with NBA
experience — guards Vander Blue and Manny Harris and forward Malcolm Thomas —
and two players assigned to them by the Lakers — center Robert Upshaw and
guard Michael Frazier, who were both cut by the Lakers during the preseason.
An NBA team can assign up to four players to its NBA Development League
affiliate after they’ve been cut from the NBA team’s roster and cleared NBA
D-Fenders first-year coach Casey Owens said he will run the same
offensive system as the Lakers.
“The guys that are sent down will certainly have a seamless transition
for them as far as terminology goes and actions, but in the D-League, you’ve
also got to play a little faster — there tends to be more possessions per game
— so we’ll tailor it to the speed of the D-League,” Owens said.
The D-Fenders opened the season with a 123-121 victory at Reno Friday
night, with forward Justin Hawkins breaking a tie by making two free throws
with 7.8 seconds left and the Bighorns, the Sacramento Kings affiliate, missing
a 3-point shot and layup in the final seconds.
Harris led all scorers with 39 points and Blue added 26.
Santa Cruz, the Golden State Warriors NBA Development League affiliate,
opened its season by defeating the Bakersfield Jam, 104-87, on Friday night.