Harper’s Block Seals D-fenders’ Win Over Drive
EL SEGUNDO — Vander Blue drove and scored with seven seconds remaining, and Justin Harper blocked Chris Horton’s tying dunk attempt with two seconds left to seal the win for the Los Angeles D-Fenders (17-5) over the Grand Rapids Drive (11-11) on Saturday night. The final was 123-121, snapping a three-game win streak by the Drive.
Josh Magette’s three-point play had Los Angeles up by three, but Jordan Crawford tied the game with just under 30 seconds left with a deep 3-pointer before Blue’s layup on the ensuing possession. Crawford fought through a double-team on the Drive’s final possession to find Horton wide open, but Harper swooped in for the game-icing block.
Blue led six D-Fenders in double figures with 25 points, Magette had 17 points and 14 assists and Harper provided 17 points and nine rebounds. Jeff Ayres was outstanding in the fourth quarter down the stretch, finishing with 12 points and nine rebounds.
Crawford continued to be one of the hottest players in the D-League for Grand Rapids, scoring 27 points in 29 minutes off the bench for the Drive, also draining 6-of-9 3-pointers. Ray McCallum had his second triple-double of the season (and the third in Drive franchise history), recording 18 points, 12 rebounds and a season-high 13 assists. Kevin Murphy also chipped in 24 points. The D-Fenders jumped out to a double-digit lead early in the game and looked like they would go relatively unchallenged, but the Drive came flying back late in the second quarter and eventually tied the game at 56 at the half. Los Angeles’ 36-21 lead after one quarter equaled their largest lead of the game.
It was a proficient offensive game for both teams, even with the Drive starting a road trip and coming off a late win over Santa Cruz the previous night. The teams combined for 79 points in the third quarter (40-39 Los Angeles), one of the highest totals in the D-League this year. The Drive shot 18-of-36 from three to equal their season high in accuracy from deep, but the D-Fenders dominated the glass with a 53-41 rebounding advantage.
The D-Fenders stay home for the next contest, Jan. 12 against the Oklahoma City Blue. The Drive continue their road trip, taking on Reno on Jan. 9.