In Part One of Blue Man Hoop’s Santa Cruz Warriors 2016-17 season finale series, writer Angelo Mendoza recaps the Sea Dubs 127-117 win over the Los Angeles D-Fenders at Kaiser Permanente Arena.
SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — The Santa Cruz Warriors closed out the 2016-17 NBA D-League regular season with a 127-117 victory over the Los Angeles D-Fenders on Friday at Kaiser Permanente Arena.
Surf City will finish their season with a 31-19 W/L record after going 19-31 the year prior.
Damian Jones was named Player of the Game on Saturday for his 25-point performance against the D-Fenders, adding in seven rebounds and five blocks on 11-for-15 shooting from the field and 3-for-8 shooting from the free throw line.
Jones said after the game that he was unsure as to whether he’d be called back up to the Golden State Warriors, which was confirmed by Santa Cruz Warriors head coach Casey Hill.
Jabari Brown continued to be a threat off the bench, dropping in 21 points, five rebounds and three assists on 5-of-8 shooting from the field, 3-of-4 shooting from behind the arc, and 8-of-10 shooting from the charity stripe. He finished a game-high +24.
Cleanthony Early saw some floor time after missing the last three games, notching 19 points and seven boards on 6-of-13 shooting from the field, 2-of-3 shooting from behind the arc, and 5-of-7 shooting from the free throw line.
When asked about the health of the team heading into the postseason, Coach Hill said the team is currently at it’s healthiest in the past couple weeks, also mentioning that Friday night would be a sort of test for Early so that the team would be able to gauge whether the power forward would be good to go in the playoffs.
After Early’s performance on Friday against the D-Fenders, it’s safe to say Early will have some sort of role in the postseason. The same likely goes for Chris Obekpa, who has been slowly working back into the rotation after suffering a knee injury back in February.
No official word on the status of Elgin Cook or Dennis Clifford, who were both inactive Friday.
LaDontae Henton posted a double-double off the bench with 17 points (6-11 FG, 3-6 3P, 2-2 FT) and 11 rebounds. Alex Hamilton also recorded a double-double off the bench, finishing with 15 points (5-8 FG, 5-5 FT) and 10 assists. Phil Pressey added 11 points (5-12 FG) and five assists.
The Santa Cruz Warriors will host the Oklahoma City Blue in the first game of the first round of the 2017 NBA D-League Playoffs.
Though the 4-seed Warriors were originally set to face Los Angeles in the first round, the Blue moved ahead of the D-Fenders for the first seed after defeating the Texas Legends 115-96 on Saturday.
In related news, Santa Cruz was unable to move up to the third seed after the Rio Grande Valley Vipers narrowly defeated the Iowa Energy 118-115 on Saturday.
The D-League postseason officially begins on April 4.
The Santa Cruz Warriors play host their first postseason game of the 2017 Playoffs on April [email protected]:30 p.m. PST.