Daniel Nwaelele ties franchise record of six three-pointers made.
Santa Cruz Warriors coach Casey Hill said the stats would speak for themselves after last night's disappointing loss. Actions speak louder than words for this year's Santa Cruz Warriors team as they came out with a sense of urgency and made a statement at their final game of the early season home-stand. The Warriors (4-1) defeated the visiting Los Angeles D-Fenders (0-2) 122-112 in what turned into an offensive juggernaut.
"It felt really good to get back on track and have these guys shooting and sharing the basketball as well as they did," said Hill.
The Warriors made-up for their offensive woes the previous game with precision and efficiency as they shot nearly 60 percent from the field including over 50 percent from three-point range on 12-of-23 shooting. They also scored 52 points in the paint compared to the D-Fenders 36 points. The Warriors also owned the glass collecting 44 rebounds, 11 of which were offensive, a much-improved stat compared to the previous game against the Bakersfield Jam
"(The Team) took it personal. It's a good sign for a comeback after a bad game," said Hill. "We have very mature men that take their job very seriously."
Daniel Nwaelele found his rhythm early nailing four three-pointers in the first quarter to help pace the Santa Cruz team. He finished with 24 points, his largest total as a member of the Santa Cruz Warriors, while shooting 6-for-10 from three-point range, tying a franchise record.
"(The victory) brings a little bit of momentum, and we need that going on the road," said Nwaelele.
The D-Fenders looked like a team that hadn't played a game in a week as they scored early and often, matching the Warriors basket-for-basket. NBA D-League's top-ranked prospect Malcolm Thomas got going early as he racked-up 14 points in the first quarter, finishing with a game high 31 points along with 13 rebounds for the D-Fenders.
Curry forgot about last night's performance early, rattling off 9 points in the first quarter while shooting 4-for-5 from the field. He also dished out four assists in the first quarter. He had 17 points on 5-of-10 shooting along with 9 assists in the victory. He also tied another franchise record with nine turnovers for the game.
Ryan Kelly, on assignment from the Los Angeles Lakers had a modest game nailing most of his outside shots. The fellow Duke alum and former college teammate of Seth Curry tallied 21 points and snatched 8 rebounds for the D-Fenders.
NBA All-Rookie Second Team Award winner in 2008 Jamario Moon scored 17 points, 4 assists and 4 rebounds for the D-Fenders.
The Warriors continued pushing the tempo in the second quarter opening with a 13-to-5 run. Hilton Armstrong dominated inside the paint, finishing the first-half with 18 points, including a no-look floater he tossed up after being fouled, reminiscent of a similar play by John Starks years ago.
The Warriors were able to control the paint on defense as the D-Fenders were content shooting from the outside sinking 9-of-17 three-point attempts in the first half.
It was much of the same in the third quarter as the Warriors opened the second-half with a 9-to-2 run as the team broke the century mark scoring 100 points after just three quarters of play. Cam Jones led all scorers in the quarter with 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting. He finished with a team-high 27 points to go with three rebounds.
The fourth quarter saw the Warriors drop to below
double-digits late in the contest as Hilton Armstrong sat with five fouls for most of the quarter. The D-Fenders went to Thomas often as he posted up the smaller Mychel Thompson and found easy
looks at the basket from the block. It proved to be too little, too late for the D-Fenders as they couldn't cut the
lead to less than eight points.
Kevin Kotzur found his groove in the fourth quarter as he grabbed six rebounds to go with six points. He finished with a double-double on the night with 16 points and 11 rebounds including five offensive boards.
It was important for this team to find a victory before traveling on a five-game road trip, one they needed on a division rival.
"We need to keep on getting better," said Nwaelele. "We got a long streak on the road so we got to be road warriors, buckle down and take care of business."
"These guys like each other and that shows because they share the basketball," said Hill. "It will definitely be a test for us but I think we're in a pretty good place both in the locker room and on the court."
While the Warriors are winning with offensive explosiveness (every victory coming when the team scores over 100 points), they still need to focus on the other end of their game.
"Going forward we defintely need to get better defensively," said Nwaelele.
The Warriors hit the road Dec. 6 when they take on the Reno Bighorns.They return to Kaiser Permanente Arena Dec. 17 when they host the Los Angeles D-Fenders. The Warriors will be wearing custom jerseys to support the Salvation Army, of which will be auctioned off during the game. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m.