The D-Fenders will pay tribute to the late Dr. Jerry Buss, former owner of the Lakers and D-Fenders, on Jan. 27 at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario.
Buss passed away from cancer complications last February. The D-Fenders will celebrate what would have been his 81st birthday when hosting the Texas Legends.
"We are excited to showcase D-Fenders basketball to fans in Ontario for a second straight season," said Joey Buss, D-Fenders president and CEO as well as part owner of the Lakers. "Last year’s game was a huge success, and we aim to duplicate that success this year. The Lakers have been coming to Citizens Business Bank Arena for several years and it’s a special opportunity for us to celebrate with this tribute game."
The D-Fenders, who represent the Lakers in the NBA Development League affiliate, are 7-7 after winning four straight games.
On Monday, 6-foot-5 guard Manny Harris was named NBA Development League performer of the week, after averaging 29.3 points a game over the past three contests.
On Saturday, the D-Fenders overcame a 17-point deficit to overtake the Bakersfield Jam, 107-94. The Jam visited with four players on assignment including Rudy Gobert and Ian Clark of the Utah Jazz, Dwight Buycks of the Toronto Raptors and Jared Cunningham of the Atlanta Hawks.
Like the Lakers, the D-Fenders have a promotion giving away free food if the home team wins while holding their opponent under 100 points. For the Lakers, the giveaway is tacos -- often leading to a, "We want tacos" chant at Staples Center.
The D-Fenders gave out certificates for free pulled pork sandwiches at Britt's Barbecue in El Segundo, near the Lakers' practice facility where the D-Fenders play their home games.
While there was not a, "We want pork" chant Saturday, the crowd got to see a nice comeback. After the game, a number of players stayed to sign autographs and take pictures with the fans.
Earlier in the season, the Lakers sent Ryan Kelly to the D-Fenders for five games, where he averaged 25.2 points along with 7.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists.
Kelly recently credited his D-League stint for helping him get back into shape after spending most of the summer recovering from foot surgery. He's not a regular part of the Lakers' rotation.
In the D-League, rosters change regularly as players are called up to the NBA.
After two games, the D-Fenders' best inside player, Malcolm Thomas, was signed by the San Antonio Spurs.
The D-Fenders recently picked up Terrence Williams, who was originally drafted in 2011 by the New Jersey Nets (now in Brooklyn) with the 11th overall pick.
"The guys in this league, they adapt," said Coach Bob MacKinnon. "They just want to play."
Jamario Moon played a season with the Clippers, along with stints in Toronto, Miami, Cleveland and Charlotte. Harris spent two seasons with Cleveland.
Given his production with the D-Fenders, Harris could be the next to get a call-up to the NBA.
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