When Los Angeles has all their ducks in a row, they are that type of team who can be unstoppable. Just ask the Iowa Energy tonight.
The D-Fenders put up 33 points in the first quarter propelling them to a Game One 114-103 win over the Energy at Wells Fargo Arena.
L.A. went 14-for-20 in the first quarter whereas the Energy couldn't find the bottom of the basket -- shooting 22 percent from the floor in the opening 12 minutes.
"The first quarter was about as trying as a quarter that we've had all year," said Energy Head Coach Kevin Young, who is experiencing his first playoffs as Iowa's head coach. "We won the game for three quarters. You take away our poor shooting in the first quarter, it'd be a different story."
Even though the team came out a little rusty, Division III star Ben Strong had a "strong" game. Strong, who played his college ball at Guilford, put up 27 points and 13 rebounds in the losing effort.
"Basketball is a game that is simple and complex," said Strong. "We dug too deep of a hole for ourselves in that first quarter. But, for those other three, we played well."
From the beginning of the second to the final horn, Iowa outscored the overall top seed 88-81.
Strong shot 11-for-16 from the floor, including an unblemished 5-for-5 from the free throw line. As a team, the Energy shot 20-for-22 from the stripe.
Strong was excited to be in the playoffs as this is his first taste of professional postseason play here in the United States. Strong made the Division III Final Four in 2007 for Guilford (he also was named Player of the Year the same season) and also had a postseason taste in the Dutch Basketball League, but that doesn't compare to pro American ball.
"The atmosphere here tonight was awesome," said Strong. "I'm excited to head to L.A., I've never been there before."
Strong and his teammates played before a crowd of 3,735.
Young agrees with the execution his team had for 36 minutes.
"I thought we executed well tonight," said Young. "We could have gotten it inside a little bit more, but from the second quarter on, I thought we really did some things well."
Los Angeles executed better, however.
"They made their shots when we couldn't," Young said.
In the game, the D-Fenders shot 41-for-78. Top scorer for the D-Fenders was Jamario Moon with 25 points, five rebounds and three assists.
"Moon is a veteran who is tough to defend against," Young said.
It wasn't just Moon who made an impact for the Lakers' sole affiliate.
Five other players scored in double figures: Malcolm Thomas with 18 off the bench, Elijah Millsap (17), Otis George (14), Mardy Collins had 12 and Orien Greene (11).
Curtis Stinson made his first appearance coming off of a back injury he sustained a couple of weeks ago.
"I felt good tonight," said Stinson, who ended up with 13 points on the night. "It was a little tough getting back in the routine, but I felt pretty good tonight."
Iowa and Los Angeles will meet again -- this time out west -- on Saturday night in El Segundo, Calif. as the best-of-three playoff series rolls on.