The Dallas Mavericks made a surprising announcement yesterday: they had assigned Jae Crowder, Bernard James and Shane Larkins to their D-League affiliate, the Texas Legends, and that all three would be available for last night's matchup against the L.A. D-Fenders.
Crowder and James, both former second round draft picks, have appeared in 58 and 24 games respectively for the Mavericks this season. Larkin, the 18th pick in this year's draft, has played in 40, but had fallen out of the rotation recently, registering just seven minutes in his last four games.
The D-Fenders also had some exciting news of their own. Joining the team for the first time this season was Xavier Henry, who had been recovering from a knee injury that had kept him out for 27 straight games. Other than Henry, who is averaging 10.1 points per game with the Lakers this season, they had their usual cast of former NBA players in Terrence Williams, Shawne Williams and Manny Harris.
With four NBA players on assignment in this game, it was set to be a good one for the fans in Frisco, but more importantly, the Legends were in dire need of a win. After going 15-12 in their first 27 games of the season, they had lost 10 straight heading into last night's contest, pushing them way down in the D-League standings. If they have any hopes of making the Playoffs this season, they'll need to hit their stride soon, as they are currently 5.5 games behind the Sioux Falls Skyforce for the eight seed. But with the help of three rotation NBA players, this was a good of night as any to get things rolling again.
And that, they did.
The combination of Crowder and James proved far too much for the D-Fenders to handle. James was a bully in the paint all night long, cleaning up the offensive glass, throwing down a handful of powerful dunks and swatting away any shot that came in his sight. While he stole the headlines with a loud 38 points and 18 rebounds, his teammate Jae Crowder, quietly had a monster game himself, recording a triple double with 23 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists.
|Name||Minutes||Points||FG||3PT||FT||Offensive Rebounds||Defensive Rebounds||Total Rebounds||Assists||Turnovers||Steals||Blocks||+/-|
Overall, the two Mavericks combined for 61 points, 36 rebounds and 11 assists on 29-43 shooting, and the Legends went on to win by a final score of 121-103. The D-Fenders shot a season-low 36.5 percent from the floor on the night, and just 18.8 percent from three. They also gave up 76 points in the paint and 33 on the fast break, which tends not to be a recipe for success.
After the game, Texas Legends head coach Eduardo Najera had the following to say about Crowder, James and Larkin:
"Obviously they showed that they’re above the D-League." -- TX Legends coach Eduardo Najera on Bernard James, Jae Crowder and Shane Larkin— Dwain Price (@DwainPrice) February 28, 2014
Sadly for the Legends - who could certainly use some extra firepower right now - the three will rejoin the Mavericks today. Nevertheless, seeing as the D-Fenders are currently holders of the sixth best record in the D-League, a win against a Playoff team might be what they need to boost their confidence.