Santa Cruz Warriors vs. L.A. D-Fenders preview: Looking to finish the season-opening homestand strong

Former Golden State Warriors player Malcolm Thomas will be facing the franchise's D-League affiliate tonight in Santa Cruz. - Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

After a rough week for the Golden State Warriors, can the Santa Cruz Warriors help lift our spirits?


Santa Cruz Warriors (3-1) vs. L.A. D-Fenders (0-1)

7 p.m.

Kaiser Permanente Arena - Santa Cruz, CA

Online: YouTube

Last night was a tough one for the Warriors franchise.

While the Golden State Warriors lost a heartbreaker to Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Santa Cruz Warriors took their first loss of the season against the Bakersfield Jam.

Tonight Santa Cruz is back at it against the L.A. D-Fenders to finish their five-game season-opening homestand while Golden State gets a much-needed day off. Making matters tougher for Santa Cruz on the back-to-back is that the L.A. D-Fenders are coming off an extended rest.

In a strange scheduling quirk so early in the season, the D-Fenders have had a week off since their season-opening loss on November 23. And if you're looking for familiar names or faces, the D-Fenders have plenty: 2008 NBA All-Rookie Second Team selection Jamario Moon, former Lakers first round pick Kareem Rush, and Malcolm Thomas who played briefly with the Golden State Warriors just last season.

Thomas has already played for four D-League teams - including Santa Cruz - during his short professional career and Scott Rafferty of SB Nation's Ridiculous Upside suggests this could be his year to finally break out after a strong opening night performance.

...this year, he may not be spending all that much time in the NBA's minor league...In his season debut, Thomas led the D-Fenders with 36 points and 18 rebounds. He shot 12-for-17 from the field, 2-for-4 from the three and 10-for-15 from the charity stripe. He also recorded four steals, three blocks and three assists.

The Vipers really had no answer in stopping Thomas. In the first half, he scored most of his points with his back to the basket and after the Vipers made defensive adjustments at the half, Thomas displayed his ability to run the floor, handle the ball and shoot in the third and fourth quarter.

Of course, Santa Cruz has already produced its first call-up of the season in Dewayne Dedmon and they have two more top prospects still on the roster according to the D-League's prospect watch rankings: Seth Curry (#13) and Cam Jones (#14). Jones led Santa Cruz with 22 points last night while Curry scored 16 of his 18 in the first quarter to go along with a team-high 7 assists.

They've been a fun team to watch so far this season and, hey, it's always nice to get a Beat LA chant in there isn't it?

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