LA Confidential: Fireballs Finally Falls at Home in the Hands of the Predators as LaCruz Struggles Badly
- By Jron Magcale, Day 33, 2026
LOS ANGELES - The Fireballs finally dropped a game in LA in the expense of Chris LaCruz worst game of his career against the team's kryptonite the Dallas Predators. The team drops to 8-6 win-loss card and slipped to 5th in the Western Conference and 9th in the Power Rankings while being 1 game behind the Pacific Division leaders Portland Lumberjacks. Despite the home defeat the Fireballs has been making strides on defense leading the league in DRtg with 103.1 which is a big improvement from their DRtg last season of 114.3, the team's focus to get their team competitive in defense paid off as they are showing great defensively. A fast-paced offense that thrives in transition while still able to keep up on defense is something that the Fireballs have openly been discussing even before the season starts.
PREDATORS CONTINUES TO PUNISH THE FIREBALLS AS LACRUZ BADLY STRUGGLES
There is no way to explain what happened to this game but LaCruz didn't show up. A downright ugly game for their franchise player as he was limited to a career worst 2 points on 1/15 FG (0/1 3FG) while he did dished out 5 dimes had 5 steals and 4 rebounds it is so much unlike LaCruz who was missing shots left and right and wasn't as aggressive. The Predators took advantage of LaCruz bad game by mounting a big 2nd half that saw them scoring 34 points in the 4th quarter to pull away with the W in LA, the 1st team to beat the Fireballs at their own house. Keyon Barber aka Sweeney iced the game with 2 FTs to put the Predators up by 4 with 10 seconds left. The Fireballs tried to get close cutting the lead to 1 90-91 with 46 seconds remaining in the game with a Fortier close range jump shot, the Predators connected 2 free throws with 38 seconds remaining via Nicolas Acosta to put them by 3 90-93. Derrick Griffin, Dejuan Brooks and Reggie Fortier all missed their attempts from the outside in the span of 10 seconds. With 12 seconds remaining Griffin fouled Barber where Sweeney knocks down 2 FTs to put them by 5 90-95. Aaron Taphorn missed a long jumper with 4 seconds and that is all she wrote.
The Fireballs was lead by Dejuan Brooks with 18 points while Reggie Fortier added 17 points, Derrick Griffin had 16 points, 7 rebounds, 5 blocks, 3 assist and 1 steal while off the bench rookie PG Keiron Bloom played 26 minutes and was able to contribute with 16 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals an 1 block. The Predators was anchored by Deandre Stackhouse's 22 points, 12 rebounds and 3 blocks while Terrell Sanford posted 16 points as well, Acosta added 14 points and off the bench Ryan Pierce added a double-double 10 points and 12 rebounds.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Deandre Stackhouse, DAL - 22 points (9/19 FG, 1/5 3FG, 3/4 FT), 12 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 steal and 1 assist.
NOTABLE FIREBALLS PLAYERS:
Dejuan Brooks - D-Brooks has been playing solid basketball all year, he scored team-high 18 points on 6/14 FG, he connected 4/10 3FG as well, he also had 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks. D-Brooks has been really been impressive and hasn't drop drastically performance-wise when he was moved from SF to SG. The 6'7" flex wing has been taking advantage to the playing time he is getting in LA.
Reggie Fortier - Fortier had a decent outing against the Predators contributing 17 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 steal. The former Most Defensive Player of the Year was one of the bright spots on their bad game at home. Since coming back from injury Fortier has been playing most of his minutes at the PF position and has been holding his ground well.
Derrick Griffin - One of the very reason why this team is one of the best defensive teams in the league and he didn't disappoint as he posted 16 points, 7 rebounds, 5 blocks, 3 assists and 1 steal against the Predators but unfortunately his running mate LaCruz wasn't in his usual self. Griffin will continue to be the defensive ace that will make the Fireballs a dangerous defensive team this season.
EXTRA NOTES: The headline to this game was LaCruz awful game but the bright spot is rookie PG Keiron Bloom flashing his potential as he dropped 16 points on 7/10 FG (2/2 3FG), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 1 block in 26 minutes off the bench. He is slowly putting up solid development and the LA franchise likes what they are seeing. LaCruz despite shooting very bad did played solid defense he posted 98.4 Drtg and had 5 steals and also did limit his match up Keyon Barber to 9 points on 2/14 FG (1/8 3FG). Devearl Stoudamire has since cool down only scoring 5 points of the bench. Aaron Taphorn scored 8 points but shot only 4/10 FG he also grabbed 10 boards and had 2 dimes. If the Fireballs wants to compete, LaCruz needs to avoid games like this one, especially at their home turf.