G-League Game Review: Drive survive against Fort Wayne, gain ground in playoff chase

The Grand Rapids Drive (24-21) got an important win in their playoff push against division rival Fort Wayne (26-19) on a school-kids day matinee at the DeltaPlex Arena.

The Drive were lead by Kay Felder who scored 24 points with eight rebounds and six assists and Landry Nnoko who filled the stat-sheet with 19 points, 18 rebounds, four assists, and eight blocks. Detroit Pistons two-way player Reggie Hearn also had a strong outing with 19 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. DeQuan Jones led Fort Wayne with 21 points and six rebounds.

The win was of even more importance to the Drive as they now sit two games behind the Mad Ants for first place in the Central division. The G-League playoffs take six teams from each conference, with the three division winners getting automatic bids. The Drive currently sit just a game ahead of the Windy City Bulls (23-22) and Lakeland Magic (23-22) for the sixth spot in the conference, so a division victory would be much more comfortable.

The Drive came into the game with as full a compliment as they have had this year with both two-way players (Felder and Hearn) in uniform, as well as Landry Nnoko and Derek Willis who spent the preseason with the Pistons and are affiliate players.

Landry Nnoko wasted no time in assuming a dominant role in the game, scoring the Drive’s first bucket of the day. Fort Wayne simply had no answer for his size inside when the game started and never found one as the game went on. Nnoko would end up making big plays with his rebounding and defense the entire game while finding places to put the ball in the hoop.

Kay Felder started off the game slowly and did not score his first bucket until the second quarter, but with some help from huge Landry Nnoko screens he was able to get loose for some mid-range jump shots and it jump-started his game as he scored a quick eight points in the second quarter. His first bucket gave the Drive their first lead of the game as well. Felder would continue to be a factor the rest of the game, including icing the game in overtime with two clutch jumpers over the defense.


Before getting to Felder’s late-game heroics, the Drive nearly lost the game after they failed to stop the Mad Ants on multiple possessions, including giving up a huge dunk to DeQuan Jones on an out of an out of bounds play that put Fort Wayne up by three.

Derek Willis hit a game-saving three-pointer to tie the game back up, which was followed by K.J. McDaniels forcing a jump-ball on Fort Wayne’s ensuing possession, a jump ball that he won, in order to ensure that the Drive survived for overtime.

McDaniels ended up being an important piece of the victory after being quiet for most of the game, he finished with 16 points and 7 rebounds but it was his defensive effort that really was impactful. In addition to the forced jump-ball, he forced several other turnovers late in the game and in overtime including forcing a back-court violation which all but snuffed out Fort Wayne’s already slim hopes.

The Drive will have one day off before hosting the Erie BayHawks on Thursday, March 15, at the DeltaPlex Arena. Fort Wayne will be off until Friday when they will host the Canton Charge.

Triple Threat:

  1. Reggie Hearn has some Reggie Bullock in his game. Moves really well without the ball and finds ways to get open, impressive considering how little he has played with the Drive.
  2. Jon Horford may not be an NBA caliber big man, but he is a very fine G-Leaguer. His comfort in the motion offense as a hub at the elbows was obvious and he made several very nice passes even if he only finished with one assist.
  3. When Landry Nnoko notched his eighth block, Kay Felder turned to Fort Wayne head coach Steve Gansey and said “Olajuwon baby.” I couldn’t help but agree with this sentiment.