Grand Rapids continues to win in nail-biter 91-89 over Westchester Knicks

The Grand Rapids Drive (26-21) got their third straight win over a team ahead of them in the conference by beating the conference-leading Westchester Knicks (31-17) at the DeltaPlex.

The Knicks got out to a quick start but the Drive got back into the game. The Drive managed to tie up the game several times but did not take a lead until the fourth quarter when Kay Felder hit a floater to go up 86-85.

The game came down to the wire, with the Knicks committing several costly mistakes, Xavier Rathan-Mays missed a pair of free throws, they committed an unneeded foul on Reggie Hearn, and then put the final nail in the coffin by committing a five-second violation on their final possession attempt to tie the game.

The Drive nearly matched that mistake when Kay Felder lost the ensuing inbounds pass and the Knicks moved for an easy transition layup, fortunately, K.J. McDaniels was there to save the day.

McDaniels finished with a monster game even if he didn’t stand out in the scoring margin. On top of the game-sealing block, he had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds but his biggest impact was felt defensively where he finished with five blocks including the game sealer. His energy on both ends gave the Knicks problems all night and his impact was significant.

The Drive also got an unexpected lift from Zeke Upshaw off the bench who went four for four from deep to get 12 points.

In the end, two-way players Kay Felder and Reggie Hearn were the offensive drivers down the stretch. Both players were quiet in the first half, with Felder scoring six and Hearn two, but they asserted themselves in the clutch with Hearn finishing with 16 and Felder 18. Both players made big plays in the clutch down the stretch, with Hearn forcing and winning a jump ball in the closing moments.

It was an especially impressive victory given that the game was played in Westchester’s style the entire night. The Knicks prefer a slow, defensive struggle and that is exactly what this was. That the Drive were able to beat them at their own game was impressive.

 

This win put the Drive up to fifth in the conference and they remain a game behind the division-leading Fort Wayne Mad Ants. The Drive will be off until they travel to Chicago to play the Windy City Bulls on Tuesday before finishing out the season with two home games. While the Knicks will be off until next Wednesday.

Triple threat:

  1. Landry Nnoko had a quieter night largely as a result of the Knicks actually possessing some size up front. Last two games he was clearly the biggest guy on the floor, not so in this one.
  2. The Knicks bench was very talkative the entire game. There was some significant back and forth between them and Kay Felder.
  3. The Knicks managed the rare achievement of shooting better from deep than they did overall from the field.

(Feature Image: Brent Jensen/Palace of Pistons)

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