Ellenson, Drive, Dominate in Home Opener.
The Grand Rapids Drive, playing in their second game of the season and home opener, ran away from the Windy City Bulls, 125 – 108. Both teams were on the second night of a back to back, with the Drive dropping their opener in Erie.
— Grand Rapids Drive (@grdrive) November 4, 2018
Grand Rapids jumped out to a big lead in the first quarter. The Bulls aggressive defensive scheme, which attempted to trap ball-handlers, was slow and ill-executed. The Drive made easy work of it to pass around to open shooters and Detroit Pistons rookie and 2nd round draft pick Khyri Thomas scored 12 points, all from deep, in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Bulls got back into the game, having been down by 19 at one point, they tied the game and went into the half down by just 2 points. The Bulls defense tightened up significantly and the Drive led 59-57 at the half.
The Drive came out and put their foot on the throat in the second half, especially Henry Ellenson. The Drive got out into transition, often led by the Pistons’ 3rd-year pro, and head-coach Ryan Krueger made the necessary adjustments to combat the aggresive defense. After the game Krueger said that they worked to get the ball to the weak-side after setting up the Bulls defense on the other side, it resulted in the Bulls having to close-out onto good shooters and they simply couldn’t do it.
Coach Ryan on the Drive victory tonight. I will collect my Oscar for camera work later. pic.twitter.com/6jDgEBcfUS
— Joe Truck (@Joe_Truck) November 4, 2018
The Drive went into the 4th quarter up 94-77 and never looked back the rest of the way. It never got closer than double-digits and Ellenson’s onslaught never stopped the entire game.
Grand Rapids was certainly fortunate to have a very complete roster in this game, with both two-way players Keenan Evans and Zach Lofton as well as a pair of Pistons players, Khyri Thomas and Henry Ellenson, with the team as well.
Evans had some foul trouble which limited him to just 9 points in 23 minutes, although coach Krueger said that Evans is not limited by any of the nagging injuries he delt with this Summer.
Khyri Thomas scored 17 points and went 4-6 from deep (and drew a foul on one of his long-guns) and played great defense. Two-way player Zach Lofton was highly aggressive, leading the team with 16 attempts from the field to score his 21 points.
The man of the night, however, was Ellenson. He started off quietly but got going as the night went on and finished with 29 points, 15 rebounds, and a pair of assists. The most impressive thing is that he scored those 29 points by shooting 9-12 from the field and 8-9 from the line. That is 16 shot equivalents.
Overall it is a good home-opener for the Drive. Other than slipping up in the second quarter a bit, they mostly dominated the game in every phase and played the way they want to play.
The Drive will be off until Wednesday when they will be in Chicago to play these same Bulls.