The Grand Rapids Drive were back in action against the Wisconsin Herd, affiliates of the Milwaukee Bucks, at the DeltaPlex Arena in Walker Michigan on Wednesday night. The Drive pulled away with a dominant 3rd quarter but allowed the Herd to get back into the game at the end but still held on for a close victory.
— Grand Rapids Drive (@grdrive) November 22, 2018
Grand Rapids was without both Henry Ellenson and Khyri Thomas, both of whom had played in all their games prior to this, Bruce Brown was also recalled after playing in the Drive’s last two games. On top of that, Zach Lofton remained out of the lineup in the concussion protocol.
It was an opportunity for players to get extra playing time and extra chances, and many made the best of it as the Drive had a balanced offensive approach. Center Johnny Hamilton led the way with 21 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, and 6(!) blocked shots.
Johnny Hamilton (@johnny_tall) led the @grdrive to victory on Wednesday evening, posting CAREER-HIGHS in PTS (21), REB (13), BLK (6) and AST (4)! 👏👏👏@HokiesMBB ➡️ @UTA_Basketball ↗️ @grdrive pic.twitter.com/X2WTvFJH7d
— NBA G League (@nbagleague) November 22, 2018
Grand Rapids starting wings were also highly impressive. Michael Bethea Jr scored 19 points, and Scottie Lindsey scored 18. With point guard Speedy Smith showing the same game he had last season by scoring 10 points and dishing 12 assists.
The Drive dominated the 3rd quarter, outscoring Wisconsin 38-23, and it was largely on the back of spread pick and rolls with Speedy Smith as the ball-handler. Whether it lobs to Johnny Hamilton for dunks or kick-outs to open shooters for threes, Smith and the Drive offense tore apart the Herd defense in the quarter. I asked Grand Rapids head coach Ryan Krueger about the 3rd quarter offense and he gave credit to the point guards.
Drive head coach Ryan Krueger on the 114-112 victory over the Herd. pic.twitter.com/eqfQjTWD6K
— Joe Truck (@Joe_Truck) November 22, 2018
The night saw the first minutes of the season for Jovan Mooring, who was impressive by scoring 14 points with a pair of assists in just 15 minutes of play.
The one disappointment was perhaps Keenan Evans. The Pistons two-way player has not been overly productive, but he’s been highly efficient this season. Given the presence of other Pistons players on the roster, it was understandable that his volume wouldn’t be so high. But tonight was an opportunity for him to really shine, and he managed just 13 points and 3 assists. Although he did make clutch free-throws at the end of the game. In the above tweet, I also asked about Evans, and Krueger admitted to still working on trying to find the best situations to use the talented guard.
The Victory puts the Drive over .500 for the season at 4-3, with their next game coming on Saturday at home against the Long Island Nets.