GUARD TRIO HELPS THE DRIVE ESCAPE SWARM
Since the departure of Jordan Crawford to the New Orleans Pelicans, the Grand Rapids Drive (22-22) have relied heavily on Ray McCallum, Kevin Murphy and the recently-acquired Lorenzo Brown. The three combined for 77 points on Saturday night as the Drive held off the Greensboro Swarm (16-29) on the road by a 108-103 final score.
The Drive led for the majority of the game, but the Swarm made it interesting by outscoring Grand Rapids 26-19 to open the fourth quarter to pull within two points twice during the final minute, but Cat Barber was unable to draw the foul or convert the field goal attempt with three seconds remaining, Brown got the rebound and Murphy sank the ensuing technical free throw.
Murphy lived at the line on Saturday night for the Drive that has struggled to draw free-throw attempts for the majority of the season. He scored 30 points with seven rebounds on 15-of-17 shooting from the line, picking up over half of the Drive’s 26 attempts at the charity stripe. The 15 makes was a season high for a Grand Rapids player. Brown excelled for a fifth straight game since getting signed from China, scoring 26 points with nine rebounds and six assists. McCallum added 21 points.
Grand Rapids struggled for the second consecutive game to get any offense from their bench, as their bench scored 12 points after the Erie BayHawks outscored the Drive bench 78-7 in Grand Rapids’ previous game. Aside from the Drive’s big three, Ramon Harris was the only other player in double figures.
The Swarm, meanwhile, got 28 points, 17 rebounds and five assists from Damien Wilkins off their bench. Wilkins stayed hot after pouring in 36 points off the bench in the team’s last game, a win over the Canton Charge. Rasheed Sulaimon also chipped in 26 points and six assists for Greensboro and Perry Ellis had 23 points.
Holding a 56-49 halftime lead and a 29-20 first quarter lead, the Drive came out rested after a week-long break thanks to the rescheduling due to weather of their last game against the Maine Red Claws. They have now won two of three after previously struggling through a four-game losing streak.
The Drive return home for the first time in five games in their next contest, against Raptors 905 on March 22. The Swarm play on the road at Fort Wayne on March 21.