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Drive keep slim playoff hopes alive with win over Swarm

The Grand Rapids Drive pulled out a 108-103 victory over the Greensboro Swarm on Saturday night to keep their playoff hopes alive. Kevin Murphy scored 30 points and Lorenzo Brown added 26 points as the Drive (22-22) moved back to the .500 mark.

Playing without Jordan Crawford, who recently signed an NBA contract with the New Orleans Pelicans, Murphy played a game-high 41 minutes and made 15 of 17 free throws in the win.

The Drive pulled ahead early, taking a 19-7 lead just seven minutes into the game. The lead was 29-20 after the first quarter. Grand Rapids maintained their lead throughout the second quarter, seeing Greensboro reduce the deficit to as little as four points on two different occasions, and found themselves up by seven, 56-49, at the half.

Grand Rapids built the lead to as many as 14 points after the break but Greensboro would get within nine, 86-77 , as the third quarter came to an end.

In the fourth, the Swarm fought back to tie the game at 97-97 on a Perry Ellis three-pointer with just 3:22 left on the clock. Ramon Harris hit a three of his own to put Grand Rapids up by three, Murphy scored the next three points and Brown added a bucket. Cat Barber kept the Swarm close and Damien Wilkins hit two free throws to make the score 105-103 with under a minute left. Brown was called for an offensive foul on an inbounds play, giving the Swarm a chance to tie with 11.6 seconds left, but he would come up big on the defensive end forcing Barber into a tough shot, collecting the rebound and getting fouled with 2.2 seconds left. Wilkins was then charged with a technical foul for leaving the court near the Swarm bench and slamming a water bottle onto the floor in disgust of the effort on the other end. Murphy made the technical foul free throw and Brown hit both of his from the charity stripe as Grand Rapids escaped with the win.

Wilkins scored 28 points for the the Swarm (16-29), Rasheed Sulaimon added 26 points and Ellis finished with 23 points, 21 in the second half.

With the win, the Drive stayed in playoff contention just four games behind the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (26-18), who also won on Saturday. The Drive have an uphill battle to climb, but can make the playoffs because of it. They’ll host the division-leading Raptors 905 (33-11) on Wednesday, March 22 at the DeltaPlex and face off with the Mad Ants in a back-to-back home-and-home matchup on Friday and Saturday of next week. In the final week of the regular season, Grand Rapids will host the Maine Red Calws (27-17) in a makeup school day game on Tuesday (3/28), travel to NY on Thursday to face the Westchester Knicks (17-26) (the only team left on the schedule GR leads in the standings) and finish up by hosting the Canton Charge (28-18) on Friday, March 31.

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