Returning from their appearances at NBA All-Star Weekend, Kevin Murphy and Jordan Crawford led the Grand Rapids Drive as the team returned to the court on Wednesday night in a 118-106 win over the Long Island Nets to win their eighth game in the last nine and extend the Drive’s home winning streak to eight games.
The Drive welcomed the return of Detroit Pistons’ assignees Henry Ellenson and Michael Gbinije and got out to a quick start, pushing the ball up the court like late risers through morning rush hour traffic. With every miss by the Nets, the drive were off and running on the fast break with Wes Unseld-like outlet passes and finishing moves in the mold of Allen Iverson. The Drive held a 39-36 lead at the end of the first quarter, with Murphy scoring nine points and Crawford and Nikola Jovanovic each scoring eight.
It was more of the Kevin Murphy Show in the second quarter as the 6-foot-6 guard followed up his stellar first quarter with 11 points in the second, pushing the Drive to 70 first half points and a six point lead heading into the locker room.
But the Nets put together a run coming out of the break and took a three point lead before Grand Rapids found their rhythm and built the lead back to 98-91 as Murphy added to his total, reaching 28 points through three quarters.
In the fourth, Grand Rapids held the Nets to only 15 points to come away with the win on Coaches vs. Cancer Night. Trey Freeman, Chris Anderson and Jovanovic all found the path to 10 points each as Ellenson (2-12 FG, 4 points) and Gbinije (2-8 FG, 7 points) struggled on the offensive end of the floor. The Drive made only 4 of 26 three-point field goals.
Long Island had six players in double figures, led by JJ Moore (25 points) and Cliff Alexander (20 points).