The Grand Rapids Drive (21-21) got back in the win column, and to the .500 mark, with a 119-98 win over the Erie Bayhawks (11-29) on Friday night. After a stretch where they won 8 of 9 games, the Drive had lost their last four in a row before last night’s matchup which sent Erie to its fifth consecutive loss.
With Detroit Pistons assignees Henry Ellenson and Michael Gbinije back in uniform for the team’s NBA D-League affiliate, the Drive revved up their engines and shot off the starting line like a John Force funny car on the drag strip, getting out to a 29-19 lead over the Bayhawks and Drive alum Branden Dawson. But, Erie hit three consecutive deep balls to get back within 29-28 before Ellenson hit a 30-footer to stretch the lead back to 32-28. Ellenson finished the first quarter with 12 points and Lorenzo Brown had 11 points for Grand Rapids as they led 34-28 on Mascot Night at the Erie Insurance Arena.
When Grand Rapids extended the lead to 11 points in the second quarter, the Bayhawks scored eight straight to get back within three at 51-48. The Drive held a 58-52 halftime lead.
Grand Rapids would keep the lead throughout the third quarter, eventually going on a 15-9 run over the final 4:26. The run started with an Ellenson tip in off a Chris Anderson missed putback. Anderson would follow that up a couple wide-open easy dunks. Ray McCallum would hit a three, drive the lane for a layup, went to the free throw line making three of four, and hit a left-handed layup at the buzzer to give Grand Rapids a 90-79 lead, matching their largest of the game to that point.
Following the break, the Drive opened the fourth with a 9-2 advantage pushing the lead to 18 points at 99-81 on a Ramon Harris three-pointer. Lorenzo Brown found Jeff Newberry with a lob dunk to stretch the lead to 20 at 101-81. Grand Rapids score 28 points in the first eight minutes of the fourth, but only two over the final four of the game.
Brown led all scorers with 27 points, McCallum added 26 of his own and Ellenson scored 22 on 9-of-15 shooting. Harris was the only other Drive player in double-digits with 11. The team shot 53% from the field (46-of-87) and 41% from behind the arc (11-of-27).
TJ Price led four Bayhawks in scoring double figures. He finished with 20 points.
These same two teams return to the same floor Saturday night at 7 p.m. EST in a rematch that is sure to be intense.