(Grand Rapids Drive News Release)
GRAND RAPIDS – Feb 25, 2017 – The Rio Grande Valley Vipers (23-14) overcame a 14-point deficit to pour it on the fourth quarter and beat the Grand Rapids Drive (20-18) on the road on Saturday night. The final was 136-122 as the Vipers dropped 48 points in the fourth quarter to just 27 for the Drive.
The Drive came into the game as the hottest team in the D-League, having won eight of their last nine, and they looked on their way to adding to that as they were in control for the majority of the game. But things got out of hand quickly in the fourth and Rio Grande Valley found a gear the Drive just could not match.
The Vipers had struggled with some sluggish play earlier in the game, and were constantly in conversation with the officials early in the game, racking up an impressive nine technical fouls in the game. But this may have fired them up, as by the end of the game nothing was stopping them from getting this win.
Kyle Wiltjer had a career night for the Vipers, pouring in 40 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. He made seven three-pointer on 19 attempts, helping Rio Grande Valley hoist 43 attempts as a team (both teams were 15-of-43 from three). Wiltjer’s 40 points was the largest point total the Drive have surrendered to an individual player this season, the previous tally being 33 by Abdel Nader in the Drive’s third game of the year.
Darius Morris and JP Tokoto scored 27 points apiece for the Vipers as well, and both had seven rebounds as well. They turned the ball over nine times as a team versus 20 turnovers by the Drive.
The Drive had the benefit of three NBA assignees and re-acquiring Ray McCallum after the expiration of his ten-day contract with the Charlotte Hornets earlier that day. But it was Kevin Murphy who led the way for Grand Rapids with 31 points off the bench. Darrun Hilliard added 19 points and seven rebounds, Henry Ellenson had 16 points and eight boards, and Jordan Crawford handed out 10 assists to go with 12 points and five rebounds.
The Drive will look to make this fourth quarter just a blip on the radar when they play the Fort Wayne Mad Ants at home on March 1 for their next game. The Vipers play Raptors 905 on the road on Feb. 27 before getting a break until March 6 after that.