The Grand Rapids Drive (4-6) are stuck in traffic. They’ve been there for three weeks.
After a win over the Westchester Knicks to move the team to 4-0 for the first time in franchise history, the Drive seem to be stuck in neutral. Friday night, the Sioux Falls Skyforce (4-4) beat the Drive 121-116 handing Grand Rapids their sixth straight loss.
In the game against the Charge, the Drive challenged a possession call in overtime but without a timeout to do so, were charged a technical foul. The subsequent free-throw (by John Holland) and possession (Marcus Thornton was fouled shooting a three and hit all free throws) proved to be the game-winning plays for Canton.
Holland scored 33 points and Thornton added 20 for Canton. Dwight Buycks led the Drive with 33 points, seven rebounds and five assists in the loss. This was the fourth straight loss for Grand Rapids.
Tuesday night, the Blue arrived at the DeltaPlex only to find out that the Detroit Pistons had assigned forward Henry Ellenson to the Drive for the night. Unimpressed, OKC got off to a hot start behind Chris Wright‘s 13 points and led 35-28 after the first quarter. Wright had 20 by the half and the Blue led 63-59.
Ellenson led the Drive’s comeback in the second half, getting the team within five points late in the game, but it wouldn’t be enough. Daniel Hamilton, an OKC Thunder two-way contract player, hit two key baskets late to seal the victory.
Ellenson led the Drive with 31 points. Wright led the Blue with 26, Hamilton nearly had a triple-double with 20, 11 rebounds and nine assists, and Bryce Alford finished with 21 points.
On Black Friday, the Drive welcomed the former University of Michigan standout Derrick Walton, Jr. and the Skyforce to Beer City, USA. Hoping to end their five-game losing streak, the Drive fought hard in the first quarter but the Skyforce led 24-20 after the first quarter. Grand Rapids sparked a fire from deep in the second quarter as Zeke Upshaw hit four three-pointers and led the Drive to a 41-point effort, the biggest output of the season. The Drive led 61-53 at the half.
Grand Rapids kept up the hard work in the third quarter and at one point built a 14-point lead. Sioux Falls, though, wouldn’t go away. Their persistence in the paint and on the boards helped them reclaim the lead after trailing by eight entering the fourth quarter.
Tony Mitchell owned the final 12 minutes scoring 23 of his game-high 33 points in the fourth. Grand Rapids scored 20. Walton Jr. added 23 points and 10 rebounds for Sioux Falls as all five starters scored in double-figures.
Jamel Morris led the Drive in scoring for the first time, finishing with 21 points. Landry Nnoko contributed 19 points and 11 rebounds while Dwight Buycks finished with 17 points. Upshaw finished with 15 points.
Maybe a trip north of the border can get this team back in the driver’s seat. Grand Rapids returns to the court when they face off with Raptors 905 at the Hershey Center at 2 p.m. Sunday.