Brandon Jennings made his long awaited return to the basketball court and Reggie Bullock and Darrun Hilliard led the way for the Grand Rapids Drive Saturday night at the DeltaPlex in front of a packed house of 6,240 fans.
Beer City, USA welcomed the three Pistons’ assignees to the lineup in a 130-104 win over the Iowa Energy, with Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy and stars Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond in attendance sitting courtside.
Jennings, playing in his first game since injuring his Achilles on Jan. 24, started things off quickly with a fastbreak alley-oop off the backboard to Devin Ebanks in the game’s first minute. The Pistons’ guard recorded 11 points and 12 assists on 4-of-9 shooting(including two 3-pointers) in 27 minutes. Drive coach Otis Smith played Jennings the first six-plus minutes of each quarter to keep him fresh. Jennings wowed the crowd as he and Energy guard Lazeric Jones battled throughout the game, even jawing a bit during the second half.
Bullock, playing his first game for the Drive, scored 29 points to lead the way, including a franchise record six 3-pointers. Hilliard, back with the Drive for the third game this season, scored 23 points. Xavier Ford (12), Dahntay Jones(12) and Branden Dawson(10) also scored in double-digits for Grand Rapids. The Drive are now 6-8 on the season.
Terry Whisnant hit seven 3-pointers(one shy of Iowa’s franchise record) and scored 22 points to lead four Iowa players who had 20 or more points. Jones(20/10a) and Alex Stepheson(20/13r) each had double-doubles and Joel Wright scored 21 points. The loss moves the Energy, the NBA affiliate of the Memphis Grizzlies, to 7-6.
The Drive wore custom Perrigo jerseys on yet another Jersey Takeover Night. This time the proceeds of the 50/50 raffle and the auction of the game-worn jerseys are going to benefit the children at D. A. Blodgett – St. John’s home here in Grand Rapids to help provide gifts for those children affected by abuse and neglect.
Grand Rapids continues its three-game home stand on Dec. 23 against the Canton Charge at 7 p.m.