BeerCityHoops GR Drive

Will Drive return to winning ways after two straight losses?

The Grand Rapids Drive (4-2) opened the season with four straight victories, the first three (Erie, Raptors, Windy City) of them at home and a road win (Westchester). Now, they’ve lost their last two (Long Island, Lakeland) on the road.

The Drive can put an end to their losing streak and get back in the win column on Thursday when they visit the Maine Red Claws. The Detroit Pistons’ affiliate Drive host the Boston Celtics’ affiliate while their  parent clubs race for position atop the NBA’s Eastern Conference standings.

Dwight Buycks is leading the way for the Drive this season, he’s at the top in scoring at 24.5 points per game and assists at 4.3. Landy Nnoko leads Grand Rapids in rebounding at 10.7 per game. Pistons assignees Henry Ellenson (28 points) and Luke Kennard (26 points) have also seen action, but only in one game so far this season. Luis Montero (13.8 ppg), Nnoko (13.8 ppg) and Derek Willis (12.7 ppg) are also scoring in double figures for Grand Rapids.

After getting out to a 3-0 start at the DeltaPlex here in Beer City, USA, Grand Rapids continued the streak by visiting the Westchester Knicks (NY Knicks) on Friday and coming away with a 97-95 victory. After trailing by as many as 24 points, the Drive had a huge 4th quarter, including a 27-8 run. A tip-in by Nnoko off a missed shot from Kenneth Smith at the the buzzer led to the Grand Rapids win. Buycks led the Drive with 30 points on 11-of-19 shooting and Nnoko added 18 points and 17 rebounds.

On Sunday afternoon, the Drive fell by two to the Long Island Nets (Brooklyn) 93-91. Buycks again led the charge for the Drive with a team-high 22 points, while Nnoko registered a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Newcomer Bronson Koenig played 15 minutes. He scored 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Buycks was 7-of-22 from the field.

Tuesday night, Grand Rapids made their first visit to the new Orlando Magic-affiliate, Lakeland Magic. Jamel Artis led the Magic to a victory with 32 points. Grand Rapids led lat ein the game, but a 15-4 run by the hosts led to their eventual win. Buycks scored a season-high 33 points. Willis added 20 points and 11 rebounds. Nnoko had 14 points and 11 rebounds.

If coach Robert Werdann can find a way to get Buycks the ball and keep the Drive within striking distance on the boards, there’s no reason to think they won’t come away with their 5th victory of the year before the weekend. The Drive have a chance to get to 7-2 before the holiday break.

The Drive make the long trip to Portland, ME to face off with the Red Claws on Thursday night. They’ll return home to the DeltaPlex on Saturday when they host the Canton Charge.


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