LAKELAND, Fla. — The Lakeland Magic (4-1) overcame a seven-point deficit with five minutes left to beat the Grand Rapids Drive (4-2) at home on Tuesday night by a 96-91 final. The Magic outscored the Drive 15-4 to end the game after trailing 87-80 with 5:01 left in the contest.
Jamel Artis scored 14 points in the fourth quarter for the Magic and finished with 32 points, seven rebounds and five assists, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range. Rodney Purvis added 17 points and Troy Caupain and Khem Birch were all over the stat sheet as well. Caupain had 14 points, 13 rebounds and five assists while Birch provided 11 points, nine rebounds, three steals and four blocks.
Dwight Buycks led Grand Rapids in scoring for the fourth consecutive game, scoring a season-high 33 points with six assists, also a season high. Derek Willis and Landry Nnoko each had double-doubles for the Drive, Nnoko’s being his third in a row. Willis had 20 points and 11 boards while Nnoko had 14 and 11. The duo combined for 11 offensive rebounds.
The two teams were in lockstep for the entire first half, both scoring 24 points in the fourth quarter and 26 in the second. The Drive, fresh off dropping their first game of the season in close fashion to Westchester, took control a bit in the third as they held the Magic to just 19 points and headed into the fourth with a five-point advantage. Combined with their solid start to the fourth it looked like they had the game sealed, but Lakeland came charging back with the rally to win it.
Artis’ fourth-quarter scoring was no doubt key to the Magic’s win, but so was their defensive intensity in the fourth. They held the Drive scoreless for over three minutes after falling behind by seven, and altogether held Grand Rapids to 16 fourth-quarter points, a season low by five points for a dangerous fourth-quarter offense that has registered three big comebacks in the final frame already this season.
The Drive registered a season-high 53 rebounds, including 18 on the offensive side of the ball, to a tamer 45 and 11 for Lakeland. However, the Drive needed to do this to stay in the game as their shots were not falling. Their 36 percent shooting from the field was easily their worst number of the season, and although Lakeland managed to hit just seven three-pointers they shot a much healthier 44 percent from the field.