GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Austin Spurs (4-2) handed the Grand Rapids Drive (2-3) their third consecutive loss on Friday night, winning by a 119-106 score.
A balanced offensive game was the key to victory for the Spurs, as seven players registered double digits in scoring. Chieck Diallo, on assignment from the New Orleans Pelicans, led the way with 20 points and six rebounds, Jarrell Eddie added 18 points and Charles Garcia had 17 coming off the bench.
Kevin Murphy was again a bright spot for the Drive. He had 21 points at halftime and had already matched a Drive season high in three-pointers by halftime with four. He finished tied for a season high in points for a Drive player with 33. Ray McCallum, currently listed as the #1 prospect eligible for a call-up in the D-League by Prospect Watch, continued his strong play for the Drive with 19 points, five rebounds and seven assists.
Neither team was able to gain much separation early in the game. The lead changed hands 13 times in just the span of the first quarter, with the Drive leading 27-25 at the end of the first.
No lead was larger than three points until Garcia’s three-point play stretched Austin’s lead to five with ten minutes left in the half. The Spurs stretched the run with a 36-point second quarter, getting the lead up to ten. It stayed around that margin for much of the second, but the Drive started to rally with two minutes left and Ray McCallum cut the lead to five with a tough jumper on a fast break with one second remaining. The Spurs led 61-56 at halftime.
Grand Rapids kept the momentum up in the third quarter, taking the lead back early in the third, but it was short-lived as a three-point barrage by Austin helped them keep the Drive down at an 11-point deficit at the end of the third. The Spurs continued to shoot the ball well, sitting at an incredible 60 percent from the floor after three quarters. They finished the Drive off from there with a 27-25 fourth quarter.
With Nikola Jovanovic and Pat Forsythe inactive for the Drive and Henry Ellenson re-assigned to the Detroit Pistons, the tallest player on their active roster was 6-foot-8 Chris Horton. The Spurs weren’t able to use this to gain a rebounding advantage, but both their centers (Diallo and Garcia) were very effective and efficient. The two combined to shoot 15-of-23.
The Drive’s defense continued to struggle, as they allowed over 110 points for the fourth time in five games this season. Austin also avoided turnovers, committing only seven, and finished the game shooting 57 percent from the field and 44 percent from beyond the three-point line. The Drive shot 13-of-27 from three-point range, their best figure of the season, but it was not enough.
The Drive are in action again at Lincoln of Nov. 27, and the Spurs have a bit of a break before hosting the Greensboro Swarm on Dec. 2.