Drive finish season's first half with 18-point victory over Red Claws

The Grand Rapids Drive (19-17) finished out the first half of the NBA D-League season with their seventh victory in the last eight games on Sunday afternoon as they defeated the Maine Red Claws (22-13) on the road by a 97-79 final.

After the Detroit Pistons recalled Henry Ellenson and Michael Gbinije back to the parent club the previous day, the Drive’s two leading scorers, Jordan Crawford and Kevin Murphy, also did not play.

Grand Rapids led the entire game. Ahead by 12 by the end of the first quarter, they never looked back.

Marcus Simmons scored 19 points to lead the Drive, Trey Freeman had 18 points and eight assists, and Chris Horton had 15 points and nine rebounds while Ramon Harris also provided 15 points.

The Drive had one of their best defensive performances of the season, holding the Red Claws to 79 points when every previous opponent this season had scored at least 87, and they had not held a team to under 100 points since Dec. 30. They surrendered just 37 points after halftime.

Abdel Nader was a bright spot for Maine with 19 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Ryan Kelly also scored 19 points, pulling down eight rebounds as well.

Grand Rapids was able to attempt 97 field goals while the Red Claws hoisted just 72, and Maine could not overcome this discrepancy at the free-throw line either as they had just 14 attempts from the charity stripe. The Drive only turned the ball over five times and five players had at least two steals.

Maine piled up 11 blocked shots while the Drive failed to record any, but the Drive out-rebounded the Red Claws 51-41 and more than doubled the Red Claws’ number of field goal attempts in the paint.

The Drive’s first game after the All-Star break will be hosting Long Island on Feb. 22. The Red Claws have one more game before the break – Feb. 14 against the 87ers on the road.