The Grand Rapids Drive welcomed three Detroit Pistons assignees to their lineup on Saturday night, but it wasn’t enough as the Westchester Knicks came back from an early 15-point deficit and won 117-108 in front of a record non-school day crowd of 2,483 fans in White Plains, NY.
After getting out to a 12-3 start within the first four minutes behind Pistons’ assignee Henry Ellenson’s three triples, the Drive let their foot off the gas and allowed the Knicks a chance at a comeback. Ellenson, who had 5 first half threes (21 points, 7-of-10 FG, 5-of-6 3FG before halftime), and Darrun Hilliard (10 points) helped the Drive to a 15-point lead in the first quarter, but no one else had more than 4 points at the half. The Knicks took a short-lived 22-21 lead at one point, but the Drive went to the bench with Jordan Crawford and Kevin Murphy and found themselves with a 25-22 advantage after the first quarter.
After holding the Knicks scoreless for the first three minutes in the third, the Drive failed to curtail the scoring. They watched Westchester build their own huge lead of 23 points, a 38-point turnaround, at 83-61 when Crawford was called for a technical foul at 1:32 of the third for arguing a common foul call. Crawford’s layup with 0.7 seconds left in the quarter brought GR back within 19, but the Drive only scored 16 points in the third.
Crawford and Murphy each hit 3’s early in the fourth and GR was within 90-75 at 9:47 mark, 98-87 with 6:47 and 105-95 at 2:56. But every time the Drive got within reach, the Knicks would press the button and find a bucket on the offensive end of the floor. GR fell back to 113-106 with 43.3 seconds left but kept the pressure on late, even knowing the eventual outcome would not be the W they were seeking to start the weekend. The Drive scored a season-high tying 43 points in the final 12 minutes in their comeback bid.
Ellenson would end the night with 29 points and nine rebounds while Hilliard added 28 points. Michael Gbinije, another Pistons’ assignee, had only five points. Ray McCallum, the highest ranked NBA prospect on the Drive’s roster, added 13 points and 10 assists.
Damien Inglis scored 28 points and Von Wafer added 25 to lead the Knicks.
The Drive will travel to Delaware for a game on Monday before returning to the friendly confines of the DeltaPlex Arena on Wednesday, Feb. 1 when the Knicks visit Beer City, USA.