A last-minute comeback attempt by the Grand Rapids Drive (8-9) fell just short and the Maine Red Claws (10-6) snapped a three-game losing streak on Friday night at the DeltaPlex, winning by a 106-104 final.
The Drive had won four of their last five, but dropped their second game in a row. Maine pulled ahead by eight in the second quarter and kept the lead in that range until the final 40 seconds of the game, where the Drive came flying back.
Grand Rapids scored the game’s final nine points after trailing 106-95, and had a chance to tie at the final buzzer after a fourth consecutive defensive stop, but Jordan Crawford’s layup attempt did not make it over the front rim, and Chris Horton’s late follow did not fall.
The Red Claws entered the game with four players averaging at least 16 points per game, and they continued to show off that balanced scoring attack. Nine players scored at least seven points, led by 21 from Jalen Jones and 17 from Marcus Georges-Hunt.
Ray McCallum was the star performer for the Drive, recording just the second triple-double in franchise history (Nate Wolters owning the first in 2014-15). He scored 23 points with 12 rebounds and 11 assists, tying his season high in assists and setting a new season high in rebounds. Kevin Murphy used an 11-of-13 performance at the free-throw line to score 27 points despite going just 6-of-23 from the field. Crawford chipped in 21 points off the bench.
The lead changed hands 13 times in the first 17 minutes before the Red Claws went on an 8-2 run to go up 48-40. They carried that into a 56-49 halftime advantage, which they kept around that margin until late in the fourth. Both teams struggled offensively in the fourth quarter, and the Drive could not string together baskets and stops until the very last minute.
In a matchup between the two top three-point shooting teams in the D-League, the volume was there but the efficiency lagged behind. Maine shot 38 attempts and 34 percent, and the Drive had 31 attempts at 32 percent. The Drive were also under 40 percent from the field as a team.
Both teams were great from the free throw line and also earned plenty of trips there, as the Red Claws were 25-of-30 and the Drive 26-of-31. The Drive only turned the ball over 11 times and won the battle on the offensive glass by getting 11 rebounds on that end, but they could not quite make up for the difference in efficiency.
The Drive’s next game is on Dec. 28 at Fort Wayne before returning home against Greensboro on Dec. 30. The Red Claws will take on Erie on the road on Dec. 27.