Smith's Late Heroics Lift Drive over Charge
CANTON - The Grand Rapids Drive (8-12) squeaked out a close victory on Thursday night on the road against the Canton Charge (7-11), pulling ahead in the final seconds to win 122-117. Speedy Smith made the go-ahead layup to put the Drive up one, secured the defensive rebound of a Canton missed three-pointer, and then hit two free throws. The Drive then forced a five-second violation as the Charge tried to inbound the ball to attempt the game-tying three, giving the visitors the win.
Two-way player Keenan Evans had a season-high 30 points (hitting 5-of-9 threes) to lead the Drive in scoring, and Johnny Hamilton also starred with 27 points, seven rebounds, and four blocks, shooting 11-of-14 from the floor. Smith was also a huge factor, as he finished with 21 points, seven rebounds, 10 assists, and tied a franchise record with six steals. Marcus Thornton also scored 19 points for the Drive and led the team with a plus-21 plus-minus in 31 minutes.
For the Charge, Levi Randolph was the biggest offensive force with 27 points, knocking down 12 of his 18 field goal attempts. Sir'Dominic Pointer with 20 points and Bonzie Colson with 17 were the other big scorers for Canton.
Grand Rapids was in control early, but the Charge erased their relatively small first-quarter lead and mostly clung to a small lead for the majority of the game. Neither team managed an advantage larger than 10 points the entire night and the lead changed 14 times in total.
Despite struggling with efficiency offensively during the G League Showcase and a decent portion of the season, the Drive were 45-of-85 from the floor (53 percent) and also tied a season high by making 15 threes at a 42 percent clip. The Charge were actually even better from deep, as they hit 17-of-30 three-point attempts for a blistering 57 percent clip. In such a close game, the Drive's clutch free-throw shooting made a big difference, as they missed just two of their 19 attempts.
The Drive will look to pick up another road win when they are in action next against the Wisconsin Herd on Saturday night. Canton is also playing their next game Saturday, on the road against the Oklahoma City Blue.
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