Thornton and Smith Lead Drive over Suns
GRAND RAPIDS - The Grand Rapids Drive (10-13) rallied for a home win over the Northern Arizona Suns (3- 24) on Thursday night, largely propelled by Marcus Thornton's 33 points, the most by a Drive player in a game this season. The Suns led by 19 at one point and seemed destined to snap their losing streak, but the Drive outscored them 35-20 in the fourth quarter to escape with the comeback victory. The final score was 107-101.
Aside from Thornton's 33, Speedy Smith scored 19 points with seven rebounds, 10 assists and six steals for the home team. Michael Bethea Jr. added 16 points and Johnny Hamilton had 11 points and 11 rebounds. Those four were the only Grand Rapids players that reached double figures on the night. Thornton, Smith and Bethea Jr. each recorded plus-minus figures of at least plus-16.
The Suns dropped their fourteenth straight game, but had some nice performances in the second game of a road back-to-back. Jawun Evans led the team with 20 points all from two-point range, going 10-of-13 from the floor on the night. George King added 18 points and six rebounds, and Retin Obasohan had a nice performance in just 23 minutes off the bench, finishing with 15 points, five rebounds and six assists.
One of the biggest factors in the win for the Drive was their presence on the offensive glass. They had 15 offensive rebounds to seven by the Suns, helping them hoist 87 field goal attempts as a team versus the 71 Northern Arizona managed. Another integral part of that difference was the Drive limiting their turnover count to 14 while the Suns had 23.
Despite the discrepancy, the Suns were in the lead for the majority of the game thanks to their offensive efficiency. They shot 49 percent from the floor and missed just two of their 23 free throw attempts. But a 19-9 run at the beginning of the fourth quarter by the Drive erased much of the hard work Northern Arizona put into the prior 36 minutes.
The next tilt for Grand Rapids will be their annual meeting with the Iowa Wolves, on the road on Sunday afternoon. The Suns will continue their trip East when they look for a win against the Maine Red Claws on Saturday.
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