Grand Rapids Drive 90, Raptors 905 91 | Box Score
Two-ways: Kalin Lucas, Isaiah Whitehead (Drive), Jordan Loyd (905),
Assignees: Chris Boucher, Malcolm Miller (905)
Jordan Loyd made a floater with 11.5 seconds left in overtime to give the 905 the lead, then Grand Rapids Drive forward Todd Withers missed a wide open three pointer near the horn to seal an incredibly dramatic first round playoff game. This one-point thriller featured five lead changes in the two-minute overtime period, and an 8-0 run by the Drive to tie it in late in the fourth quarter, among a number of other wild sequences. Here’s a sampling of quotes to illustate how intense it was to be on the floor in this one-game elimination format:
“The game was kind of like out of a movie, man. Every possession was like do or die,” – 905 guard Jordan Loyd.
“Everybody’s playing like it’s their last chance,” 905 centre Chris Boucher.
“Guys would have been devastated in that room if we’d lost it,” – 905 Head Coach Jama Mahlalela.
Loyd led the 905 in scoring and assists with 18 and seven respectively. which is normal. Less normal was the 6’4 guard leading the team in rebounding, with 15.
“It’s this tenacious… this drive Loyd brings to the basketball game,” Mahlalela said post game. “To hunt down the loose balls, to get the extra effort, to take a charge and get 15 rebounds today. Just super elite in all the little things.”
Chris Boucher put up his first career triple double via the rare combination of points (12), rebounds (12) and and blocks (10!). Boucher struggled mightily from the field, going 6-for-20, but he scored eight critical points in the fourth quarter and overtime, including a momentum-shifting put back dunk in the latter stages of the fourth quarter.
Malcolm Miller was the only 905 starter to shoot anywhere close to 50%, going 5-for-11 from the field, including 4-for-9 from three point range.
The Drive were led by two-way guard Kalin Lucas and eight-year NBA vet Marcus Thornton, who scored 20 points each. Two-way forward Isaiah Whitehead added 17.
The 905 nearly lost their foothold on the game from the opening tip, shooting 4-for-24 from the field, and 2-for-12 from three in the first quarter. Compounding the first frame debacle – Derek Cooke Jr. missed a breakaway dunk, Boucher was held scoreless, and the team committed six turnovers. Whitehead scored 10 in the frame for Grand Rapids, punctuated by a pretty foul line jumper followed by him proclaiming to his bench that “They can’t f***ing guard me.” The 905 trailed 25-12 after one, and they looked tight.
But the team seemed to play with a lot less fear in the second. Wade Baldwin persistently attacked the rim, and drilled a pair of threes. Loyd was aggressive as well, scoring seven in the quarter, while handing out three assists. The defence was also much more disciplined, while adding a little zone wrinkle to throw the Rapids off midway through the quarter. The 905 limited Grand Rapids to 6-for-18 in the frame, outscoring them by 11 to trail by two at the break. After an evenly played third quarter, the drama ensued, as noted above.
The 905 travel to Long Island to face the Nets in the second round. Just like Tuesday, the format is single elimination.
- 905 Two-Way Notes
- Jordan Loyd – a Kyle Lowry-like playoff performance, in that he wasn’t efficient, but had a huge (positive) effect on the game. In overtime, outside of hitting the game winner, Loyd created two other baskets by pushing in transition. On one fast break he missed a layup, but drew multiple defenders to him, which allowed Boucher to put back a layup. After another stop Loyd pushed and delivered a great assist to Boucher for another layup. In a game where both teams shot around 35%, his team-leading seven assists were that much more crucial.
- “The intensity was amazing,” Loyd said. “You live to play for these type of games.”
- 905 Assignment Notes
- Chris Boucher – puts up his lowest scoring output of the season and his most inefficient, but his impact on defence was as big as his wingspan is long (which is very). Boucher posted 10 blocks, and an untold number of great contests on bigs and guards he had to switch onto in pick and rolls. During the second quarter Boucher was visibly frustrated; he simply couldn’t make a shot. But Mahlalela brought him aside and gave him a powerful message. “He just told me, you’re doing a lot of the things that you don’t see, but it’s making us win this game. When he said that, I think it was an eye-opener for what I was doing,” Boucher said. “Obviously I was thinking about my shot a lot, but when he said that, it made me realize that if we don’t win, I won’t get a chance to retaliate, or to play again, so for me it was just a way to wake up, give us another chance to play, and on a night like that, if we would have lost, it would have been worse.”
- Malcolm Miller – while his team was faltering in the first quarter, Miller was a steady, calming force, playing perfect positional defence and hitting a couple threes to keep the game from getting out of hand. While his four three pointers were critical, Miller’s biggest play may have come in the fourth quarter when he stopped a one on one fast break against Whitehead. The forward came into the lane with a full head of steam, but Miller was able to provide a great contest without fouling, and Whitehead’s layup rimmed out.
- Drive Two-Way Notes
- Kalin Lucas – a very crafty point guard. Lucas may have only shot 8-for-22, but he held the 905 defence on a string the entire game. The Drive two-way is a straight shotmaker; in the second quarter he dropped a 30 footer at the shot clock buzzer, and scored two And-1s in the paint to help Grand Rapids keep the lead heading into half time. In the second half he made a few very difficult leaners with Baldwin draped all over him, including the penultimate basket that put the Drive up 90-89. After Loyd scored, Lucas set up Withers with the wide open three that would have won Grand Rapids the game.
- Other Drive Notes
- Marcus Thornton – nearly saved the Drive’s season single handedly in the fourth. Not only did he drill two consecutive three pointers to erase a six point deficit with 1:36 left in regulation, but he had four steals in the fourth quarter alone. Other than his grizzled exterior you could tell Thornton was the most experienced player on the floor because of his poise, tenacity on defence, and lack of hesitation to take the big shot.