The Memphis Hustle (14-2) suffered just its second defeat of the season in a 104-101 loss to the fourth-seeded Grand Rapids Drive Friday night, Dec. 20 at Mandalay Bay Convention Center. The Hustle, who entered the MGM Resorts NBA G League Winter Showcase Tournament as the top seed in the Championship Bracket, will face the second-seeded Wisconsin Herd (13-3) on Sunday, Dec. 22 at 8 p.m. Central time.
Memphis was unable to overcome a tough showing in a first half where the team committed more turnovers (12) than the entirety of its previous game (9) against Rio Grande Valley and allowed Grand Rapids to shoot 55.6 percent (20-36 FG) from the field. The Drive also knocked down seven of its first 10 three-point attempts. The Hustle trailed 59-47 at the break and by as many as 16.
The Hustle surged in the third and held the Drive to just 7-of-24 (.292) from the field in the period. Trailing 69-59 at the 6:49 mark, Memphis went on a 12-0 run over the next 3:13 to take its first lead since the game’s opening minutes. Dusty Hannahs punctuated the run with a traditional three-point play and a pull-up three-pointer on the next possession.
Memphis led by one entering the fourth quarter and led by as many as seven but couldn’t separate from the Drive. The teams traded blows in the final minutes before two Hannahs free throws gave Memphis a 100-97 lead with 1:22 left. Consecutive buckets by Grand Rapids gave them the lead for good as Josh Jackson’s three-point attempt fell short at the buzzer.
Yuta Watanabe set a new season-high with 26 points on 10-of-17 shooting, including 15 points in the first half to help keep the Hustle within reach. Dusty Hannahs had another stellar night off the bench, scoring 24 points to go with on 6-of-11 from the field (3-5 3P) and knocking down all seven free throw attempts. Jackson (15 points) and Matt Mooney (10 points) also reached double digits.
Jordan Bone paced the Drive all night and led the team with 22 points. Donta Hall (10 points, 13 rebounds) had the game’s only double-double. Louis King added 16 points and five rebounds.