Mad Ants Fall in Leaf's Debut

Pacers first round pick TJ Leaf made his G-League debut in a loss to Grand Rapids on Saturday night.

Posted: Dec 16, 2017 11:56 PM

The Grand Rapids Drive (9-10) defeated the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (10-6), 103-101, at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum on Saturday night in front of a crowd of 2,676.

KJ McDaniels led all scorers with 29 points on 12-of-25 shooting and five rebounds in just his second game of the season with the Drive. Landry Nnoko finished with a double-double performance of 20 points and 12 rebounds.


Only seven players saw the floor for the second consecutive night for the Detroit Pistons’ affiliate, both resulting in victories.

The Mad Ants jumped out to a 12-3 advantage, but it was a defensive-oriented game for the rest of the first half, resulting in a 45-43 lead at the break. Grand Rapids shot just over 40 percent and Fort Wayne poured in a 37.5 shooting percentage. Twenty one of the 29 points from McDaniels came after the opening 24 minutes keeping the Drive close.

Bronson Koenig propelled the Drive in the third quarter with 10 points on a perfect 4-for-4 shooting display.

Kenneth ‘Speedy’ Smith’s heroics stole the fourth quarter, including playing the final 12 minutes in a grueling effort down the stretch. Smith capitalized with 16 points and a dagger of a 3-point shot with 43.5 seconds to go to put Grand Rapids up four. Six of his 16 points also came from the free throw line in the waning moments of regulation.

The Mad Ants were led in scoring by 20 points each from Walt Lemon Jr. and TJ Leaf, who made his NBA G League debut on assignment from the Indiana Pacers. The 18th overall selection in the 2017 NBA Draft logged 32 minutes and shot 9-of-19 in his debut.

Lemon Jr. recorded his fourth double-double of the season with 10 assists as well.

Jarrod Uthoff added 16 points, while Stephan Hicks tallied 14 points, 11 of which came in the second half.

Fort Wayne will be back on the court Monday night at home against Greensboro, while Grand Rapids will head to Wisconsin on Wednesday.

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