After two convincing double-digit wins over the Austin Spurs (102-87) and Santa Cruz Warriors (100-77), the Grand Rapids Drive, led by Lorenzo Brown, seemed to be legit contenders to win the Inaugural Showcase Cup Championship.
Neither team shot particularly well from the field for the game, but the Jam surged to an early lead, and led at the half 52-47, but the Drive's defense shifted into overdrive in the third, and shut down the Bakersfield shooters. Grand Rapids then found itself leading 86-76 with 7:51 left in the fourth, and the Pistons' D-League affiliate seemed poised to take home the laurels. However, it wasn't to be, as the stout defense the Drive had been boasting during the half fell apart, and the Jam went on a 14-4 run and never looked back. After tying the score at 90, Bakersfield drew fouls and forced a series of Drive turnovers that helped the Suns' D-League affiliate pull away and secure a 105-99 win.
The Drive fought to the last second, but fell short as both Luigi Datome and Adonis Thomas missed potential game tying three-pointers in the dying seconds of the fourth. Grand Rapids had four players in double-digits, led by Lorenzo Brown's 17 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, Adonis Thomas added 16, as did Willie Reed and Spencer Dinwiddie, who shot 4-13 from the field, including 1-8 from three. Gigi Datome added 8 points on 3-8 shooting (0-2 from three), eight boards and five personal fouls.
The Jam were led by Joe Jackson, who led all scorers with 24 points off the bench, Bakersfield also got 16 points from both Jamil Wilson and Casey Prather, who were integral to Bakersfield fourth-quarter rally along with Earl Barron (13 points 11 rebounds) and MVP Archie Goodwin (22 points, 9 rebounds).
Piston D-League Assignments
Dinwiddie struggled over the past three games, going scoreless in his second Showcase game and never seemed to get himself in rhythm. His dip shouldn't be of too much concern considering his success in his previous games with the Drive. Chalk up his relatively poor performance to his irregular playing schedule and rookie nerves. Over the duration of the Showcase, Dinwiddie averaged 9.0 points (34.8 FG%,18.2 3P%), 4.3 assists, 1.0 steal and 2.0 turnovers, his Italian counterpart averaged 13.3 points (43.8FG%; 46.2 3P%), 7.0 rebounds and 1.0 block.
Although he didn't seem pleased with his D-League 'demotion', Datome told reporters that playing with the Drive helped him more than he had expected, and his play earned him an honorable mention in the D-League's All Showcase teams. If Van Gundy was looking to showcase the former Italian League MVP's skills during his stint in the D-League, he should be certainly interested in his results.
While there's no reports that NBA teams have inquired about his availability, there were a large number of European scouts, mostly from Italy, present at the Showcase, and I wouldn't be surprised to hear Luigi's name mentioned in potential buyout rumors if his situation in Detroit doesn't improve.