Raptors 905 102, Windy City Bulls 100 | Box Score
Assignees: Fred VanVleet, Bruno Caboclo (905), Paul Zipser (Bulls)
If there’s anything redeeming about Saturday night, it’s that the Chicago Bulls’ weird power over the Toronto Raptors does not extend throughout each organization. While the parent club Bulls were making a 19-point comeback for their 10th consecutive victory against the NBA Raptors, the D-League squads for both franchises were playing not too far away at the Sears Centre in Chicago.
There were no big leads for either side to blow in this one. The two sides traded shots and mini-runs for the bulk of the night, with neither side able to build any serious momentum or wrestle control with any sort of permanence. The lead changed hands 21 times, the game was tied on 16 occasions, and neither team led by double-figures at any point.
It was fitting, then, that the game came down to the final possession. After the 905 chipped away a six-point deficit in the third quarter, they went up by four on an Axel Toupane triple, three of his 21 points on the night. The defense couldn’t hold it’s own, though, with a missed Fred VanVleet triple getting sandwiched between a pair of Aaron Thomas free-throws and a Paul Zipser 3-pointer, tying the game with 10.9 seconds to play.
Head coach Jerry Stackhouse put the game in the hands of VanVleet, and he responded by attacking baseline, drawing the foul, and knocking down a pair of game-winning free throws. The Bulls couldn’t managed to get a shot off with the 1.3 seconds left on the clock, and the 905 remain undefeated on the road.
It’s fitting, too, that VanVleet was given the opportunity to win the game, as he was excellent in scoring a game-high 23 points and dishing a game-high seven assists. The 905 outscored the Bulls by nine in VanVleet’s 37 minutes and were outscored by seven in the 11 minutes he sat, meaning VanVleet did his full Kyle Lowry impression in this one. His teammates knocking down the looks he got them helped, too, and the 905 shook of their cold shooting stretch of late. E.J. Singler and Brady Heslip both his three triples to lift the 905 to a 12-of-26 mark from outside which, combined with an advantage at the free-throw line, helped swing the game for them. Depth is one of this team’s strengths, and Stackhouse leaned on it heavily here, mixing and matching with an 11-man rotation to try to find something that could prevent them from falling quickly back into their previous three-game malaise.
This kind of response – sweeping a road back-to-back – is exactly what Stackhouse talked about looking for earlier in the week. Now, it will be a matter of the 905 figuring out how to win at Hershey Centre, where they’ve only played .500 ball.
- This is a very brief recap with some bullet points, because A) it overlapped with Raptors-Bulls; and B) The final 3:07 of the game, the most critical part in a one-possession final, aren’t available. The stream messed up and apparently hasn’t been recovered, so, what are you going to do? I stayed in on a Saturday night and watched three-and-a-half quarters of a D-League game only to not get to see its conclusion. Awesome.
- Can we please end this disaster of a Facebook Live experiment? Not only were the last three minutes of the game completely lost on the stream, streaming a game after the fact (I watched this after the Raptors game) still isn’t easy. The stream is choppy, buggy, and often low-definition, all problems that didn’t exist with the YouTube streams.
- This was an all-timer in terms of away announcer trying to pronounce the name of Bruno Kuubuckalou.
- Kuubuckalou had a quiet offensive night with eight points on six attempts, continuing to be used in a role more similar to his potential NBA role down the line than as a focal point of the team’s entire offense.
- Coming off of a few shakier games, C.J. Leslie not only wasn’t starting, he only played nine minutes. Part of that is Kuubuckalou’s assignment eating minutes in the frontcourt. Part of it is Leslie’s leash shortening some. Stackhouse has mentioned before that Leslie sometimes needs someone in his ear, and this seems like a bit of necessary tough love for his fellow Carolina native.
- The 905 went away from Edy Tavares after featuring him heavily in back-to-back games. That may have had something to with Alex Brown on the opposite side, and a bit of foul trouble for the 7-footer. He was a big part of a key fourth-quarter comeback, when they turned a six-point deficit into a three-point lead, and then Stackhouse wanted a bit more mobility for the final three minutes. He’s coming along nicely.
- VanVleet and Caboclo are likely to be recalled for Sunday’s home game against Houston. What their respective statuses will be when both teams play home games Tuesday is unclear and could depend some on how the parent club’s back-to-back concludes. It could go either way – earlier in the year, the assignment players were sticking with the Raptors for as many games as possible, but traveling a couple of times with the 905 of late could suggest a shift in approach.
- The 905 now return home for a Tuesday game. If you want to check that game – or any game – out live, you can go to this link and use the promo code REPUBLIC905 all season long, as the 905 are hooking RR readers up with discounted tickets.