Photo credit: Matt Azevedo/MattAzevedo.com
Raptors 905 (2-2) 92, Westchester Knicks (3-2) 90 | Box score
Assignees: Bruno Caboclo, Alfonzo McKinnie (905). Damyean Dotson, Ron Baker (Knicks).
Two-ways: Lorenzo Brown, Malcolm Miller [injured] (905). Isaiah Hicks, Luke Kornet (Knicks).
With 9:19 remaining in the third quarter, the game looked all too familiar to Friday night. The Raptors 905 were struggling to breathe, clamped down by their own offensive woes and in search of an identity. They were down 61-48, but the arena scoreboard displayed an 11-point deficit. The game was halted, and so too was the Westchester Knicks’ rhythm.
Led by Bruno Caboclo, the 905 stormed back over the remainder of the third quarter to cut the deficit to 70-66 heading into the fourth quarter. The Knicks would bend without breaking for much of the fourth quarter, but with some clutch coaching and execution from the players, the 905 stole the win with their final offensive possession of the night.
Trailing 90-89, the 905 inbounded from the right side of the floor, placing responsibility in the hands of Lorenzo Brown to penetrate and get to the basket. As the defense collapsed, Brown made the right read and kicked the ball out to the left corner to a wide open Davion Berry, who calmly knocked the three.
The Knicks then called timeout and ran a play for Ron Baker, who was short on his three-point attempt.
Caboclo finished with 22 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and a pair of steals in a win that could provided a much needed boost of confidence and unite the team in a way that only road W’s seem to have a way of doing.
After being bullied inside on both ends of the court in a lopsided loss to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, Jerry Stackhouse beefed up the starting lineup with some size on the frontline, inserting 7’1″ 235-pound center Andre Washington. The move didn’t provide the spark the head coach was looking for, as he was unable to grab a rebound and was taken apart defensively as the Knicks drew him out to the perimeter and took advantage of his poor lateral quicks. He played the opening four minutes, and never saw the floor again.
Whether it’s the perpetually changing starting lineup or the lack of a true point guard in that unit, the inability to find a rhythm offensively is certainly a cause for concern early in the season. Brown is certainly someone whose game identifies with being much more of a scorer than a distributor with 13 points on 17 shots today, and if he doesn’t have it going from the tip, it has hindered the 905’s ability to get off to quick starts. That’s another thing they did plenty of last season, when they had both talent and chemistry.
Don’t be surprised to see Kennedy Meeks in the starting lineup next time out, as he played during the third quarter run that saw the 905 make their comeback. He finished with 10 points, 11 rebounds, and FIVE steals as he helped the team complete the comeback in the fourth. It also helped that Brown found his own game a bit, completing a couple of tough finishes at the rim.
Alfonzo McKinnie was quietly effective in this one with 17 points, 12 rebounds, and a couple of steals.
One aspect of the Raptors defense that will have to improve is the perimeter defenders’ ability to keep opponents in front of them. Whether it’s getting beat off the bounce, or leaving their feet on shot fakes, it has been far too easy for opposing guards to get to the basket. Considering the lack of rim protection on the roster now, they can ill-afford to continue in this manner.
As Stackhouse went through his roster in search of some momentum in the first half, it was two Canadians who were able to march to his desired beat, as Kaza Keane and Richard Amardi brought some life to the 905’s proceedings. Amardi scored seven points and Keane added four of his own along with three assists to help cut the deficit to single digits. Keane brought a calm to the Raptors offense, running the team effectively and bringing that sort of veteran savvy that coaches crave at the point of attack.
Speaking of Canadians, Markham native Xavier Rathan-Mayes featured for the Knicks in this one and played his usual all-round game with six points, eight rebounds, seven assists, and three steals in the loss.
Isaiah Hicks, fresh off dropping 35 points on 19 shots against the Grand Rapids Drive, was held to 11 points, but the 905 struggled to keep birthday boy Trey Burke under wraps. He scored 23 points to go along with four rebounds and three assists, and his line-drive jumper has been falling to start the season. He was averaging 22.8 points and seven assists through four games, and will be hoping to be make a return to the NBA soon.
The 905 will be back in friendly confines on Tuesday.
- Raptors 905 improve to a perfect 6-0 record in the Westchester County Center.
- There were four officials in this game, something the G League has been experimenting with since last season. From what I remember, we didn’t see it experimented with at a 905 game last season.
- The 905 return home for an 11am ET game next Tuesday. A friendly reminder that promo code “REPUBLIC905” will get you a discount at this link all season long.