Photo credit: MattAzevedo.com
Raptors 905 92, Delaware 87ers 98| Box Score
Assignees: Bruno Caboclo (905), None (87ers)
Two-ways: Malcolm Miller (905), Devin Robinson [via Wizards], James Michael McAdoo (87ers)
When it rains, it pours.
That was head coach Jerry Stackhouse’s sentiment after a third loss in a row for Raptors 905, in response to an opponent getting hot from outside early on once again. This time, it was the Delaware 87ers, who used a 13-of-27 night from long-range, several of the makes the high degree-of-difficulty kind, to steal their first victory of the season from the 905, a 98-92 final in front of 1,802 fans in Mississauga.
Looking to shake off the last two performances, Stackhouse opted to roll with a significantly different starting lineup. That meant starting Kethan Savage in Lorenzo Brown’s absence and giving Shevon Thompson the nod at center, sliding Bruno Caboclo and Malcolm Miller up a position without Alfonzo McKinnie. Those changes were out of necessity with fewer Toronto Raptors, to be sure, though Stackhouse was also looking for a better energy out of the gate, anyway. He got it here. Thompson was a revelation in his first appearance with the team, scoring on an offensive rebound on his first possession and then following it up with an and-one and another finish inside, with nice post defense against James Michael McAdoo mixed in. Savage hit an early three, too, and the 905 were out to their first good start in some time with a 10-6 lead.
The new look was short-lived with Thompson getting into quick foul trouble, leaving Richard Amardi and Caboclo to share the center duties. They were beat on the same play twice in short order, which resulted in a quick hook for Amardi in favor of Kuran Iverson. Caboclo hit a three to briefly stymie an 87er run, only for Delaware to lock down on defense, with Emeka Okafor stabilizing them at that end and James McAdoo blocking what initially appeared to be an open driving dunk for Miller. Caboclo had another nice moment, shaking off a falling turnover by saving what looked like a sure pass into my lap with his length and then taking it for a shot-clock-beating layup. That was enough to keep the 905 within one after a quarter, not entirely where they wanted to be but better than in recent outings.
The 87ers began pulling away in the second, opening on an extended 15-7 run as they hit nearly everything and continued getting to the line. Thompson picked up a quick third, too, taking away some of the team’s presence inside, and Stackhouse has been adamant that he doesn’t want to get gimmicky in relying heavily on switching across positions instead of defending well within the scheme initially. They did, however, zone up a bit to try to slow Delaware down, something Devin Robinson was happy to break with a late-clock three. A timeout didn’t settle them down, with Caboclo getting his pocket picked for a dunk the other way and then getting back-cut by Christian Wood as Delaware stretched the lead out to 14.
It got worse from there. The deficit swelled to 26 by the end of the half, with James Webb hitting a couple of tough shots and Aaron Best fouling James Webb for a four-point play. Even with some extra push off of the stops they did get, the 905 struggled to produce good looks and dealt with turnovers once again. The 87ers shot 14-of-21 in the half and 8-of-11 on threes, the kind of shot-making that can’t sustain and sometimes doesn’t need to when it builds such a substantial lead.
“It’s the same story. Whether it’s the first quarter or the second quarter, just coming out ready to play,” Stackhouse said. “Focus, get rid of some of these mental errors early on in the games,e executing our plays, executing our stuff. It’s a lot of random, I don’t know, we get in the heat of the moment and guys can’t seem to focus on doing their jobs right now. We did a lot better job in the second half of it, and hopefully that’s a sign of things to come here in the near future.”
Thompson was once again a factor to start the second half, driving baseline for a dunk, drawing a foul the next time down the court, and then busting out a spin move. It seemed to energize the 905, who dialed up the defensive intensity tipping passes and drawing charges. Thompson’s foul trouble got Andre Washington some quality minutes, the team ironed out some early quarter turnovers, and a full-court press really frustrated the 87ers for a few minutes. That helped narrow the gap to a more manageable 21 entering the fourth, a large hill but decidedly better than the 29 it once stood at.
“I thought Andre Washington was really a key for us. He came in and gave us a spark,” Stackhouse said.
The pressure sustained in the fourth, with Delaware starting the quarter with an eight-second violation. The Hershey Centre began to wake up as a sequence of a Caboclo put-back, Washington block at the rim, and Washington jumper made it a 15-point game, and Delaware had to burn an early timeout to try to stem the tide. The 905 pushed to 12 before Webb nailed a three – just their second field goal in seven minutes – and dropped some unkind words, only for Caboclo to answer back with a three and then Thompson to make it a 10-point game with a dunk.
The 87ers eventually started scoring, and with the 905 running out of time, an ankle injury for Amardi came at a rough time. That left the 905 to close bigger, with Caboclo, Iverson, and Thompson, length that helped slow Delaware down but couldn’t keep them off of the offensive glass. Two long rebounds were tipped out and, while they only led to one 87er point combined, it ate precious clock. When Davion Berry responded with a transition push for a bucket-and-foul, the 905 only had 87 seconds to come back eight points. Berry promptly sank a three and Iverson and Savage converged for a steal, but the 905 ran out of time when they couldn’t connect down the stretch, a pair of turnovers negating some shaky 87er shooting.
“We found a way to get close in each of ’em, but sometimes when you dig a hole like that, the deficit just becomes a little bit too much,” Stackhouse said.
Coming up short in the comeback is surely disappointing, and the 905 will lament the second quarter that did them in. At the same time, the second-half fight they showed in coming back is notable given they tried two games prior but weren’t able to close the gap despite better play out of the breaks. It’s progress, and they may have found a mix and an energy that worked for them.
“We have enough,” Stackhouse said. “We have enough in this locker room to get it done. Until this starts to hurt a little bit and we start to feel a little bit of discomfort from coming in with our heads hung like they are right now, it’ll continue. But I think we’ve got some guys in there, they’ve got some pride, the way they showed there in the second half. If we can try to put that together for 48 minutes, I’ll be able to live with the results a little better than I am right now.”
Any moral victory sentiment won’t keep them warm, in other words. They’re disappointed, and maybe a little frustrated. Still, the strong push back that ran out of time rather than effectiveness could be the sort of intangible that carries over into Sunday’s game. The Grand Rapids Drive perhaps represent a tougher test than the 1-8 87ers (who are better than that record would suggest), and so the 905 will need to bring this same intensity for four quarters to snap their mini-losing streak.
- Assignment notes
- Bruno Caboclo had a shaky first half on the defensive end and a poor shooting night (4-of-15) for the second game in a row. He picked it up in the second half and was a factor down the stretch outside of the shaky shooting, finishing with 12 points, eight rebounds, and an even plus-minus.
- Other 905 player notes
- Shevon Thompson was a revelation in his first game with the team, scoring 20 points with 12 rebounds. He’s a physical presence the 905 don’t have anywhere else with Kennedy Meeks away at FIBA qualifiers, and the quick first impression Thompson made, combined with his numbers in this league a year ago, are curious considering he was available for a song in trade…Davion Berry led the team with 24 points, his third 20-point game of the season…Richard Amardi had 12 points off the bench but appeared to injure an ankle late.
- Negus Webster-Chan (IT band) and Roger Moute a Bidias (knee) missed their eighth consecutive games.
- 87ers notes: Emeka Okafor plays for the 87ers, and it was fun to see him out there…James Webb shot the ball exceptionally well, something he normally doesn’t do, and got to the line at will. Really nice game for him…Christian Wood still hasn’t put all of his tools together but has at least improved as a decision maker, racking up five assists here…James Michael McAdoo is still someone worth watching as a long-term NBA piece despite a 2-of-10 day here…David Gale was back as an assistant for the 87ers and, as their defensive lead, knew how to attack Caboclo off the ball early.
- The 905 are at home again tomorrow before they hit the road again. A friendly reminder that promo code “REPUBLIC905” will get you a discount at this link all season long.