Photo credit: Christian Bonin / TSGphoto.com
Raptors 905 93, Maine Red Claws 102| Box Score
Assignees: Bruno Caboclo (905), Guerschon Yabusele, Abdel Nader (Red Claws)
Two-ways: Malcolm Miller (905), Jabari Bird, Allen (Red Claws)
The Raptors 905 fell to 4-6 against the Maine Red Claws (7-3), who seemed to hit every 3 they attempted. The 905 desperately missed primary shot creators Lorenzo Brown and Alfonzo McKinnie, who were with the parent club against the Indiana Pacers.
The 905 began well, even leading after the first few minutes. Aaron Best offered much of the offense for the team, scoring 7 of the team’s first 9 points, including a sweet-looking jumper from range. His speedy stroke is an important source of offense for a team that can look stuck in the mud at times at that end of the floor.
However, the Maine Red Claws shooting was not to be outdone; they made 8 of their first 10 shots from range, and they quickly took the lead with balanced scoring from practically every player on the floor. They could all shoot! The Red Claws had multiple possessions where they stretched the generally-solid 905 defense past its breaking point, swinging extra pass after pass around the perimeter until the right shooter found himself wide open.
For the 905, Negus Webster-Chan checked in for the first time for the 905, and he was able to provide positive, if unspectacular, minutes. He was able to hit a 3 pointer in the second, providing some of the only shooting for the 905 along with Kaza Keane, recently returned from Team Canada playing at the FIBAs.
While the Red Claws had a full roster of top-level talent with two assignments and two two-way players, the 905 only had one of each. The only Raptor, Bruno Caboclo, struggled to impact the game. Though he contested shots well around the rim (the Red Claws only made their first 2-point shot with 4 minutes left in the first quarter), Caboclo struggled to put points on the board. This would continue throughout the game, even reaching laughable extremes (more on that later).
The 905 were only down 28-22 going into the second quarter, which was perfectly manageable considering the flame throwing from their opponent; one would hope that it would slow down. However, in the second quarter, the Red Claw talent started to shine. Jabari Bird hit some 3s and threw down three massive dunks – two one-hand tomahawks and one cock-back reverse – to put the Red Claws in the driver’s seat. Halfway through the quarter, the Red Claws’ lead had swelled to 11.
The score would between 5 and 11 for the rest of the game as any 905 momentum would be met with timely Red Claw buckets.
The 905 found some consistent offense from Malcolm Miller, who was able to score by attacking the rim. He finished a few contested layups on the right side, and he even drew a few fouls on the Red Claw two-way player Kareem Allen, one offensive and one defensive, to keep the 905 within striking distance. At that point, the Red Claws had hit 11/19 from 3 – the 905 only 4/19.
While the 905 struggled to create behind the arc, Kennedy Meeks (also returning from FIBA) provided some nice buckets in the post. He is a stable offensive force, and any G-League defender will struggle to defend his skill, touch, and size. Despite solid effort from Meeks and Kaza Keane, the 905 entered the halftime break down 8, 42-50.
The third quarter began with dreadful offensive execution from the Raptors 905. They clearly missed Lorenzo Brown – and his ability to create something from nothing in the halfcourt – a huge amount. Bruno Caboclo missed shot after shot, especially on quick-trigger 3s. Possessions mercilessly stalled out as any 905 action was bested by impressive and in-sync Red Claw defense; Caboclo missed a wild hook and Berry missed a hanging jumper as the offense tried to beat consecutive shot clock violations.
The 905 were only kept in the game as Kaza Keane forced several offensive fouls and Berry put some points on the board. I continually was confused by how the 905 were only down single digits, but there they were, still in the game. Webster-Chan sandwiched a Davion Berry 3 with two of his own, and the 905 were only down 5 near the end of the third quarter.
Kadeem Allen, who had been in foul trouble throughout the game, began the final quarter with dunks and 3s galore. When he drew a foul on Kennedy Meeks – his fifth – the Maine announcers intoned: “the MEEKS shall inherit… the bench”. It’s the G-League for everyone.
Even though the 905 got back into the game due to Red Claw misses, it was simply too little too late. Worth noting: the 905 offense devolved entirely into isolation attempts with the game on the lane in the last few minutes, as Davion Berry attempted to win the game through heroics alone. He failed, and that is partially on Coach Stack. The game may have been close, but the 905 were outplayed wire to wire, and they continually are left searching on the offensive end. They simply do not have enough shot-creators.
- Assignment notes
- Bruno Caboclo … Caboclo couldn’t shoot. He finished 4/20 from the field (0/7 from 3), and it was tough to watch at times.
- Other 905 player notes:It’s huge for the 905 to have Keane back. He competes harder than anyone on D, often throwing his body on the ground and taking charges like a regular ol’ Kyle Lowry. His shooting gives some oxygen to an offense that often looks like it’s asphyxiating…Negus Webster-Chan back in the house! His stroke looked fine, as he finished 3/5 from 3. Look for him to contribute more as he shakes the rust off…Berry tried to isolate time and again at the end of the game, and even though he sometimes looks too talented for the G-League, it just wasn’t working. It’s nice to see the 905 put the ball in his hands, but he needs to find a way to take better shots. …Malcolm Miller finished 10/10 from the free throw line! He’s another guy working his way back from injury who will only get better.
- Injury notes: None? Webster-Chan is back and Moute a Bidias was released to make room for returning Kaza Keane.
- Red Claw notes: Jabari Bird is very athletic. He can throw down huge dunks, hit the glass, and he can even step back and stroke the 3. The Celtics gave him time in pre-season, but they seem to be conditioning him in the G-League for now. It’s what the league is for. He should be an NBA contributor at some point.
- The 905 are on the road again Sunday before returning home for an Air Canada Centre game on Tuesday. A friendly reminder that promo code “REPUBLIC905” will get you a discount at this link all season long.