Photo credit: Christian Bonin / TSGphoto.com
Raptors 905 91, Lakeland Magic 84 | Box Score
Assignees: Bruno Caboclo, Alfonzo McKinnie (905), None (Magic)
Two-ways: Malcolm Miller, Lorenzo Brown (905), Jamel Artis, Adreian Payne (Magic)
When a team gets hot, a rematch against a team that beat them when they were in a much worse place is an interesting proposition. Really, it can go two ways. As Raptors 905 hosted the Lakeland Magic on Tuesday, it marked a chance to get a win back against a team that beat them fairly emphatically back in mid-November. On one hand, it could be a rematch with a team they match up poorly with and the end of a winning streak. The alternative outcome seemed to be disproportional in the momentum it could help create, a cleaning of the slate with an elite defensive opponent.
Even on a night when their main contributors didn’t have everything they normally do on the offensive end, the 905 chose the latter, topping Lakeland 91-84 in a defensive slugfest. Both teams would shoot exactly 28-of-73 from the floor, neither would shoot the three well, and so the game was decided through whatever intangibles you choose to ascribe. Consider it another step in the ascendancy of this 905 team that they came out on top, a pattern the last few weeks.
“It was just a defensive battle, man,” head coach Jerry Stackhouse said. “Two defensive teams that love to grind the game out, grind it out offensively, as well.”
The last time these sides met, Rodney Purvis went bonkers to start the game, hitting five threes in the opening six minutes. It wasn’t quite the same Purvis show this time around, with the Magic relying heavily on their two-way players in Jamel Artis and Adreian Payne. Both players gave the 905 some trouble on the defensive end early on, and Payne in particular was a magnet for fouls and rebounds. The pair combined for 16 points on 14 possessions in the quarter, and so even though the teammates around them struggled from the floor, the Magic were able to put up a number that Stackhouse probably wasn’t happy with.
The other end saw the 905 spread the ball around as they have through the bulk of this winning streak, getting points from eight different players, none of whom scored more than Lorenzo Brown’s six points. That included a savvy tip-in bucket from Andre Washington, playing as a third center in the first quarter, one of several offensive rebound opportunities the 905 had since they struggled a bit shooting. Bruno Caboclo’s quarter was emblematic of that issue, as he missed all four of his threes. Malcolm Miller missed both of his, too, and the offense being slow to get going saw Stackhouse mixing and matching groups plenty.
Despite the tough shooting start, the 95o were only down five after a quarter, and a Kaza Keane-Davion Berry backcourt helped create some turnovers to start the second and set the tone for what would be a strong defensive response. Berry had a nice offensive stretch, too, hitting a sweet mid-range jumper and getting to the line multiple times as part of a big night for him.
“DB was huge for us tonight, man,” Stackhouse said.”DB came in and gave us a big spark. It was a great team effort. Our top guys didn’t have their best night, other guys stepped up and contributed.”
That kept things within arm’s reach until the starters started filtering back in. Lakeland pulled right back away with a 6-0 run that included former Raptors Summer Leaguer Troy Caupain drawing a charge on Alfonzo McKinnie and saw Stackhouse go 12-deep into his bench to find a fivesome that could produce a run. They weren’t quite able to find it until the very end of the half, when a Caboclo leak-out off of a turnover and then a foul drawn on a post-up helped pull them back within three at the break.
The defensive intensity from the second carried over with the 905 pressing a bit more aggressively, and Aaron Best got things going with a steal and clear-path foul before Brown drilled a three to take the lead back for the first time since early on. Caboclo continued to struggle from outside so he instead took it to the rim twice in a row, and his teammates picked him up with some strong shooting inside and out. All told, the 905 made a 13-4 run to start the third that constituted a 19-4 run across halves that flipped control of the game to the streaking home side. Even without NBA assignment players to supplement their two-ways, though, the Magic are a tough out. Their shooting started to come around a bit, on Caupain did a nice job of getting into space to create, then hit a free-throw after a Berry technical to draw within four heading into the fourth.
Berry atoned with a quick basket, and the defense from the bench kept Lakeland from drawing much closer, tipping kick-outs and restricting the Magic to shots late in the clock. After a stretch of shaky offensive execution, the 905 were finally able to gain some greater separation, pulling ahead nine with six minutes to go on a thunderous Shevon Thompson dunk. Stackhouse rode that group a little longer as a result, changing things up only after Thompson picked up a fifth foul. The offense sputtered once again, necessitating a call to Brown and Best to close. Caboclo would get the call a moment later, useful reps in a six-point, four-minute game.
Whether the length got to the Magic or what, their first play against that look saw a Purvis pass bounce off the head of John Petrucelli and out of bounds, which would have seemed a good omen on the surface. Kennedy Meeks was blocked at the rim shortly after, though, sandwiched around a Caupain bucket and a Petrucelli trip to the line to make it a one-possession game. The 905 responded with a lengthy possession with a pair of offensive rebounds that resulted in a clutch Caboclo three, Purvis missed the other way, and Meeks tipped in his own miss to go back up seven with a minute to play. It was just a matter of Brown sealing it with free throws from there, and Caboclo recorded a swat near the buzzer for good measure.
This marks the seventh win in a row for the 905, a striking turnaround to launch them to 12-10 a week ahead of the G League Showcase. There was always a sense things would turn around from the 5-10 start, the only question being whether it would come in time for an earnest playoff push. It’s happened earlier and more emphatically than maybe anticipated, and as the 905 near the midseason mark, their season looks completely different than the course it was on just a few weeks back. That they did it without massive contributions from their NBA talent speaks well of their chances to keep it up come Showcase time.
- Assignment notes
- Bruno Caboclo had an active night, good and bad. He didn’t lack for confidence shooting the three, and while the 1-of-10 mark is unsightly and drops him to 31.5 percent on the season, it perhaps says something that he didn’t hesitate knocking down the clutch three late. He had a really nice take with a left-handed finish, too, and added seven rebounds, three steals, and two blocks in a solid defensive effort. He was a plus-7 in 30 minutes and finished with 14 points.
- Alfonzo McKinnie was quiet outside of the glass, playing just 20 minutes and scoring six points with nine rebounds. That rebounding was pretty paramount for the team’s defensive success, and McKinnie was a plus-7 in his minutes. It feels like another big offensive performance isn’t far off, given how well the three has been falling for him.
- Neither assignee is expected to be with the 905 for the G League Showcase next week. The 905 have preferred to give that opportunity to their regular G Leaguers the last two years, and that will continue this year.
- Other 905 player notes
- Lorenzo Brown was his usual effective self, scoring 16 points with seven assists and only two turnovers in 30 minutes. He hit all four of his threes, as well. You know the deal with Brown at this point.
- Malcolm Miller had a tough shooting night, too, hitting just 1-of-6 on threes but grabbing five rebounds and fishing two assists in 22 minutes.
- Davion Berry was a huge factor here, scoring 19 points on 5-of-10 shooting on a night nobody else but Brown could score effectively…Shevon Thompson gave a nice boost off the bench outside of foul trouble, and Andre Washington was solid in his four minutes of support.
- Negus Webster-Chan continues to sit with a knee/IT band injury. He’s only appeared in six games all season.
- Magic notes: After his explosion last time, Purvis shot 3-of-12 and 0-of-4 on threes to finish with seven points…Jamel Artis led the way with 17 but used 19 possessions to get there…Adreian Payne had a tough night shooting the ball but got to the line plenty to finish with a 13-and-11 double-double.
- The 905 now hit the road for a pair of games before returning next week for the G League Showcase. A friendly reminder that promo code “REPUBLIC905” will get you a discount at this link all season long.