G-League

Lorenzo Brown ties franchise record for assists, 905 win 8th straight

Brown’s facilitating is taking the 905 to new highs.

Photo credit: Christian Bonin / TSGphoto.com

Photo credit: Christian Bonin / TSGphoto.com

Raptors 905 100 def. Erie Bayhawks 85 | Box Score
Assignees: Bruno Caboclo, Alfonzo McKinnie (905), Deandre’ Bembry (Bayhawks)
Two-ways: Malcolm Miller, Lorenzo Brown (905), Josh Magette (Bayhawks)

If you had missed every game this Raptors 905 season before this one, you would have assumed this was the same team from last year and were motoring along as usual. I couldn’t fault you, either.

The 905 stormed out of the gate just as they did throughout out the course of their championship winning 2016-17 season and rode the momentum to their eighth straight win of the season, defeating the Erie Bayhawks 100-85 and improving to 13-10 on the year.

Death, taxes, and Bruno Caboclo corner threes to open 905 games are certainties of life, except this Friday night. He had a nice pump-fake-and-drive from the top of the arc for a layup, followed by a pull-up jumper, and then knocked down a pair of triples with consummate ease. I like that his game worked inside-out in this one and it’s something I wouldn’t mind seeing more often. Getting an easy bucket or two early on could be just what he needs to build his confidence early and carry that momentum throughout the game. He finished with 22 points for the night on a cool 11 shot attempts.

Caboclo, Alfonzo McKinnie, and Kennedy Meeks combined for 26 points early as the 905 jumped out to a 39-17 advantage in what the Erie commentators referred to as the “embryonic stage” of the game. They can all thank their starting point guard for his eight first-quarter assists.

Lorenzo Brown’s development as a table setter is evolving into one of the better stories of the season. Known as a score-first guard coming in, the early days were rough as he struggled to both get his shot going and find his teammates. He has grown just as the 905 have over the course of the season, and the flow in which he maintained the team’s offense was a treat to watch as he racked up 15 assists, which ties Kaza Keane’s franchise record.

He was more than happy using his gravity at the G League level to penetrate and dish, creating open looks for his teammates from beyond the arc and in the paint. Back-to-back possessions late in the second quarter stuck out in particular to me.

First, Brown was doubled, free-throw line extended on the right side, with the shot clock under 10. Brown patiently sucked them in as he moved toward the right corner before dropping a perfectly timed pocket pass to Meeks for a wide open layup.

On the very next possession, Brown faced a trap again on the right side, and swung the ball to Best on the left. The former Ryerson Ram drove middle to force Brown’s man to commit, at which point Brown had moved towards the right corner for an open three-point look. He missed the shot, but you have to appreciate Brown trusting the pass and moving for his teammate.

The feel good vibes didn’t translate to results in the second quarter, though. The Bayhawks stormed back, outscoring the 905 by 15 in the second quarter to make it a seven-point game heading into halftime. Keane wasn’t able to generate the same level of productivity as Brown from his teammates, but it was just that kind of game for the reserves.

The entire bench minus Davion Berry was cold in this one, as they combined for 7-of-27 shooting. There’s bound to be nights like these, but it was still nice to see that while they bent, they did not break. Berry made some big plays at the right time, which bought Jerry Stackhouse enough time to bring the starters back to extend the advantage.

It was another comfortable win in the end that takes the 905 out of the basement of the Atlantic division at 13-10 and within two-and-a-half games of the leading Westchester Knicks. They take on the Maine Red Claws on the road again, Sunday, after which they enjoy a few days off before the G League Showcase in Mississauga.

Notes

    • Assignment notes
      • This may have been the best game I’ve seen Bruno play in terms of decision making alone. When to shoot, when to drive, when to pass, it was all there in this one. He had a nice Gretzky assist for early in the third quarter as he received the ball at the right elbow mismatched against Josh Magette. The help came early, and he used his size to identify the open man and kicked out to Best above the break on the left side, who in turn swung to McKinnie for a corner three. He had another play where after receiving a pass in the middle of the paint he was able to find the angle on a bounce pass to set up Meeks for a layup.
      • McKinnie finished with 17 points and six rebounds in just 25 minutes after fouling out.
    • 905 notes
      • Kennedy Meeks has slotted into the starting center role exceedingly well. He defends, sets mammoth screens, rolls to the basket, and finishes consistently. He finished with 16 very quiet points.
      • Aaron Best was well within the flow of the offense, and when his outside shot is falling, it makes Brown’s job that much easier.Nice alley-oop jam off a lob from that man Lorenzo Brown as well.
    • Bayhawks notes
      • Jaylen Morris posterized Alfonzo McKinnie off a feed from Josh Magette. Magette drove the baseline before dishing to a cutting Morris who rose for a tomahawk slam plus the foul over McKinnie. It was nasty.
      • Raphiael Putney led the Bayhawks in scoring with 17 points, and uses his length nicely. Finished with 11 rebounds too.
    • Shouts to the 905 fans who made their presence felt in Erie.

  • The 905 play one more road game before returning for the G League Showcase. It goes down in Mississauga from Jan. 10-13. You can use promo code RRSHOW at this link for discounts off of all the games.

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