Photo Credit: Matt Azevedo/MattAzevedo.com
Raptors 905 (5-2) def. Canton Charge (2-6); 104-72 | Box Score
If you’re a Toronto sports fan desperate for even a modicum of success against Cleveland, this was the game you needed. No, it wasn’t the big boys, but the 905 took care of business, fairly handily in the end, against the defending champions’ D-League affiliate Canton Charge.
The Charge came into this game with the second-worst rebounding percentage in the D-League, and it showed. The 905 outrebounded their opponents 49-34, and Edy Taveras’ length was something they just didn’t have the means to contend with. Making another start ahead of Yanick Moreira, Tavares’ length was a factor for all 24 minutes that he was on the court. He had some Bebe-esque moments during an initial burst of eight points, eight boards, a couple of steals and three monster swats by halftime, that had the 905 in cruise control the rest of the way.
There was one play in particular that stood out. Canton’s Quinn Cook got the measure of Brady Heslip before blowing by him, and despite head coach Jerry Stackhouse’s incessant pleas for “No middle!” Cook was gifted with a massive opening and got right to the rack. As he went up to lay the ball in, Tavares burst into the paint off his man and swatted the ball away.
The only source of concern for Stackhouse with Tavares tonight will be the six fouls he drew in those 24 minutes, again, not unlike the fouls we’ve seen Lucas Nogueira prone to committing.
The 905 looked sharp early, jumping out to a 15-3 lead in the opening five minutes and there was a sharpness to them that can be credited to the value of facing some pretty stiff competition in the two games prior. There was the same mettle that saw them gut out their last win against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, and the Charge never looked ready for that level of compete.
Axel Toupane looked like he was trying to make up for lost time from last night in this one, and showed no signs of being burdened by the ankle injury that sidelined him for two games. He was relentless in using his pump fake and jab step to get a step on his defender and get to the rim. His 17 first-half points kept the 905 on pace on that end of the floor at a time when the Raptors needed a bit of leadership there, before eventually finishing with 32 for the game along with 14 perfect free-throw attempts. He took just 12 field-goal attempts to get to 32 points (!). The way he uses his body to his advantage is particularly impressive. His long limbs allow him to create space at this level comfortably, and it’s a credit to him that he knows what works for him and sticks to it.
BHeslip was really struggling with his outside shot in the first half (1-for-6 from deep), and the Charge actually appeared content conceding open looks to him, either completely unaware of his proficiency as a shooter, or way ahead of the pack in realizing that it just wasn’t his night. C.J. Leslie continues to sparkle while staying within the offense, finishing with 13 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists, and that helped make up for the lack of punch at the point.
The D-League is all about learning and development, and an early blowout scenario meant some extra pull on the string for the 905 bench.
Jarrod Uthoff got some decent run in particular, but failed to impress. He had a nice play towards the end of the first quarter to beat his man off the dribble, before missing the layup, getting the offensive board, missing the put-back, getting the offensive rebound again, then having tipped away when going back up. It was the typical D-League play where there are signs of encouragement for beating his man of the bounce and scrapping for the board, but eventually failing to cap it off with a finish.
It was good to see him continue to battle in the second half, and the same can be said for Moreira. He didn’t have a good game on the offensive end, but battled hard on the glass for his six boards.
At 5-2, Stackhouse will continue to stay true to his long-term plans, but he will be encouraged by the manner in which they’ve stepped up their compete level over the past two games.
- The Raptors recalled VanVleet and Caboclo to the main squad prior to tonight’s contest, so the 905 had nobody on assignment. The Raptors may change course for the 905’s next game, Sunday, but with the parent club still at home it seems like Caboclo and VanVleet are in Toronto for a while.
- One of the nice perks of a sparse crowd is hearing just how vocal of a presence Stackhouse is all game long, especially on the defensive end.
- Next up for the 905 is a rematch with the Maine Red Claws in Portland on Sunday at 5:00pm EST, one of two teams to defeat them thus far.