Photo by MattAzevedo.com
Raptors 905 (26-9) def. Erie Bayhawks (11-24); 129-108 | Box Score
Assignees: Bruno Caboclo (905), Pascal Siakam (905), Fred VanVleet (905).
Fred VanVleet had arguably the best game of his season with 26 points and 11 assists to lead the 905 to a crushing 129-108 victory over the last place Erie Bayhawks.
He was a perfect 9-for-9 at the free throw line, and made three of his four attempts from beyond the arc. His decision making was on point from start to finish, hooking up his bigs, penetrating and dishing to the outside as well, and attacking to get his own when the opportunities opened up for him as well.
Showcasing assertiveness right from the tip, the 905 showed no signs of losing momentum because of the All-Star break, and improved to 14-7 in the friendly confines of the Hershey Centre. They drew the first six fouls and finished the game with a 23-13 advantage in the department; the added aggression helping them outrebound Erie by 17. They shot 54% from the field for the game, and knocked down 10 of their 23 attempts from long distance.
Making his debut for the 905, Pascal Siakam struggled to finish inside, despite getting in good position. Outside of an easy dunk off a VanVleet feed, he repeatedly missed around the rim, and finished 3-of-12 for the game. He fumbled the ball on a couple of catches when the defender made his presence felt, reminiscent of Biyombo with the Raptors last season.
There were positives for him in this game as well. He drew contact like a moth to a flame, finishing with eight free-throw attempts. He finished a nice alley-oop after beating his man down the floor off a feed from Fred VanVleet, much like the alley-oops Lowry found him for when he’d zoom ahead of the pack in a Raptors game. He also grabbed 12 rebounds; five coming on the offensive end.
This is a great opportunity for Siakam to correct his bad habits and begin to smooth out his rough edges. One aspect I’d like to see him improve defensively is his positioning. He would often get caught out in NBA games, and I think this was a product of being able to “cheat” in college. He could get away with making mistakes in college and have his athleticism make up for it, but those mistakes get exposed at this level. He has to understand his role in the schemes better and show better judgment in when to help/tag and when to stay with his man.
Bruno Caboclo got off to an active start, tapping the ball out off an E.J. Singler miss from the corner back to Singler, who then scored on a contested layup. He followed that up with a strong move going to his left, and finishing with ease at the rim. He had some nice moments towards the end of the first half as well, completing a dunk, making a three, and adding a finger-roll in the final five minutes of the second quarter to give him 11 at the half.
Axel Toupane made the most of his All-Star break, looking sprightly after checking in and showing no concerns with regards to a hamstring injury that forced him to miss a few games leading up to the break. He only played a couple of minutes in the D-League All-Star game, and there’s no doubt that Jerry Stackhouse was keeping his player’s health a top priority. He finished with 17 points, and did it with his usual relentless attacking of the rim.
For Stackhouse, the winning ways continue. The 905 have now four straight, and are looking more and more likely to threaten for the D-League championship. This being the North Carolina native’s first season at the helm, it would be quite an incredible feat to see this team get that far. With VanVleet and Siakam likely to spend most of their time with the 905 down the stretch, he’ll have some bonus help to try and get there.
- Antwaine Wiggins is in a nice groove right now. He finished with 16 points and even made a couple of threes. He’s looking more assured on offence, and the Jarrod Uthoff trade has definitely allowed for better role definition for both him and CJ Leslie. Leslie finished with nine points on a perfect 3-of-3 from the field.
- Brady Heslip was sick and did not play tonight. Will Sheehey extended his time out due to a hamstring strain.
- The 905 will hit the road next to face the Delaware 87ers on Saturday, Feb. 27.