Raptors 905 see winning streak snapped at the hands of Pressey and Warriors

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Matt Azevedo/MattAzevedo.com

Photo by MattAzevedo.com

Raptors 905 122, Santa Cruz Warriors 128 | Box Score
Assignees: Bruno Caboclo (905), Damian Jones (Warriors)

Raptors 905 entered play  surrendering 99 points per-game, lowest in the D-League. There needs to be a nod to the pace of play there, sure – the 905 are only the second-best defense in the D-League on a per-possession basis. The team one spot behind them, with a nearly identical defensive rating? The Santa Cruz Warriors, who were their host on Wednesday. Naturally, both teams opted to ditch their defensive reputations entirely and proceed to napalm each other and burn down the nets at Kaiser Permanente Arena.

By the time halftime rolled around, both teams were edging towards scores they’re normally experiencing at the end of 48 minutes. The Warriors rode a lights-out second to a 74-69 halftime lead, with the teams combining to shoot 61.2 percent overall and 60.7 percent on threes. Six players between the two sides were in double-figures and 19 had scored overall.

Somehow, Edy Tavares still managed a block in the half, but the style of play didn’t really suit the big man’s emerging game early on. It fed right into the share-everything, high-energy attack of the 905, though, and E.J. Singler led the way with 16 points on nearly perfect shooting (he missed one free throw). C.J. Leslie, drawing the start in place of the injured Bruno Caboclo – maybe he’s the key to the defense, after all! – added 13, and Axel Toupane took up residency exactly where he left off before his Milwaukee Bucks call-up, posting 11 points, four rebounds, and three assists in the half. Still, there was little answer for the Warriors, including James Southerland’s hellfire from long-range and Cleantony Early’s showcase above the rim off the bench.

Early also has a death wish, by the way:

It was Tavares trying to set a new tone to start the second half, turning away a shot almost immediately out of the half. The Warriors weren’t having it, though, and their lead slowly swelled to 10 before the 905 woke up midway through the third quarter. In a blink – hey, defense-free games have their benefits – the lead was trimmed to one, where it stood entering the fourth. After only giving up 23 points in the third quarter, a mark akin to zero compared to the first two frames.

From there, this was about a fun a game you could hope to be watching at 12:30 a.m. on your second game of coverage on the night. The two sides traded buckets and traded mini-runs, and each of the 905’s primary pieces got an opportunity to try to swing the game back their way. John Jordan brought a nice two-way spark to start the frame. Yanick Moreira bullied his way to the line and dominated on the glass. Brady Heslip heated up from downtown. But when the 905 got close, the Warriors would pull away ever so slightly, like when Early ended a run with a big bucket and then a block on Leslie the other way, turning a potential 905 lead into another five-point hole. And in a blink, it was back down to one. Like I said, fun.

Finally, a Will Sheehey three (a Will Threehey, if you will) brought the 905 back to even with 4:15 to go, and then Jordan and Early traded and-ones to set up the final three minutes coming out of a timeout. Short of a Toupane drive, though, the 905 were out of gas. Phil Pressey took over with a three and a trip to the line (he also tied a franchise record with six steals, shout out to Aaron Craft), and after Singler hit a runner, LaDontae Henton answered back with a very clutch triple. That was enough in the closing moments to turn things to the fouling game, and the 905 ran out of mini-comebacks to make.

Late on a long west coast trip, that’s understandable. It’s not as if this is a pattern, or something the 905 can expect much from here. They remain 31-10 overall, tops in the D-League, and they’re a ridiculous 16-3 on the road even after this disappointing finish. Sure, their nine-game winning streak comes to an end, and their recent air of invincibility dissipates a bit, but they still have the inside track on home court through the entire postseason, and they’ll get a chance to bounce back as they close out their trip Friday. The bumps are a lot easier to handle when they’ve come so infrequently, and they may even be welcome as the 905 look to ready themselves for a championship run.



  • Bruno Caboclo sat this one out due to a shoulder injury. There’s no indication it’s anything major – the team is only saying it’s a “shoulder injury” – and Caboclo remains on the road with the team. He appeared to be in good spirits Wednesday, posting everyone’s warmups on Instagram Story, completely with captions.
  • I mentioned this in the pre-game Raptors notes, but congratulations to Jarrod Uthoff, who has parlayed a trade from the 905 into a 10-day contract with the Dallas Mavericks. It just wasn’t happening for him here, with Stackhouse’s deep rotation and the team’s deep frontcourt, and it’s nice to see him succeeding elsewhere. He has a lot of likable tools in his game.
    • If you’ve ever wondered if the “we want our guys to get called up to the NBA, even if it costs our D-League team” attitude was just lip service from the Raptors (regarding Axel Toupane, mostly), there was an illuminating interview with Warriors general manager Kirk Lacob during the broadcast with respect to Phil Pressey. If you closed your eyes, you could have swore it was 905 GM Dan Tolzman talking Toupane or Edy Tavares. It’s nice to see NBA teams genuinely rooting for players in their system they have no NBA claim to – and therefore don’t stand to tangibly benefit from developing – to get promoted and make it to (or back to) the NBA. The D-League can’t operate unless there’s that collective commitment to just helping players develop, outside of just self-interest.
  • I know I sound like a broken record at this point, but I still can’t get over, an entire season in, how poorly the Facebook Live streams run. late in the game, the stream was three minutes of game action behind. Something has to give for next season.
  • Copying this here from the Raptors-Pelicans pre-game post: Since it’s International Women’s Day, shout out to Shelby Weaver, Nicki Gross, Teresa Resch, and all of the awesome women in the Raptors’ organization, as well as Meghan McPeak, the terrific voice of the 905, and the host of amazing women who cover the team regularly (Holly MacKenzie, Lori Ewing, Rachel Brady, Kayla Grey, and I’m surely missing a bunch more going off the top of my head). And to Kat Stefankiewicz, who is just the best in her role as in-game host and general, smiling face of the entire Raptors community. They all bring such amazing energy to the overall Raptors experience, and while they deserve praise and respect every day, today’s a good impetus to show them some extra appreciation.
  • This is random, but remember earlier in the year when the 905 set the D-League attendance record? It’s been broken twice since then, once by these Warriors and then again Wednesday by Oklahoma City. They packed 17,695 in for a game, a number the 905 will be hard-pressed to match even at the ACC.
  • The 905 are short on home games once they’re back off of this trip, but if you wanted to attend March 13 at the Air Canada Centre, or March 18 and 30 at Hershey Centre, you can go to this link and use the promo code REPUBLIC905 for a discount. And yes, that’s it for home games. They’ve already played 22. Not that the road-heavy end to the season should scare them given their 15-2 record away from home so far.

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