Photo credit: Christian Bonin / TSGphoto.com
Raptors 905 104 def. Windy City Bulls 99 | Box score
Assignees: Bruno Caboclo (905). Christiano Felicio, Kay Felder (Bulls)
Two-ways: Malcolm Miller (905). Ryan Arcidiacano (Bulls), Antonio Blakeney (Bulls)
The Raptors 905 came out determined to put away the misery of an overtime loss the previous night. The finish wasn’t pretty on the second night of a back-to-back, but they’ve played three very good games after losing seven of eight.
Malcolm Miller kept his hot hand going by opening the scoring with a catch-and-shoot three, before Bruno Caboclo added a triple of his own. The 905 jumped out to a 10-2 start, and furthered the advantage to 27-11 with Miller, Caboclo, and Aaron Best combining for all but two of those points.
Kaza Keane has really hit his stride for the 905. Averaging 11.3 assists over his last three games, he found Aaron Best for both his three-point hits in the opening quarter, and added a nice dish to Caboclo for a right-handed jam during the opening burst. He finished with 10 assists for the game.
The second quarter took the game from bad to worse for the Windy City Bulls, as a 19-4 start for the 905 swelled the lead to 30, when Kay Felder summed up the Bulls night perfectly. With the score reading 50-20, he went up for a put-back slam off a Cristiano Felicio miss, but fell flat on the floor after missing the dunk attempt. At five-foot-nine, you have to at least appreciate the effort.
It may have got the 905 thinking they could take their foot off the gas a bit, as Felder made a couple of triples that helped cut the lead down to 23. Head coach Jerry Stackhouse didn’t like the drop-off in intensity one bit and called a timeout right away and went back to his starting five.
The stoppage in play didn’t have the desired effect, though, as Felder and Antonio Blakeney kept their tails up and helped cut the lead all the way down to 16. While the former Cavalier was chiefly responsible for the late run, it was Blakeney who kept the Bulls from completely getting blown out in their own gym with 18 points for the half.
Blakeney arguably had the highlight of the game with about eight minutes remaining in the third quarter when he beat his man off the bounce before throwing it down with authority. He finished with 37 points and nine rebounds.
With the Bulls looking like they had the wind in their sails heading into the final possession of the half, it was crucial for the 905 to quell some of it with a positive finish. Keane came through yet again, breaking down the defense and sucking them in on a drive before kicking out to a wide-open Best in the corner. A Bulls defender fouled him as he rushed out to contest, and the former Ryerson Ram made all three free-throws to end the half.
The steady lead allowed some minutes for newcomer Fuquan Edwin, and made his present felt in the early fourth quarter. He showcased a smooth outside stroke on a spot-up three, an Isaiah Thomas-like pull-up off the bounce with his legs almost in a running motion as he elevated, stole the ball at the other end, before breaking down his man on the other end and getting fouled on a reverse layup attempt. Shevon Thompson was another positive off the bench with 12 points and nine rebounds.
The feel good moments ended there. The 905 were leading 100-78 with just under six minutes remaining when the Bulls stormed back, going on a 14-0 run. There was just under a minute remaining at this point, though, and Keane put the final nail in the coffin with a layup.
When the Bulls look back on their night, they’ll know it was the sloppiness and lack of energy from their starting unit that cost them. They made 17 of the team’s 18 turnovers on the night, with 12 of the team’s miscues coming in the first half.
This could very easily be three straight wins for the 905 if not for the heartbreaking one-point loss Friday night, but enough has transpired on the court to see that this team can turn around this season yet.
- Assignment notes
- Bruno Caboclo finished with 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting and four rebounds, disappointing after scoring 10 in just the opening few minutes. Things got a little heated between him and Tyler Harris late in the game, as the two got entangled fighting for position inside. Double-techs were issued, and there was nothing more to it. Always nice to see the fiery side.
- 905 notes
- Aaron Best and Kaza Keane had matching baseline drives that ended in reverse layups. Insert spidermantwins.jpeg. I am very much a fan of playing them together and Best’s smooth outside lefty stroke combined with Keane’s tough-as-nails approach is the lite version of Fred VanVleet and C.J. Miles.
- Malcolm Miller is looking terrific since his return from tagging along with the Raptors for their west coast road trip. You have to wonder just how much an experience like that with guys at the highest level and getting a taste of the NBA life does for an up-and-coming player. Whether it’s that, just being more comfortable with the team and his game shape, or just a change in whatever he’s eating for breakfast, bottle it up and keep it going.
- Davion Berry made his return from a team imposed suspension for violating 905 policy and finished with 11 points and four steals in 23 minutes. As Blake Murphy mentioned in the recap on Dec.13, there is no information available to the media on what the violation was.
- Bulls notes
- Kay Felder finished with 11 points, five assists, and two rebounds. He had a slow start (as did everyone not named Antonio Blakeney for the Bulls) but came on pretty strong after. It’s always fun watching a guy his size go up against the trees.
- Cristiano Felicio had a positive night, finishing with 22 points, 13 rebounds, four blocks and three steals. The Bulls rewarded him with a four-year, $32 million contract this offseason and he’s been assigned to find his game. He was averaging just four points and 2.9 rebounds for the parent club and hadn’t featured of late with Chicago finding a rhythm after the return of Nikola Mirotic.
- Pretty sure Ryan Arcidiacano is actually Kirk Hinrich.
- Promo code “REPUBLIC905” will get you a discount at this link all season long.