Miller and 905 continue trending upward, ease past Stars

Raptors 905 99 def. Salt Lake City Stars 87| Box score
Assignees: Bruno Caboclo, Alfonzo McKinnie (905).
Two-ways: Malcolm Miller, Lorenzo Brown (905). Eric Griffin, Nate Wolters (Stars).

  • Bear in mind that there was no box score available online, so don’t be surprised if you check the hyperlink and there’s still nothing.

When the Raptors 905 announced their starting five for the game tonight, one of two things could have happened. There could have been a level of disconnect as Lorenzo Brown and Alfonzo McKinnie were making their returns to the starting five which could have disrupted some of the rhythm Kaza Keane and Aaron Best had established. Or, they could have slotted in perfectly and played the same style of team ball while providing the talent upgrades that they are.

It was the latter, by a long way. The 905 jumped out early, pushed the lead further in the third quarter, and romped to a 99-87 victory over the Salt Lake City Stars.

Through the struggles of this 2017-18 season, one aspect of the 905’s game that has carried over from last season has been their defense. Keane has looked more and more comfortable in the G League and has clearly come to terms with the way this league is officiated after dealing with foul trouble early in the season.

Watching him dig into the air space of his man and allow no breathing room whatsoever is art for the purists. One of his several deflections came early in the second quarter, when he completely swarmed Deonte Burton all the way up the court before forcing a turnover. He attacked down towards the 905 basket but has his shot swatted against the glass. Bruno Caboclo was Johnny-on-the-spot and threw down a two-handed tomahawk.

Brown, returning to the point guard spot that Keane had so admirably performed in over the past four games, ensured the rhythm wasn’t lost with seven first-half assists. This was particularly good to see, as Brown has had to juggle being more of a distributor along with his natural ability to score this season. He finished with 16 points, 14 assists, and seven rebounds in 37 minutes for the night.

The 905 forced 14 first half turnovers and the Stars shot 23 per cent in the first half. While the aggression they displayed on that end didn’t necessarily carry over to the offense, they didn’t necessarily need it.

Malcolm Miller, who has been an absolute flame thrower over the past few games, was unconscious in this one yet again, even pulling up in the second quarter from Steph Curry territory to knock down a triple.  He had 16 of his 22 points in the first half, and seems to have the ball on a string right now.

All told, the 905 took a 49-32 lead into the half, and the second half would be a test of avoiding the let-ups they’ve had in the past two games, surrendering a big lead to the Greensboro Swarm on one occasion, and hanging on for a five-point win after leading by as many as 30 against the Windy City Bulls.

Eric Griffin sent out some warning signs early, knocking down three straight triples to cut into the 905 lead, but whatever Jerry Stackhouse said during the timeout definitely got through to his squad. They came out and put the game beyond doubt with a run that was inspired by that man Miller again. Is it too soon to start saying it’s Miller time?

We really need to talk about this again. His stroke was so pure tonight it was incredible. When the net barely moves when you’re shooting from long distance, that’s when you know you’re red hot.

With the 905 having the most talent available tonight that they’ve had all season, it was great to see the team finish with 29 assists. The ball was moving for the majority of the game, and although there were a few lulls, that was more attributable to the lopsided nature of the game than the Stars imposing a high level of defensive resistance.

This team is taking advantage of its schedule right now, and hopefully that builds the momentum before they face some of the more challenging teams on the schedule.

  • Assignment notes
    • Bruno Caboclo didn’t have to manage the lion’s share of the workload and he didn’t try to force the issue. He was good on the defensive end, including a left-handed swat in the final minutes of the fourth quarter to finish with three for the game.
    • Alfonzo McKinnie looked up for this one when he skied to make a poster out of a sorry Star soul in the very first quarter. He was fouled and went to the line, but as with the rest of his night, the touch wasn’t there. He missed both free throws and all three of his three-point attempts, finishing with four points on 2-of-9 shooting. He did have nine rebounds though.
  • 905 notes
    • Kennedy Meeks is such a wide body and shows some pretty good hands on catches inside. He finished with 16 points and seven rebounds.
    • Fred VanVleet showed some love for the squad and watched the game.

  • Salt Lake City Stars
    • Nate Wolters was on the roster and received a DNP-CD. I checked back for a couple of the Stars box scores and this isn’t his first one.
    • Eric Griffin looked pretty good during that hot streak from beyond the arc and had 23 points and 10 rebounds overall.
    • Canadian and Mississauga native Naz Mitrou-Long finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, but shot 2-for-12 from three and 4-of-16 overall.

Finally, remember that promo code “REPUBLIC905” will get you a discount at this link all season long.

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