Photo credit: Christian Bonin / TSGphoto.com
Raptors 905 107, Sioux Falls Skyforce 108 (OT) | Box Score
Assignees: Bruno Caboclo (905), A.J. Hammons (Skyforce)
Two-ways: Malcolm Miller, Lorenzo Brown (905), Derrick Walton Jr., Derrick Jones Jr. (Skyforce)
Raptors 905 entered the G League Showcase looking to put the league on notice. Their reputation hadn’t caught up to their record after a 5-10 start turned into a 10-game winning streak, and with a sweep at the Showcase, the 905 would be able to set a franchise-best mark for consecutive wins while beating a couple of quality teams. That went to form Thursday against the Santa Cruz Warriors.
Saturday, though, saw the 905 streak come to an end thanks to a spirited, well-played, and ultimately heartbreaking 108-107 overtime loss to the Sioux Falls Skyforce.
“I thought we did some good things throughout the course of the game. It came down to the end, they made a few more plays than we did,” head coach Jerry Stackhouse said. “I don’t think it was a lack of effort or a lack of trying, we got the right there to the basket a couple times and the ball came out on us. The ball bounces funny sometimes and that was the way it bounced tonight. Pretty good run, now it’s just time to regroup and try to get it going again.”
The 905 came out smooth on offense, with Lorenzo Brown playing his maestro role perfectly. He had two nice buckets early, but it was the six assists in his first six minutes that stood out. Brown completely carried over his playmaking from late in Thursday’s game, dishing difficult pocket passes and finding his role man with impeccable timing. Kennedy Meeks was a big beneficiary with nine first-quarter points, and Bruno Caboclo showed where his length can come into play on offense, reaching to corral a very low pass and still finish at the rim in stride (he also had a nice steal using that same length). The great point guard play bled into the bench, where Kaza Keane brought a nice energy and finished a pair of tough layups high off window, something that’s normally been a weakness for him.
The defense was slower to get into its usual groove, a minor surprise since Sioux Falls is middling at that end. Derrick Jones Jr., who the Toronto Raptors saw plenty of Tuesday, provided some good minutes scoring in a handful of ways, while Ike Nwamu helped the 905 settle in by taking a number of tough shots in a 1-of-7 quarter. The Skyforce would finish with 22 points on 24 possessions, a fine mark for the 905, who dominated the glass as usual. The early mix of success at both ends had them up 12 after a single frame.
The second brought more of the same from the full-bench unit, with Fuquan Edwin forcing a turnover to go the other way and Shevon Thompson stopping Alonzo Gee at the rim. Sioux Falls found their stroke a bit from there, hitting consecutive 3-pointers after a 2-of-9 first quarter that Kuran Iverson happily answered. The 905 actually shot pretty well from outside for the second time this week, and that helped them keep Sioux Falls at arm’s length for most of the quarter. They had some nice defensive stretches, too – Caboclo had a great block on the red-hot Jones Jr., and Meeks switched capably on the baseline and turned one way. Jones Jr. was a big problem, though, scoring 19 in the half, and while Brown picked a pocket for a late transition layup, Derrick Walton Jr. beat the buzzer to pull Sioux Falls within two at the break.
Caboclo got things going in the third with an early tip-in that stood out as an aberration after a few minutes. The 905 defense struggled to get back and force Sioux Falls into their sets, slowing them down, largely because the Skyforce were running off of a lot of 905 misses. Caboclo did have a nice quarter, though, throwing a nice pass, hitting the offensive glass, scoring on a nifty post-up, and nailing a pair of threes. Sioux Falls were able to finally take their first lead of the game, and the two sides traded it from there. It was the defense getting it done for both teams here after a high-scoring first half. The pace really got grinded down, too, something that normally plays to the 905’s favor. Here, instead, it didn’t seem to give either team the juice, though the 905 did increase their lead to ) entering the fourth on a Davion Berry buzzer-beater.
The game got pretty physical from there. The Force clearly wanted to seal off the rim, and they through bodies to accomplish that. Keane managed to sneak through for a tough layup once but Berry landed hard and Aaron Best did the same, at least earning a trip to the free-throw line. That aggression from the bench guards helped the 905 stay a possession or two ahead until the starters, used a little less than usual to this point in the game, were ready to try to close things out. When head coach Jerry Stackhouse did dip back into his starting lineup, he did so with a six-point lead and six minutes to go. It was a pivotal holding stretch for the second unit, one that proved to be the difference in keeping the lead and preserving minutes for Brown, who was playing a half-night with a double-header ahead of him.
Stackhouse closed with Keane, Best, Malcolm Miller, Caboclo, and Meeks, and Meeks proved a problem inside, finishing a Miller pass, getting to the line, and then scoring on a spin-move in the post. The 905 didn’t find the defensive gear to end it early, instead relying on scoring nearly every time down to close out. That was problematic, as after the first miss in a while, Walton Jr. made it a one-possession game with a three. He and Best traded trip sto the line, and Stackhouse then went small to try to get a stop, with Caboclo at center. Alonzo Gee tied it up finishing through strong Miller defense, and an out-of-timeout play got Caboclo a clean look at a game-winning three that didn’t drop.
“Yeah, we got a great look out of it. Just didn’t go down,’ Stackhouse said.
Overtime saw Stackhouse go back to the same fivesome mentioned above, and Nwamu opened with a three. Keane responded with a layup but missed a second, and with two-minute overtime rules in the G League, Sioux Falls had a major opportunity to take control out of a timeout. The 905 defended well and forced Gee into a late, contested three, only for him to get his own rebound and find Walton Jr. for a tough bucket. The 905 had one last chance, down three out of a timeout with 20 seconds left. Keane got a double-screen that turned into a flare for Caboclo, which Sioux Falls defended well. Caboclo attacked, a mistake up three, and the Skyforce tipped the ball out of bounds. The 905 had one last effort with 1.4 to go but couldn’t get anyone open above the arc, settling for a two that wasn’t enough.
“I thought we gotta be a little bit more aware of time and score situation,” Stackhouse said.” “I thought we had a couple looks that were maybe marginal passes to the corner but those are the plays you gotta make when you only got a second or two left. You gotta try to squeeze that ball in thee and at least get a look. But it’s a good game for us to learn from.”
The 905 didn’t seem too down from the streak snapping, as much as they wanted to continue the run. While they’ll lament having two one-point losses bookending a streak that could have been longer, they also acknowledged that the way the ball bounces sometimes may have helped them a few times during the streak. What’s more important to them is that they don’t feel they’ve been outright outplayed by a team that’s better in some time, and so as they push toward the playoffs – they’re in a wild card spot, 2.5 games back of the Atlantic Division lead – their belief in the system and their own progress remains strong despite the misstep here.
- Assignment notes
- The Raptors changed course Wednesday, deciding to send assignment players to the Showcase for the first time. Alfonzo McKinnie was kept with the Raptors here, though. He’s a little banged up and missed practice Friday.
- Bruno Caboclo had a bad last three minutes, it’s true. He missed a very good look to win the game, then made a poor decision attacking with the shot-clock off and the team in need of three points, ultimately having the ball tipped out of bounds. To that point, though, he’d been great. He finished with 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting, finishing inside off of offensive rebounds and taking the three with confidence, He continued showing flashes of improvement as a passer, too, making reads he wouldn’t have even a few months ago on his way to three assists. He added three steals and a block for good measure.
- Other 905 player notes
- Lorenzo Brown was capped at 19 minutes here due to his likely involvement in the Raptors’ game later on. His absence was felt pretty clearly in the fourth and overtime. He still managed five rebounds and nine assists in what amounted to half a game.
- Malcolm Miller drew into the starting lineup and shot the ball poorly but had a pretty strong afternoon defending. His shot’s still as up and down as you’d expect on the comeback trail. The defense hasn’t been nearly as streaky, and he had a nice weekend hitting the glass.
- Negus Webster-Chan drew the start in his return from a knee injury that had cost him all but six games this season…Kaza Keane assumed heavier point-guard duties and dished 10 assists to go with 12 points. He still has growth to make late in games, but this was a nice showing in expanded minutes…Kennedy Meeks and Shevon Thompson combined for 24 points and 18 rebounds, which I feel like I should just copy and paste here every game now.
- Skyforce notes: Alonzo Gee is still around and scored a quiet 16 here, as veterans do…Derrick Jones Jr. was a damn problem, putting up 30-10-5 on only 14 field-goal attempts. The Heat got a steal here when the Suns somewhat inexplicably cut him to open up a scoring-guard carousel on the roster…Derrick Walton Jr. was great, too, with 25-7-10…Consider me less impressed with A.J. Hammons, who couldn’t grab a rebound all night against Stackhouse’s large sons.
- The 905 now hit the road for two games before returning home Jan. 22. A friendly reminder that promo code “REPUBLIC905” will get you a discount at this link all season long.