Photo credit: Christian Bonin / TSGphoto.com
Raptors 905 99, Greensboro Swarm 92| Box Score
Assignees: Bruno Caboclo, Alfonzo McKinnie (905), None (Swarm)
Two-ways: Malcolm Miller (905), Lorenzo Brown (905), Mangok Mathiang (Swarm), Marcus Paige (Swarm)
This was a new test for the 905. Can a team that is quite recently coming off of a 10-0 run need to prove itself? It felt that way for the 905, losers of their last two, and 0-2 on the season against Greensboro. The most recent of those two losses was an overtime loss on on December 15th, before the winning streak began. Without Jalen Jones, recently departed for Dallas, the Swarm proved to not have enough honey to compete with the 905.
The 905 were almost whole, with Lorenzo Brown returning to the team, but Alfonzo McKinnie with the Raptors. Malcolm Miller replaced McKinnie in the starting lineup, but the bodies manning the 905 wings didn’t matter early. The first four 905 baskets came from Meeks in the paint, who was dominating. Whether on put-backs or out of the pick and roll, Meeks had his way on the offensive end early. Caboclo also made a statement early with a massive block in the half-court.
Marcus Paige – who dominated the 905 last time around – wasted no time putting the Swarm ahead 9-8 upon checking in midway through the first quarter. Mangok Mathiang patrolled the paint well for the Swarm, blocking one shot and altering several others. With his dominance on one end, and the traditionally-stifling 905 defence on the other, the game was ugly. Many points came through put-backs or broken plays, and few jumpshots were falling for either side.
A Malcolm Miller layup on a gorgeous drive (and maaaybe euro step?) put the 905 ahead 17-11, its largest lead yet of the game. Shevon Thompson was able to add some excitement to the game a few minutes later while spiking a Swarm shot into the stands.
— Raptors 905 (@Raptors905) January 20, 2018
On the other end, a Miller corner 3 pushed the lead to 9. Another Miller 3 – this time from the top of the key – scorched the twine with only 7 seconds remaining, All told, the 905 finished the 1st quarter with 10 offensive rebounds (4 each to the co-center monsters of Meeks and Thompson) and only 3 made 3s, all courtesy of Miller.
Shevon Thompson started the 2nd quarter with a gorgeous post-up, continuing the 905 trend of dominating in the paint. Thompson was drawn out of the paint on defence by Luke Petrasek, who knocked in a 3 for the Swarm’s first basket of the quarter. Petrasek hit a few more before the quarter would be through. With Lorenzo on the bench to start the quarter, the 905 had trouble scoring for a stretch. They twice stepped out of bounds on 3-point attempts, and shots weren’t falling. A Sam Thompson 3 and Mathiang putback in transition cut the lead to 7, but Meeks scored on a broken play to keep the 905 afloat. Davion Berry, who generally splits playmaking duties with Kaza Keane when Lorenzo sits, hit a gorgeous top-of-the-key 3 to prompt a Swarm timeout.
And then Lorenzo came back in. He’s simply so dominant, even when he has trouble scoring (which is almost never, even if it happened tonight). He opened up this stretch with a gorgeous dime to Kennedy Meeks, and he followed it up with a post-up fadeaway from the free throw line (he can do that?). Perhaps looking to juice the offence, Stackhouse put Berry back in the game to play alongside Lorenzo, and the two immediately drew enough defence to allow an open corner 3 from Caboclo. A few Terry Henderson triples for the Swarm kept the game close, but a Lorenzo Brown assist to Berry in the corner pushed the lead back to 12. All told, the 905 took half up 54-44, but the Swarm offence relied on sub-30% 3-point shooters hitting shots. Meeks already had a double-double with 16-11, and Brown notched 7 assists in the first half.
Caboclo struggled with his shot in the first half, and that continued early in the 3rd quarter. He missed an 3, bringing his successes to only 1/7 on the game. On the other end, a back-cut for Petrasek cut the lead to just 4. Despite Meeks’ dominant first half, he fell asleep several times on defence in the early 3rd. The 905’s offence was no better. In fact, it took the 905 4 minutes, 20 seconds to score in the second half, finally breaking the ice on Miller free throws.. Caboclo missed a lot of jumpers, man. He finally hit a 3 after a Lorenzo offensive rebound to push the lead back up to 6. Marcus Paige immediately answered with his first made 3 (on his 5th attempt). Best responded with a 3 for the 905. Then Barber. Jumpshots finally started falling! A fun game!
Brown later notched his 10th assist on a pretty dime to Shevon Thompson for the dunk. Later, the 905 airballed two 3 balls in one possession. It quickly had turned into a circus. Kaza Keane checked in for Lorenzo, and he immediately drew an offensive foul on an illegal screen. He shook off the hard fall to…. euro step his way into an airballed floater. Eliminating the silliness, Fuquan Edwin hit a corner 3 with under a minute left in the corner, and the 905 led 71-68 after a Terry Henderson 3 for the Swarm.
Heading into the 4th, the Swarm were 10-21 from 3, and the 905 were only 8-28 (Caboclo already missed 7 by himself); the Swarm’s jumpshooting was their only advantage. This wouldn’t change, though Edwin immediately hit another triple. He followed it up with a steal and fastbreak layup. Keane provided some solid 4th quarter minutes, as he pushed the ball up the court after corralling the defensive rebound, getting Toronto into their sets early. The offence responded, as the 905 ballooned their lead to 81-70 with 9:00 remaining. This was all with Lorenzo on the bench, which is a huge sign for the 905, who usually struggle without Brown.
Then another Petrasek 3! Blake had some words about this man.
Raptors 905 currently getting torched by Meth Plumlee
— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) January 20, 2018
It was a time of high stress.
Luke Petrasek absolutely swatted Shevon Thompson, but the refs called a foul on Mathiang to put Shevon to the line. Miller pushed the lead further with a transition 3 followed by a steal and dunk. The 905’s handsy defence kept the Swarm from closing the gap. Countless passes or awkward dribbles were tipped either out of bounds or for steals. Cat Barber – who had made 6 3s all season coming into the game – was fouled on a 3-point attempt and made all his freebies. Though Lorenzo Brown wasn’t shooting well, he still made winning plays for the 905. After missing a 3, he chased down his own rebound and immediately rotated the ball to Meeks under the, who was fouled in the act.
Tensions increased. Another Terry Henderson 3 with only 90 seconds remaining cut the lead to 3, but Caboclo made a 3 (why was he still taking them?) to keep the lead safe. After a monstrous block on the defensive end for Lorenzo, absolutely denying Barber with 22 seconds left, it was all over but the fouling.
With the win, the 905 pushed their record to 16-12. They were the better team tonight from tip to close. Despite outrageously hot shooting from the Swarm (45% from 3, on 31 attempts), the 905 victory never truly felt jeopardized. This was a classic Stackhouse victory: slow game, predicated on defence. Not always fun to watch, but if the 905 are going to win another ‘ship, this is how it’ll happen.
- Assignment notes
- Bruno had a rough game. Yes, he hit a big 3, but his shot was off most of the night. He also drove more than often, but with his usual success (zilch). He needs to diversify his offensive contributions. He also only finished with 3 rebounds, which is odd, because he’s 7 feet tall. Keane had 5 rebounds in 1/3 of the minutes. I shouldn’t pick on him, but the 905 won this game despite Bruno.
- McKinnie was with the Raps.
- Other 905 player notes:
- Lorenzo Brown is awesome. Even on a night when his shot wasn’t falling (reeeaally not falling, as he finished 3/15 and 0/4 from 3), he can contribute in countless other ways. He just dominates the offence, making the right pass always. Tonight it seemed like he had a dozen dimes robbed from him as shooters missed open shots, but he still finished with 14 (on only 3 turnovers). He has every pass in the book: bouncer through the lane in the pick and roll, over-the-shoulder lasers to shooters all over the floor, lobs, fakes, everything. Amazing.
- Malcolm Miller is all-the-way back. He finished with 20p-9r, with 4 made 3s. He can score on the dribble and with his jumpshot, which is as smooth as they come.
- Meeks dominated again, with 18p-14r. He is improving so quickly this year. He’ll be an NBA center soon.
- The 905 crushed the Swarm in Davion Berry’s minutes, who finished with a +13 in 24 minutes. When he is playing alongside Lorenzo, the offence looks amazing. He can handle, shoot, and pass. Dude’s smooth like smooth peanut butter.
- Swarm notes:
- Luke Petrasek hit 4 3s. Terry Henderson hit 4 3s. Cat Barber hit 2. Henderson is the best of those shooters, at 36%. Barber is at 21% on the season. Marcus Paige, who is the best shooter on the Swarm, shot 2-10 from 3. Life is weird. That’s what I got.
- The 905 are at home on Monday the 22nd. A reminder that promo code “REPUBLIC905” will get you a discount at this link all season long.