PPhoto credit: Trung Ho / TrungHo.ca
Raptors 905 119, Long Island Nets 125 | Box Score
Assignees: Bruno Caboclo, Alfonzo McKinnie (905), None (Nets)
Two-ways: Lorenzo Brown, Malcolm Miller (905), Milton Doyle (Nets)
Well, that was unexpected.
With Raptors 905 visiting the Long Island Nets on Tuesday, every piece of evidence pointed to a grittier, low-scoring game. While the Nets like to push the pace and the 905 prefer to grind things out, the two sides have one important similarity: They win with defense. They’re the G League’s only two teams allowing fewer than 100 points per-100 possessions, relying heavily on their ability to get stops to fuel the offense. For the Nets, that means pushing in transition, as their half-court offense may be the worst in the league (they’re dead last in offensive rating). For the 905, it’s about running off of those misses and settling down if an early look isn’t there – they’re the slowest-paced team by a significant margin.
That interesting clash of elite defenses and contrasting styles was thrown out the window almost immediately, the teams almost unrecognizable by the end of a raucous 125-119 victory for the Nets. Neither side played to form, with the 905 allowing a poor Nets offense to shoot 54 percent overall and get to the line 23 times and the 905 shooting 49 percent. Both teams scored well above their season rates per-possession, and the statistical battle was pretty even across most fronts.
If there was an advantage gained by flipping the script to an offensive showdown, it went to the Nets, who were better able to dictate the pace here. The game had an estimated 106 possessions, far quicker than what the 905 would prefer. They did well with that tempo, committing just 12 turnovers and surrendering only seven offensive rebounds, but there’s value for a team like the Nets in playing the style with which their comfortable, and that seemed to provide them a stabilizing force in the close-out fourth quarter (after pace was a big part of their comeback and takeover across the second and third).
Really, though, this game came down to one otherworldly performance separating the two teams. They shot close to even, they both hit threes and free throws, rebounded similarly, and so on. On this night, the Nets had Milton Doyle and the 905 did not. Doyle was monstrous here, and the on/off numbers tell the story – the Nets outscored the 905 by 21 in Doyle’s 39 minutes and were outscored by 15 in the other nine minutes of the game. The 905, despite all of their defensive abilities, had no answer once Doyle got going from outside. He’d ultimately hit 11 threes on 15 attempts, and as the 905 dialed up the attention to try to slow him down, he shifted to facilitating, dishing 11 assists. He’d complete the triple-double with 10 rebounds, corralling 905 misses and sprinting in the other direction to attack a still-setting defense.
Early, it looked like Doyle may not be enough. Even as he cruised to 13 first-quarter points, the 905 were ahead 13. Malcolm Miller had scored 11 points in just seven minutes on perfect shooting, and a Lorenzo Brown-and-bench unit ripped off a 19-3 run that required the Nets to go back to Doyle after only a quick breather. It seemed the game might go to form from there, a soaring 905 team that had won 17 of its last 21 opening a big lead early and cruising against even a quality opponent, their defense precluding a comeback. Obviously, that wasn’t to be – Doyle scored 10 more in the second quarter and dished five assists, the Nets shot 71 percent in the frame, and no 905 player other than Miller could really maintain a groove offensively. Their early lead had been erased almost entirely by the break.
The third quarter was more of the same. Doyle shifted back to scorer mode and let Shannon Scott handle the point guard duties a bit more, with Jeremy Senglin chipping in off the bench for additional punch. The 905, meanwhile, drew cold from outside, and Jerry Stackhouse went deep on his bench looking for an offensive spark from Negus Webster-Chan, who picked up two quick fouls and didn’t get a look from outside. Brown did his damnedest to keep the 905 within striking distance, scoring eight points on three field-goal attempts, but most of the shots he was creating for teammates fell off the mark. Even Miller, red-hot in the first half, was taken out of the game some as the Nets worked to deny him the ball on the perimeter. Were it not for a number of offensive rebounds producing buckets, the 905 may have been out of it entirely.
As it was, they trailed six entering the fourth, setting up an entertaining close-out quarter that at least resembled the teams’ usual styles to a degree. The 905 still struggled to score, buoyed instead by an aggressive pressure scheme that goaded the Nets into seven turnovers down the stretch. Brown worked seamlessly between scorer and facilitator, Alfonzo McKinnie showed up with a big quarter, and the 905 did a good job the other way of turning Doyle into something resembling a human. Kamari Murphy stepped up as Doyle drew the additional attention. The Nets’ lead grew to 13 at one point before the 905 responded with a 7-2 run, and when it hit 11 again, the 905 battled back with an 8-3 run. They kept chipping closer, even cutting the lead to a single possession with three minutes to go when Brown and Davion Berry connected in short order.
A timeout did little to settle things for Long Island, as Murphy lost the ball out of bounds on the next possession, only for Doyle to get it right back with a steal he took the other way. Brown responded with a steal and a dunk of his own, and the 905 were back within two with two minutes to play. The defense couldn’t get that last stop it needed to complete the comeback – Murphy and Doyle sandwiched threes around a Brown charge and a big offensive rebound for the Nets helped them chew up extra clock. The 905 ran out of time from there, a disappointing end after a hot start but the type of competitive game against a quality team – on a back-to-back no less – that should help them learn and get better from here.
- Assignment notes
- Bruno Caboclo had one of his worst games of the season here, and he wore it a bit as the game went on. Stackhouse capped him at 23 minutes due to an unsightly minus-19 mark, as Caboclo’s usual defensive impact never presented itself. He also couldn’t get much going offensively, shooting 3-of-12 overall and 0-of-6 on threes while committing two turnovers. The six rebounds were nice, at least. These games happen, especially on the second night of a back-to-back, but it’d be nice to see him string a few strong performances together. He’s been much better about not letting off nights shooting effect his defense, so this is more anomaly than pattern.
- Alfonzo McKinnie followed up a terrific showing Monday with a quieter outing here, one that didn’t see him shoot the ball well until late. He finished with 13 points on 14 possessions and hit a pair of threes as he continues to flirt with the 40-percent mark from long-range. He also added seven rebounds, two assists, and a steal, and was an even plus-minus in 29 minutes.
- Other 905 player notes
- Lorenzo Brown did his best to match Doyle in what was a really fun individual battle. Doyle has a pronounced edge as an established 3-point shooter with a much quicker trigger, though, and Brown filling it up from the mid-range and in the paint couldn’t quite keep up. He was still the 905’s best all-around player with 25 points, 13 assists,a nd six steals, he just lost a rare battle with a point guard who got even hotter here. Hard to win ’em all when a 37-percent shooter goes 11-of-15.
- Malcolm Miller was tremendous, easily the biggest bright spot for the 905 here. Hitting 6-of-8 on threes obviously stands out – he’s up to 39.1 percent on the year – but he also attacked closeouts well, kept the ball moving within the offense, and came up with a big offensive rebound during a Nets run. He finished with 26 points on just 14 possessions, his fifth 20-plus point game of the season and his third in the last three weeks.
- Kennedy Meeks had a nice 11-and-11 double-double with four assists and a team-best plus-8…Davion Berry and Shevon Thompson both scored in double-figures, though the bench as a whole was off it’s game here.
- Nets notes: Milton Doyle turned in maybe the best G League performance I’ve seen all year with a massive 42-10-11 triple-double that also included a pair of steals and a pair of blocks. He had help – five other Nets scored in double-figures and former 905er Shannon Scott had a double-double with 10 assists – but this was the Milton Doyle show. He hit 11 threes! This is right there with Brown’s 36-11-11 game. Doyle used 31.2 percent of the team’s possessions with a 92.3 true-shooting percentage and a 44-percent assist rate. That combination of numbers is unfathomable. Awesome, awesome showing.
- The 905 are in New York a while longer before heading to Lakeland for a Saturday game. They return home Monday. A friendly reminder that promo code “REPUBLIC905” will get you a discount at this link all season long.