Photo credit: Christian Bonin / TSGphoto.com
Raptors 905 91, Lakeland Magic 77| Box Score
Assignees: Alfonzo McKinnie (905), none, (Magic)
Two-ways: Lorenzo Brown, Malcolm Miller (905), Jamel Artis (Magic)
The first 905 game in the post-Bruno Caboclo era was… just fine. The 905-Magic contest represented a matchup between two of the better defences in the G-League, but the 905 offence proved to have more endurance. Malcolm Miller got the start for the departed Caboclo, and Miller opened the scoring for the 905 with an impressive tip-in on a Kennedy Meek’s post-up fadeaway. Though the Lakeland scored on their first shot – an open 3 – the 905 defence clamped down admirably following the bucket.
The Magic missed their next 9 shots as the 905 whipped around on their rotations, challenging every shot, and disallowing most penetration towards the paint. This would be a theme all game. It was encouraging to see the defence perform well with Miller (and occasionally Kuran Iverson) defending in the place of Caboclo. The team missed Caboclo’s rangy, off-ball patrols in passing lanes, but the man-to-man defence from the 905 was incredible. No Magic player could win the individual matchup all night long.
Offensively, the 905 weren’t much better than their opponents in the early going, as Kennedy Meeks and then Alfonzo McKinnie were blocked at the rim, but even their meagre scoring saw them take a lead 10-2 midway through the quarter. Lorenzo Brown playing means a team’s offence can never fully be extinguished.
Though the Lakeland Magic tried to stop the 905 momentum with a timeout, the visitors continued their onslaught in the late part of the quarter. Lorenzo Brown scored on a few midrange floaters, while Malcolm Miller and McKinnie hit a pair of 3s (they would miss the next several they attempted). The 905 pushed their lead to 15 before the Magic could blink. In a quirky moment, Aaron Best – recently announced participant of the G-League dunk contest – decided to lay in a fastbreak alley-oop instead of throwing it down:
— Raptors 905 (@Raptors905) February 11, 2018
Alan Anderson and Rodney Purvis 3s cut the lead to 9, but McKinnie threw down a massive spike on the next possession to keep the Magic at a distance. McKinnie waltzed down the lane in the halfcourt, finding no defenders were willing to stop him, en route to his dunk. Anderson was a recent pick-up for the Magic, and he hit his first four shots of the game; his only miss in the first quarter came on a buzzer-beating heave. He only landed in Florida earlier in the day!
As usual, when Lorenzo Brown hit the bench to start the 2nd quarter, the 905 struggled. The Magic scored 5 quick, unanswered points, as Kaza Keane continued his struggles running the bench offence. He turned over the first 905 offensive possession, and only a few minutes later missed another 3 – he’s shot 1/18 from distance since the start of 2018. The bench would improve dramatically as the game went on.
The 905 defence held firm after its early-2nd missteps, denying any easy Magic points, while manufacturing some of their own in transition; a Davion Berry layup on the fastbreak pushed the lead back up to 11. Kennedy Meeks had a particularly impressive defensive moment against opposing center Reggis Onwukamuche. Directly under the rim, Meeks held his ground, denying any advantage on a series of moves meant to open up some space for a shot, before eventually forcing a turnover.
Some impressive scoring from Fuquan Edwin and Kuran Iverson allowed the 905 to keep Brown resting on the bench until 5:30 left the 2nd. The lead was still in double digits. Brown resumed his scoring ways, hitting a 3 with just a few minutes left in the quarter to give himself 10 points at that point. While the 905 took half by 10, Malcolm Miller’s and McKinnie’s combined 2/9 from 3 compared to Rodney Purvis’ 3/5 were the difference between a 10-point lead and a blowout.
The 3-point shot continued to be the difference in the 2nd half, as Jamel Artis hit the first shot coming out of the break. The 905 were sloppy on the other end, with their only baskets of the first 3 minutes coming via Best and McKinnie dunks in transition. And that was enough! Their defence was so impressive that the lead stayed around 10 points.
Rodney Purvis, who scored 35 against Greensboro in his last outing, hit a pair of 3s to keep the Magic afloat. Regardless, every Magic run had a 905 answer, as Malcolm Miller nailed a corner 3 to push the lead back to that magic number, 10. Practically every 905 look in the halfcourt was created by Lorenzo Brown – either from his hands, as an assist, or after a series of passes resulting from his penetration. Brown’s speedy, hesitating, change-of-pace enabled him to roast every potential Magic defender.
Fear of the Magic jumpshot got the 905 into brief trouble. Rodney Purvis earned himself 3 free throws with a side-stepping triple that drew a foul, and the 905 fouled their way into the penalty with 4:30 still remaining in the third quarter. The lead was struck to 3. The issue was scoring for the 905, whose halfcourt sets frequently ground down to post-ups. The 905 even managed multiple turnovers in simple fastbreak situations, one on a failed euro step from backup center, Shevon Thompson, and anther resulting from a misplaced Lorenzo Brown outlet pass.
Even handicapped with fouls, the 905 defence tightened its grip on the Magic via a lineup of Brown-Berry-Edwin-Iverson-Shevon Thompson. This Brown + bench lineup was dominant. The Magic would only manage a handful of points in the next four minutes, ending the quarter with only 61 points total.
The all-bench lineup started the final quarter for the 905, with Kaza Keane in the place of Brown for the above-mentioned defensive-minded rotation. A Shevon Thompson layup, followed up an Edwin jumper, forced a timeout from the Magic, whose closest attempt at a basket in the first few minutes came on a ball ricocheting off the bottom of the rim. Kuran Iverson even volley-ball spiked a shot attempt out of bounds.
— Raptors 905 (@Raptors905) February 11, 2018
Iverson followed that up with an aggressive put-back slam on a Keane missed floater.
Stackhouse brought the starters into the game with 7:09 remaining, and the bench had successfully played a perfect shift. They held the Magic to 0 points in almost 5 minutes of game time. It was magic. The starters, however, allowed the Magic to score 4 straight points to cut the lead to 74-65! Stackhouse called an angry timeout to stop the bleeding, and the 905 never looked back.
The story tonight was defence. Lacking an all-G-League defender in Caboclo, would the stingy, turnover-forcing machine that is Stackhouse’s program continue their dominant ways? The 905 came out and answered defiantly in the positive. The Magic finished with 77 points on 33% shooting from the field. They went long stretches at a time without creating a single productive look. The 905 offence was middling, but it didn’t need to be great to get the easy win.
- Assignment notes
- Alfonzo McKinnie played well, despite not shooting well. He only shot 1/5 from 3, but otherwise was dominant. His defence on the wing was – along with every other 905er’s defence – fantastic. He still scored 13 points and created a few highlights in just 29 minutes.
- Other 905 player notes:
- With Caboclo in Sacramento, Malcolm Miller is starting in his place, and will most likely take a number of what used to be Caboclo’s looks. Miller only shot 2/7 from 3, but his stroke is beautiful, and I’m not worried. Caboclo was never more than a streaky shooter for the 905, with explosive hot streaks, but league-average percentages. Miller has the potential to be a more consistent shooter, particularly from the corners. Miller also finished with 13 points.
- Lorenzo Brown was exactly as good as the 905 needed. His shot wasn’t perfect (5/13 from the field), but his jitterbug dribbling moves created practically anything he wanted. He created countless open looks for his teammates, and you couldn’t ask for a better floor general at the G-League level. I remain astonished at the progress he’s made in that area. On defence, he consistently jumped passing lanes, created steals, and got into transition. He led the team with 14 points, as well as 10 rebounds and 7 assists.
- Kuran Iverson and Fuquan Edwin will pick up many of Caboclo’s minutes. They played incredible defence, and they shot well enough (5/10 combined). They won’t be looked upon to score like Caboclo could, but they held their own on defence. Their first test is very much passed.
- Injury notes:
- None, and that’s great to write, as usual.
- Magic notes:
- Rodney Purvis was the only Magic player offering anything on the offensive end. He scored a game-high 20 points with 4 made 3s. He’s now 9/20 on 3s against the 905 all season, and I can’t remember having seen a single one of those misses. His stroke looks good and pure, but he always seems to explode against the Sauga boys. The Gerald Henderson of the G-League, now that Luke Kornet is playing in the NBA and dominating the Raptors instead of the 905?
- The 905 return home on Monday the 12th against the Maine Red Claws. A friendly reminder that promo code “REPUBLIC905” will get you a discount at this link all season long.