Raptors905 Post-Game

905 lose 2nd straight, will begin playoffs with elimination game

Photo credit: Trung Ho / TrungHo.ca

Agua Caliente Clippers def. Raptors 905 95-92 | Box Score
Assignees: Alfonzo McKinnie, Nigel Hayes (905), None (Clippers)
Two-ways: None (905), C.J. Williams (Clippers)

A four-game West coast trip including a back-to-back was always going to present a serious obstacle to the Raptors 905’s pursuit of the Westchester Knicks for the top spot in the Atlantic division and a first-round bye.

This was a slow kill after the 905 took a double-digit lead midway through the first quarter, as the 905 struggled to execute in the half court and could never muster up enough energy in the second half to mount a serious comeback.

Until the very end.

With the Clippers seemingly in control after LaDontae Henton hit what appeared to be the dagger for a 10-point lead with 1:42 remaining, Davion Berry tried to pull off his best Tracy McGrady impression with 10 points in the next 90 seconds, pulling his team within three with possession of the ball after Tim Quarterman shoved Berry in the face for an offensive foul on their inbounds. How it was called a common foul after review and not a flagrant is beyond me.

Anyway, the 905 came up empty on the final possession, taking far too long to get into action before Berry forced up a bad looking three that never stood a chance to finish 2-2 on the road trip and one final home game to build momentum back up again before a first-round elimination game in the playoffs.

A win for Agua Caliente looked highly unlikely early on.

The Clippers didn’t make it easy on themselves, the ones not named C.J. Williams anyway. Agua Caliente have made just over 31 percent of their three-point attempts on the season and it reflected in their game plan to start. There was clear intent to get to the basket early and often, and after giving up some easy baskets at the rim, the 905 put the clamps on by packing the paint and intercepting the Clippers’ kick-out passes with ease. The good guys forced eight first quarter turnovers to create some much needed easy baskets for themselves.

Random stat: Despite the eight first quarter turnovers, not one Clipper had more than one.

With the exception of Alfonzo McKinnie, Kennedy Meeks and Aaron Best, the 905 were ice cold and struggled to create in the half court. The trio combined to shoot 8-of-17 in the first quarter, while the rest of the team went 3-for-12. There were several possessions which ran close to the shot clock expiring and the absence of Lorenzo Brown and Malcolm Miller was easily noticeable.

Malachi Richardson, too, missed this game with a wrist injury, which resulted in starts for Negus Webster-Chan as well as Davion Berry who stepped in for Kethan Savage. Webster-Chan knocked down 2-of-7 from downtown, but will be kicking himself over not making more of the open opportunities the Clippers gave him. Berry brought good energy to this starting unit, driving when he had the chance, making some nifty passes, and applying good ball pressure to force a few turnovers. If not for going 1-for-8 from three, his 18-point, seven assist night would have looked even better and probably would have been good enough for the W.

The Clippers came out with more sloppy handling to open the second quarter, and the 905 were more than happy to oblige of the easy leak-out opportunities. First, Kaza Keane picked off 2014 Toronto Raptors second-round pick DeAndre Daniels and went coast-to-coast for a layup, then the 905 simply won the hustle battle on the boards courtesy of Shevon Thompson to create a third opportunity after two misses which led to two free-throws for the Jamaican. Tyler Roberson then committed an offensive foul which led to a Nigel Hayes three.

All told, it was a 31-18 lead for the 905 with over nine minutes to play in the quarter, and it appeared as though they were starting to run away with it.

Credit Agua Caliente, though, as they stormed back with a 14-4 run of their own over the next six minutes and, you guessed it, Williams was just beginning to heat up. He had 13 to end the half including 3-of-4 shooting from beyond the arc to cut the 905 lead to just 44-42 at the break.

Sensing the struggles of the 905 bench to generate offense, 905 head coach Jerry Stackhouse made an interesting call early in the second half. After four quick points that forced Clippers head coach Casey Hill to call timeout, Stackhouse flipped Berry for Keane. Berry had already racked up five assists at the time, and so this was a good ploy, in theory at least, to see if he could translate some of that playmaking over to the second unit. This is the type of stuff you have to love from Stackhouse, seemingly already in playoff mode.

Unfortunately, after an Aaron Best three-pointer pushed the lead back up to 10, the 905 were outscored 26-10 the rest of the quarter with Ike Oroegbu leading the way for the Clippers with nine of those points. Keith Steffeck and Henton also joined Williams with the outside success, knocking down six threes combined as their bench outdid the 905’s by 18 points.

Offensive lulls are no stranger to the 905 this season, especially when they’re missing the key cog to their engine in Brown. It sure will be fascinating to see how the 905 postseason plays out this time around, after the Raptors allowed Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam to put in time with the G League squad to bring home the championship.

Can Brown and Miller be this year’s VanVleet and Siakam? Time will tell. But I digress.

It’s hard not to think fatigue played some sort of factor here as, in addition to the missing bodies, the 905 were playing the final game of their four-game West coast trip having arrived in Northern Arizona a week ago.

After forcing all those turnovers early and getting easy fastbreak points, the 905 were actually losing the transition battle 19-13 at one point in the fourth quarter. After the Clippers lost the first half turnover battle 14-4, they were much sharper on their offensive possessions in the second half, coughing the ball up just three more times till midway through the fourth quarter, before panic set in with the 905’s late run.

Notes

  • Assignment notes
    • Nigel Hayes knocked down a couple of three-pointers and had four steals, but was largely anonymous. He’s looked dependent on playmakers to find him in that shooting pocket, and whether that’s the role he’s been assigned or hasn’t looked to show much else remains to be seen.
    • The Clippers had no answer for Alfonzo McKinnie off the bounce. He was a monster on the offensive glass as well, grabbing nine on that end to finish 12 rebounds for the game to go along with his game-high 23 points. He had some really tough finishes inside, and frankly, if he could move that three-point percentage up a couple of points, he’d be right in the thick of things for playing time with the parent club.
    • Malachi Richardson did not play due to a wrist injury.
  • Other 905 player notes
    • Kennedy Meeks confidence looks to be sky high right now. His comfort level passing out of the post is evident, and the 905 would do well to play through him more especially when they go through their offensive funks with the guards struggling to break defenses down. He had a great pass for the opening bucket of the game, slinging a pass from the low post cross-court to Aaron Best, who knocked down the weakside corner three. He also had this sick block:

  • Clippers notes:
    • The Clippers announcers shout out downtown Ontario with all their three-point hits. Ontario, California that is.
    • Former Raptor DeAndre Daniels a.k.a. the actual bust of 2014 was in action for the Clippers and finished with five points and nine rebounds. He doesn’t have much of an outside jumper, shooting 25.5 percent from three on the year but gave them some good contributions around the basket. He did have one mean swat on Fuquan Edwin as well with about six minutes remaining in the third quarter.
  • The 905 now close out their regular season on Saturday at Hershey Centre. A friendly reminder that promo code “REPUBLIC905” will get you a discount at this link all season long.

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