Photo Credit: Christian Bonin / TSGphoto.com
Raptors 905 126 Delaware Blue Coats 125 | Box Score
Assignees: Jonah Bolden (Blue Coats)
Two-ways: Chris Boucher, Jordan Loyd (905), Demetrius Jackson, Shake Milton (Blue Coats)
Though a win seemed unlikely at times, the Raptors 905 gutted out an offensive freak-fest, toppling the Delaware Blue Coats 126-125. After the game, players and coaches were mostly discussing the need for increased defensive communication, better transition defence, and better work on the defensive glass: grunt work. They still couldn’t keep the smiles off of their faces.
The 905 season began, in predictable fashion, to the tune of frequent and ferocious dunking. On the first regular season 905 possession, Deng Adel rounded a screen from Chris Boucher and lobbed up a pass. Boucher soared head and shoulders above the competition to throw it down, sending an obvious message: this team is going to dunk everything. Adel got the message and responded only a moment later, throwing down a two-hander on a speedy drive along the baseline. With the defence clicking, Boucher pump-faked from the top of the key and tossed in a gentler two-handler to force a timeout from Delaware. The team was up 6-2, with all of their baskets coming from dunks.
“We try to finish everything,” said Boucher. “Everybody on this team tries to finish over other people, it doesn’t matter who it is.”
The 905 defence was perhaps more impressive to start the game, forcing a turnover on Delaware’s first offensive possession and a tough, air-balled layup to follow. Even though the defence would dissipate as the game went on, the 905 were looking to run at every opportunity, even after made baskets. A frantic pace marked the game early, as Toronto used athleticism and early offence to off-set a lack of distance shooting across the roster. Though Boucher missed the first two 3s he attempted, he had success driving and finishing contested shots. The man could lead the G-League in scoring, and he finished with 33 points. Not to be outdone, Adel used a screen from Boucher a moment later to step back and hit the team’s first triple midway through the first.
“You know, I think we’re a team that’s really trying to emulate the style of Nick Nurse and the Toronto Raptors,” said new head coach Jama Mahlalela. “We’re a team that’s looking for 3s, and looking for plays at the rim. If we can get that, we can put whatever points on the board.”
Delaware kept it close early by killing the 905 on the glass. With Boucher and Adel manning the twin forward spots for the starters – and both barely weighing 200 pounds – the Blue Coats attacked the offensive glass. In the first quarter, Delaware commanded almost half as many offensive rebounds, 4, as the 905 did defensively, 9. Not able to clean their own glass, the 905 created live-ball turnovers to extend their lead. A Collinsworth steal and eurostep in transition put the home team ahead 24-18 midway through the first.
The 905’s defence didn’t offer much resistance after Adel and Boucher hit the bench to rest. NBA assignee Jonah Bolden in particular thrived, using his size to dominate the Raptors inside. He even hit a pair of triples in the first quarter, leading both teams with 14 early. The Blue Coats led 36-32 to end the first quarter.
To break the team out of its funk, Loyd wound up in transition to absolutely punch a one-hander through the rim, driving the crowd into a frenzy. His hand was still hurting several possessions later as the first quarter ended, as he shook it ruefully, smiling towards the bench.
“I don’t have a past of big-time athleticism,” said Loyd, admitting he’s never dunked like that before. “I’m working to get my body right, working on being a little more athletic, so I was glad to have it pay off a little bit.”
The 905 opened the second quarter with an all-bench lineup, and it quickly ran into trouble. Duane Notice and Watford missed some triples badly on offence, while the defence couldn’t contain simple cuts. A few Notice layups kept the 905 afloat, but Delaware led 42-39 by the time Toronto put Adel back into the game.
Boucher joined him in the game a moment later, and the two quickly went back to work. Boucher forced a miss on defence and cleaned the glass. Receiving the outlet pass, Adel went the length of the court and tossed in a full-sprint lefty layup to take the lead 43-42. Boucher hit his first triple of the season on the next possession; the two worked great as a tag-team.
With the game being pushed at such high speeds, it was bound to eventually be stops that boosted the 905 lead. A Kay Felder steal led to free throws for Boucher, while a stifling possession resulted in a spinning Collinsworth layup on the other end. Boucher poured in free throws to end the half, including one made freebie after a twisting layup in transition that he finished while looking over at the other rim. Another steal and assist from Boucher put the 905 ahead 72-65 to end the half. The Canadian unicorn finished the half with 22 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals, proving early and often that he cannot be contained in the G-League.
Noelle Pelle opened the second half on a tear for Delaware, dunking five (!) times and blocking a Loyd layup deep into the stands. A bizarre technical foul called on Felder let Delaware continue its creep back into the game, and they led 82-75 only minutes into into the third quarter. Toronto couldn’t get shots to drop on offence, and Poelle used his strength to bully the skinny Boucher on both ends. Demetrius Jackson scored six quick points of his own for Delaware to force a timeout from Toronto.
A Felder above-the-break triple finally broke the ice for Toronto, who needed any spark of life. He earned another inexplicable technical moments later to earn the lightest ejection in the history of basketball. It seemed to spark some life for Toronto. Boucher tried to Statue of Liberty cram the ball from the free-throw line, despite a Delaware defender in his path. It rimmed out, but he earned free throws in the process. The continued parade of free throws for Adel and then Collinsworth pulled Toronto within two, down 87-85.
Boucher continued his dunking ways, tossing a two-hander on a defender’s head in transition to take the lead 92-91. With Boucher propping up the bench lineup towards the end of the quarter, the 905 bench kept their heads above water. Watford nailed a triple before Uche Ofoegbu scored a bunny out of an inbounds to lead 99-95. Delaware closed strong however – including a Jackson banked tripled to beat the shot-clock – to lead 104-100 heading into the final frame.
Though Watford hit another triple to start the quarter, Toronto’s defence continued bleeding easy dunks and open triples. Within a few minutes, Delaware again extended their lead, 111-103. Mahlalela threw Loyd, Adel, and Boucher back into the game early in the fourth to stabilize the game, and they responded with a pair of offensive rebounds before Adel cashed in a layup. Loyd hit a fading corner triple to keep the 905 within striking distance.
The 905 still couldn’t stop the Blue Coats on defence. Jackson hit another triple, and simple back-cuts bled Toronto to death by a thousand paper cuts. Just when it seemed like Delaware might run away with it, Notice hit a monster triple, which Boucher mirrored on the next possession. Loyd scored on a put-back layup in transition after a steal, and the 905 were suddenly back in the game, down only 118-117.
A pair of Shake Milton midrange step-backs kept the Blue Coats in the driver’s seat, as the 905 either turned the ball over or missed triples on their next several offensive possessions. Boucher did his best to make up the distance, getting a steal and making free-throws, and then nearly tipping the ball away again. Adel tied the game 122-122 with a tough, contested triple, but Jackson re-took the lead for Delaware with an athletic reverse layup in a crowd. Both teams traded free-throws before a Loyd steal and drive in transition resulted in yet more free throws. Given a one-point lead, one of the only defensive stops of the game gave Toronto its first win, though the game seemed all but lost a variety of times throughout the night.
Chris Boucher looked fantastic, and the rest of the game beyond his stellar performance was just gravy. Afterwards, Mahlalela scoffed at the idea that his team didn’t deserve the win.
“Listen a W is a W,” he said. “You take every W, no matter how you can get it. Ugly, pretty, it doesn’t matter, you take the win. It does give us a lot of learning [to do].”
Three-point shooting was a difficult deficit for the 905 to make up. Delaware finished the game shooting 11-for-28 from deep (39.3 percent), while Toronto only managed 12-for-39 (30.8 percent). Boucher shot 2-for-9, but he wasn’t the only Toronto player jacking it up. All in all, nine players launched at least one shot from deep; only two 905ers who dressed did not attempt a triple. They may not be a league-average shooting team, at least until Malcolm Miller returns healthy, but they need to find better looks from deep.
- Jonah Bolden is a handful in the G-Leauge. The guy seemed like he had 20-30 pounds on Boucher, and he used it willingly. Bolden finished with 28 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 blocks. He can stroke it from the outside, and he can dominate in the paint. Toronto will need at least one player to handle monsters in the G-League. True 7-footers are rare, but Boucher is still too slim to tussle with players like Bolden.
- Boucher is already a superstar in the G-League. He finished with 33 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 3 blocks. He is quick, bouncy, long, and athletic. He has a solid handle, which he used frequently to get into transition and force rebounds. Though his 3s weren’t falling, he finished 13-for-15 from the line. His second and third jumps are almost immediate after hitting the ground, which led to his corralling six offensive rebounds. Boucher is still light and relatively weak, and he can be bumped off of his spot pretty easily. There’s work to do, but his potential to develop into a star is virtually limitless.
- Jordan Loyd caught a body in his first game. Oh yeah, and he finished with 24 points on 15 shot attempts, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, and 3 steals. The dude is smooth and comfortable out there. When he begins to master his in-between game, dribbling with opponents on his back, and probing deeper into defences, he will be unstoppable in the G-League.
- Once again this year, the code REPUBLIC905 will get you a discount on Raptors 905 tickets using this link: https://oss.ticketmaster.com/aps/acc/EN/promotion/home