Photo credit: Trung Ho/trungho.ca
Raptors 905 106 Iowa Wolves 88 | Box Score
Assignees: None (905); Keita Bates-Diop (Wolves)
Two-ways: Chris Boucher, Jordan Loyd (905); Jared Terrell, CJ Williams (Wolves)
With almost 19000 children packing the Scotiabank Arena and watching in varied states of frantic exuberance, the Raptors 905 continued their recent trend of turning every game into the Chris Boucher Show. His monstrous first quarter, scoring 17 points in only 9 minutes, put the Iowa Wolves to bed early. The 905 led by double digits for practically the remainder of the game, stretching their winning streak to five and their record to 10-3.
The Big Dunkamental (I’m workshopping, ok?) hit everything from layups to triples in the first. His ability to handle the ball after a defensive rebound create a number of easier looks than he would otherwise find in the half-court. He even canned a stepback midrange jumper on an isolation against Hakim Warrick (yes, that Hakim Warrick).
The Wolves made life easy for the 905 in the first quarter. Like most G-League teams who look to prey on Boucher’s thin frame, they were happy to turn the game into a contest between their bigs and Boucher. While Boucher scored easily on offence, Diamond Stone and company struggled to convert on the post-ups that Iowa insisted on running on nearly every possession. Stone shot 4-for-10 in just the first quarter, as Boucher collected 3 blocks. (Boucher ended the man; Stone didn’t attempt another shot for the rest of the game). The 905 led 36-22 after the first.
The 905 used Jordan Loyd to bolster the bench lineup at the start of the second quarter. The game devolved into a slower-paced, more foul-heavy affair, which suited the 905 just fine. Jordan Loyd created a few points, but the bench generally maintained the lead with solid defence. Boucher returned to the game early in the quarter and resumed his winning ways, tossing in a light two-handed alley-oop dunk in transition after Iowa’s Stone turned it over on a post-up.
It was Kyle Collinsworth’s time to shine in the waning minutes of the first half. With Kay Felder gone from the roster, the 905 are much lighter on playmakers and shot creators. Collinsworth spent time as the de facto point guard, and he did a great job eurostepping his way into little floaters and layups from the left wing. He’s a nifty post-up player, and he even scored on a few tip-in rebounds when the Wolves failed to block him out. Collinsworth is truly the G-League’s Ben Simmons.
“Kyle is a really smart basketball player,” said Mahlalela after the game. “His ability to initiate offence and have a bigger player guarding him allows us some things where he can get a head of team and get to his left-right game, and get to the rim.”
The Wolves briefly made a game of it in the third quarter. Early on, the 905 settled for tough jumpers without much action to create space, as Iowa began to eschew post-ups from their offence. A 12-3 run was sparked by Darius Johnson-Odom drives. Rodney Pryor countered for the 905 off the bench, creating with his dribble and either scoring or kicking out into space. He even stuck a few jumpers. On the other end, he erased a Wolves shot from behind. If you squint, Pryor may already be filling Fuquan Edwin’s spot of ‘midseason wing addition who ends up being one of the 905’s most productive players’. He finished with a game-high +24 and 19 points off the bench. Behind Pryor’s burst, the 905 again led by double digits, 83-68, heading into the final frame.
The Loyd+bench lineup stretched the lead in the fourth. Khadeem Lattin scored well around the rim, both off the pass and the offensive rebound. He’s no Shevon Thompson (offensively), but he’s a terrific backup center at the G-League level. Though the starters returned to the game to close things out, the last several minutes were simply ornamental.
At 10-3, the 905 are 0.5 games behind the Westchester Knicks for first place in the Eastern Conference. Though their 3s didn’t drop, finishing 7-for-37 from behind the arc, their defence was stifling. Boucher and Adel together were downright mean, and Boucher finished with 7 blocks. They are now 10-1 with Boucher and Loyd playing, and led wire-to-wire against a Wolves team with its fair share of standout talent. They did it all on a bigger stage than usual.
“This is a special game, and there’s no way around it,” said Mahlalela before the game. “One, we’re playing at this arena. It’s pretty special to be here where an NBA team plays. Secondly, we’re going to have 19000 screaming kids, and that is unique in its own right. Third, and most importantly, we’re playing to honour Nelson Mandela today, and his legacy is a tremendous one.”
“The guys realized that this was not just about a basketball game…” he continued after the win. “Mandela really spoke about the ability that sport has to change people’s lives, and to change the world. For our players, they got a little sense of that, even after 48 minutes of basketball, it doesn’t really matter the score on the scoreboard. It’s about how do you carry yourself, how do you relate to the people around you, and we have a really good group of quality players. For me, that’s a great representation of who Mandela is and what he’s about.”
It may have been a special game, but it ended with a common result in the win column for the high-flying 905.
- Chris Boucher has been covered at length – and surely will be in the future – so suffice it to say that he just did exactly what has been expected of him. More than varied offensive skills like shooting, handling, finishing, and screening, his best skill at this point may be consistency. Coach Jama Mahlalela recognized that before the game: “We were excited for what he could potentially bring to our team. But he’s doing it consistently, and that is a real skill. That’s a professional skill, to come in every night and produce.” Though he did struggle to score after an explosive first quarter, especially over vertical contests, Boucher finished with 25 points, 14 rebounds, and 7 blocks – just another ho-hum night for the budding G-League MVP.
- Jordan Loyd has developed tremendously in a short season. His role has changed in recent games with the departure of his backcourt mate, but he was mostly able to remain a consistent plus whenever he was on the court. His jumper was astray in this one, but he attacked the rim and created space for others with his dribble. He had a fair number of Kobe assists on missed layups that gave easy offensive rebounds to teammates.
- Other player notes:
- Kyle Collinsworth looked great. Putting him on-ball will always help the BYU alum, who is used to playing as a supersized point guard. He lacks any semblance of a jumper – and finished 0-for-2 from deep – but he has most other offensive skills ready to go. He’s a great and willing passer, and his handles and size allow him to get anywhere he wants at this level. He needs to improve his vertical burst, as he frequently turned great moves into awkward layups and floaters. Whatever, he made them. He finished with 14 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, a block, and a steal.
- Deng Adel is so much better when he’s the fourth or fifth option on a lineup. That speaks well to his fit in the NBA. His shooting and defence are probably already better than advertised, but he also showed a great knack at attacking closeouts and finishing against the Wolves. In particular, he drove well right to left and finished with his strong hand while shielding the ball with his body. He’ll need to get his weak hand up to snuff, but for one game at least, it worked great.
- Once again this year, Raptors Republic readers will be able to buy discounted tickets to 905 games. The code REPUBLIC905 will get you a discount on Raptors 905 tickets using this link: https://oss.ticketmaster.com/aps/acc/EN/promotion/home