Fort Wayne Mad Ants 82, Raptors 905 112 | Box Score
Assignees: Edmond Sumner, Alize Johnson (Mad Ants)
Two-ways: Jordan Loyd (905)
The 905 clinched their third straight playoff berth with a 30-point win over the Fort Wayne Mad Ants on Monday. The 905 only led by nine after three quarters, but they held Fort Wayne to 15% from the field in the fourth, which included a shutout streak that lasted over six minutes, to clinch the game.
Jordan Loyd recorded a triple double, including a game-high 24 points. Wade Baldwin IV continued to excel in just his sixth game with the team, scoring 23, and Derek Cooke Jr. recorded his 10th double-double in 11 games, with 16 points and 15 rebounds.
With the playoff spot locked up the 905 set their sites on a first round bye. They trail the second place Lakeland Magic by a half-game, with Lakeland holding a game in hand. The 905 play the Magic in Florida in the final two games of the season, which will likely decide who gets that coveted pass into the second round.
- 905 Two-way notes
- Jordan Loyd – after two big road wins where he combined to score 61 points, Loyd looked extra-confident on Monday. In the first quarter Loyd assisted on a pair of pretty pick and rolls with Cooke and Duane Notice, leading to a monster dunk and layup respectively. He also assisted on a number of three pointers, including a big corner three by Josh Adams during the third quarter, when the Mad Ants nearly tied the game. “The extra pass, and the vision – you saw it all game long,” Head Coach Jama Mahlalela said post-game. “His ability to find people in the lane (and) his ability to find corner three point shooters is really becoming elite.”
- From the second quarter on Loyd‘s his offence exploded. His finishing around the rim and mid-range game was stellar as usual, and he’ll be encouraged by hitting on four of his six three point attempts, increasing his overall three point accuracy to 36.1%. Equally impressive was his fourth quarter scoring, which was instrumental in blowing the game open. In a span of 2:14, Loyd scored or assisted on 10 points, helping the lead swell from 12 to 23.
- Loyd‘s best highlights – a George Gervin-style finger roll in transition, a ridiculous angled entry pass from the left elbow extended past the rim to Cooke for a huge dunk, and a nasty crossover / step-back jumper combination on Mad Ants guard Rob Gray that was capped by a rude stare towards Fort Wayne’s bench.
- Other 905 player notes
- Derek Cooke Jr – a double double machine (as referenced above). Cooke also battled Mad Ants assignee Alize Johnson admirably, who after scoring 12 points in the first half, was limited to just four in the second. When Cooke was acquired via trade from the Northern Arizona Suns in mid-January, he had trouble finishing around the rim, often looking merely like a raw athlete. But his improvement in field goal percentage (now at 50%) and rebounding (averaging over 12 per game) over the last several weeks has been staggering. “I have to thank the coaching staff (for that),” Cooke said. “(Assistant coach) Ryan Schmidt has worked with me relentlessly. (Assistant coach) AJ Diggs does a good job giving me positive reinforcement and criticism, and then Jama just having faith in me. When you have a coaching staff like that, that on a constant basis, push you to be better at little things, the game is going change for you, inevitably.”
- “We didn’t quite have a sense he was gonna be quite as good as he has been,” Mahlalela said pre-game. “He’s a worker. He listens tremendously, and he’s professional to no end. I joke with him all the time – I tried to teach JV (Jonas Valanciunas) something for four years, and he got it in four minutes.”
- Cooke’s game is starting to resemble that of Houston Rockets centre Clint Capela – a freak athlete, a great finisher, and an elite rebounder (among other traits). “Capela’s one of my favourite guys to watch,” Cooke said. “When you’re (playing alongside) a guy like James Harden, who’s one of the best players we’ve ever seen… Capela just finds his niche every night. I think he learned a lot from his veterans coming up, that if you just play hard and you work hard you’ll get the easy baskets and the rebounds come. The stats that you’re looking for are going to come easy.”
- “The way he’s been playing the last 10 games is really elite. He’s doing some really special things and he’s taking this league by storm,” Mahlalela added. “The whole goal of playing in this league is to get noticed and recognized, and play at a high level, and Derek’s done that. So we’ll all be advocating for him and pushing him as far as he can go, and hopefully he latches on with someone this summer.”
- Wade Baldwin IV – since joining the team less than two weeks ago, Baldwin has integrated himself seamlessly. After Monday’s 23 point performance he’s averaging almost 26 points over 50% shooting with the team. The chemistry with fellow-NBA prospect Loyd is growing, as they assisted on a number of each other’s baskets in the first half. Baldwin was exceptional in the second quarter, where he scored 11 points, all on high quality looks.
- The non-paint two is dead, but Baldwin has a nice fallaway jumper from the left nail, which keeps defences off balance.
- Mad Ants Assignment notes
- Alize Johnson – Johnson had scored 51 points in two games vs the 905 coming in, leading Mahlalela to call him a “problem” before the game. Johnson’s started “problematically” for the 905 on Monday, scoring 12 first half points, mostly on an old-school array of Kevin McHale-caliber post moves. But Cooke made Johnson work for every shot, blocking him on one occasion, while often Johnson to catch the ball further from the basket that he’d like. By the fourth quarter Johnson might have ran out of gas, as he only scored four points in the second half, none in the final frame.
- Admin note
- The 905 return home on Monday night as they host the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. Raptors Republic readers can get a discount on tickets using the code REPUBLIC905.