Final Score | Raptors 905 112, Long Island Nets 111 | Box Score
Two Ways: Shamorie Ponds (905),
Out: Dewan Hernandez (905), Oshae Brissett (905), Sagaba Konate (905), Devin Robinson (905), Paul Watson Jr. (905), Henry Ellenson (Nets), Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (Nets), Jonathan Kasibabu (Nets)
Another day, another overtime win with a thin bench for the Raptors 905. The single point victory was not an easy one, with Tyler Ennis getting ejected halfway through the fourth quarter after receiving two technical fouls. The Raptors entered the fourth quarter with a confident twelve point lead, before a lead change with four minutes remaining in favour of the Nets, the first since the beginning of the second. The final of Shamorie Ponds 29 points, a reverse layup, would be what put Toronto one point ahead of Long Island for the remaining ten seconds of overtime, ultimately squeaking them to victory.
Defence: After a 10-0 run for Long Island, the 905 realized that all of their opponent’s points were coming from in the paint. Toronto changed their defensive schemes to keep the Nets on the perimeter, and began the second quarter down only two points. Matt Morgan in particular was able to force his fellow Ivy-Leaguer to turn the ball over after pressuring him out of bounds. Tyler Ennis approached defending Deng Adel the same way, and despite the size mismatch, was able to cause Adel to airball a three after a hot streak.
Veteran Leadership: Justin Reyes had not played with the 905 yet this season due to an ankle injury. No matter how many practices he participated in or how much film he watched, to be thrown into the mix as one of the only players of size in an 8-man rotation is no easy task. Tyler Ennis and Duane Notice, the two veterans on the team, made sure to calmly and inclusively explain the ins and outs of the 905’s system to Reyes. Rather than expressing frustration with a “new” teammate, Notice and Ennis instead took on a leadership role, guiding Reyes through situations that could only be learned in game. The efforts, coach Jama Mahlalela stated, were on both Ennis and Notice’s own accords. Leadership, more often than not, isn’t the player who scores the most points, but the players who make a conscious effort to make their teammates better.
Justin Reyes: Recovering from a lengthy injury often sees players moving more timidly in their first games back. This was not the case for Justin Reyes. His 16 minutes of action concluded with 8 rebounds and 6 points. Reyes showed no fear of physicality when guarding players like CJ Williams and Deng Adel, or when contesting shots and grabbing rebounds on both ends of the floor.
Foul Trouble: While Tuesday’s game allowed a bit of wiggle-room in terms of fouling, Friday’s game did not have the same luxury. Tyler Ennis was ejected from the game in the fourth quarter with two consecutive technical fouls, leaving a team of only 8 players down to 7. Justin Anderson, one of the only sizable players on the floor, was forced to sit for portions of the second half after receiving 5 personal fouls.
Ball Sharing: I don’t know who needs to hear this, but Mamba mentality is not always a good thing. Yes, Shamorie Ponds finished with 29 points, but he also finished with a single assist. 29 points is great, when they aren’t coming at the expense of your teammates. At one point, rather than attempting to pass, Ponds drove directly into CJ Williams, who was able to steal the ball and make an open three-point shot, giving Long Island the lead when it appeared that the Raptors had the game in the bag.
Superstition: The Raptors 905 are currently 3-0 when I bring cookies after the game. While this is great for their win-streak, it probably isn’t ideal for their bodies.
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