Final Score | Raptors 905 129, Memphis Hustle 118 | Box Score
Two Ways: Paul Watson Jr. (905), John Konchar (Hustle), Yuta Watanabe (Hustle)
Inactive: Oshae Brissett (905), Sagaba Konate (905), Nino Johnson (Hustle), Raynere Thornton (Hustle), Bennie Boatwright (Hustle)
Coming off of a 3-game losing streak, all the result of poor late-game decision making, the Raptors 905 knew something had to change. With just a day between their home loss against the Greensboro Swarm and match down south with the 2nd place team in the G League, the Raptors 905 embraced the “Grit and Grind” motto of the Memphis Hustle’s parent team, the Memphis Grizzlies, ultimately carving out a slow win over the Hustle, 129-118.
I Got Red Shooters, I Got Blue: This was the best shooting game the 905 have had this season. As a team, Toronto shot 50% from beyond the arch, and 49% from the field. Michael Bethea Jr. just couldn’t miss. He started the game 3/3 from outside, and finished with 6 made 3-pointers and 1 made field goal for a total of 20 points. Michael Bethea Jr is everything that Toronto Raptors fans expected Matt Thomas to be. The key to such a high field-goal percentage was careful shot selection, as no 905 player attempted more than 19 shots (Paul Watson). Instead, the 905 often passed up shots in favour of ball movement and assists. Jawun Evans, who is usually the 905’s primary scorer off the bench, only attempted 3 field goals, but accumulated 5 assists. The 905 only shot 14 free throws, and made 13 of them, but all of the starters finished with double-figure points, with Henry Ellenson totalling 31 by the final buzzer.
Late Game Execution: The Raptors 905, in the majority of their past losses, have held onto or come close to the lead in the first 3 quarters of every game. Then, for whatever reason, they begin to unravel. Thankfully, a flight to Memphis is long enough to discuss how to fix their end of game missteps, and where to go from here. The Raptors 905 outscored the Memphis Hustle in both the first and second quarter, but by the end of the third it appeared they were headed in an all too familiar direction, being outscored 28-32 with the game tied at 99-99. While a fourth quarter ramp-up was expected, it was assumed that it would be the home team, not the visitors who had lost nearly all of their games in the fourth quarter. But the Raptors 905 were not going to go down without a fight, and were not going to continue their reputation as the team that can’t finish. Toronto pulled out all the tricks in the final 12 minutes. Rebounding as a team at both ends of the floor, ball movement, defence on the Hustle’s shooters, a put-back slam from Devin Robinson, and even a successful coach’s challenge for Jama Mahlalela. The Raptors 905 outscored the Memphis Hustle 30-19 in the fourth quarter, giving them an 11 point victory on the road.
Hustle and Hounds: The Memphis Hustle host “Hustle and Hounds” nights during the season where those in attendance are allowed to bring their dogs to the games. Animal rescue agencies also attend the games, giving fans the opportunity to take home a recue dog or donate to their causes. As far as I know, the 905 did not bring home any available dogs, so I guess this part could go in the bad column?
Pace: The Memphis Hustle are a much slower team than the Greensboro Swarm, so it could have been a good game for Sagaba Konate to get his reps in. Oh well. Sometimes that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.
Liar Liar Pants on Fire: The Memphis Hustle don’t even play in Memphis. They play in Mississippi.
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