G-League

Raptors 905 beat SkyHawks; climb within half-game of playoff spot

Final Score | Raptors 905 124, College Park SkyHawks 120 | Box Score

Two Ways: Paul Watson Jr. (905), Charles Brown Jr. (SkyHawks)

Inactive: Oshae Brissett (905, back), Nicholas Baer (905, DNP-CD)

The Raptors 905 leapfrogged the College Spark SkyHawks for seventh place in the Eastern Conference with a 124-120 win. The 905 are 21-21, the first time they’ve reached the .500 mark since they were…. 0-0.

The final two minutes were highly dramatic yet completely unwatchable. The 905 scored their final eight points on free throws, which was complimented by the one field goal combined between the two teams in the final 2:40 of regulation. The 905 now sit a half-game back of the Capital City Go Go for the sixth and final playoff spot with eight games remaining.

Henry Ellenson led the 905 with 24 points. Tyler Ennis and Devin Robinson each scored 21, with Ennis adding a team-high 10 assists, and Robinson adding a team-high 13 rebounds. Back after missing three games with a sprained ankle, Robinson sank six of six free throws in the final two minutes to help clinch the win.

The Moment

Let us pause to reflect on the life that was College Park SkyHawks guard Cat Barber.

Remind anyone of this?

The Sneaky Gamebreaker

Tyler Ennis may have only shot 7-for-22 from the field, but his third quarter marked the game’s most critical inflection point. He put up 12 points (4-for-7 FG) with a tantalizing array of hesitation dribbles, lefty layups off his left foot, and a devastating step back three. Ennis added two assists and three rebounds in the frame, helping to expand the 905’s lead from three at half time to 11 headed into the fourth. He also played the full 12 minutes, and the first three minutes of the fourth.

“He’s our leader and he sets the stage for us and he gets people where they’re supposed to be, and gets the ball moving where it’s supposed to go,” head coach Jama Mahlalela said. “If he can stay in shape enough we’ll play him enough minutes for him to continue to do that for us.”

The X-Factor

Justin Reyes‘s season has been marred by injury, a struggle to get back into peak fitness, and a persistent battle to find minutes and productivity. But on the biggest night of the season (every proceeding game becomes the biggest of the season with the playoffs approaching), Reyes scored 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting and grabbed four offensive rebounds, all while logging his second-highest minutes total of the season (25:39).

“Reyes’s offensive rebounding, his presence, his force, his physicality really won us a basketball game,” Mahlalela raved, and that’s just the technical side of Mahlalela’s pride for his player. The emotional side is where Mahlalela really becomes animated.

“There’s for sure moments of doubt. There’s for sure moments when you wake up and think ‘I can’t do this’, or ‘this is not for me’, or ‘what’s going on here’,” Mahalela said of Reyes’s trying season. “But it’s perseverance. And to me that’s what perseverance is – to have those moments, to feel that way, and then get up the very next day and come back with a bit more positive attitude and come back with some more fight and hunger, and that’s what Reyes has done. So has he doubted himself or doubted the situation? Without question. But he’s also come back every day and kept on working. That’s what being a pro is about. You’re gonna have doubts, but he keeps on coming back, which is awesome.”

The Asides

Henry Ellenson was 1-for-18 from distance over his last three games heading into Monday’s game. Consider the slump busted, as Ellenson shot  4-for-7 from deep, 9-for-13 overall, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out six assists. In 16 games with the 905, Ellenson is shooting 41.5% from three, and the team is 11-and-5.

“He’s always been so talented offensively,” Ennis said of Ellenson. “He’s not a seven-footer, but he’s just kind of a bruiser for us. We’ve played super small at times this year, and adding him and letting Devin get out and run a little bit more and play more of the four gives us different options. He comes in and he’s efficient, he scores, rebounds. I think that’s exactly what we need at this point of the season. We’re all ecstatic that he’s here and he’s fit in perfectly for us.”

-fun play in the fourth – Ellenson missed a shot inside, got poked in the eye, grabbed said eye with one hand, fell to the ground, poked the ball away from SkyHawks forward Mark Ogden Jr. from his butt, and got the ball back for an uncontested dunk.

-the Sagaba Konate experience was in full force on Monday. In 11 minutes he went 3-for-3, scored nine points, blocked two shots, gave up a couple preventable layups, and made a three. The big man also continued his tradition of heading back onto the court after the final buzzer to get up shots.

In a prototypical G League scheduling quirk, the 905 host the SkyHawks again on Wednesday in another game packed with playoff implications.

The Friendly Reminder

Raptors Republic is hooking you up with a sweet discount code for Raptors 905 tickets. Follow this link and use the code RR905. https://bit.ly/2pTZgn6 . The 905’s next home game is Wednesday, March 11th.

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