Final Score | Raptors 905 105, G League Ignite 113 | Box Score
Two-Ways: Jalen Harris (905)
The G League Ignite’s “big 3” of lottery draft prospects converged on an offensive clinic tonight combining for 69 points to continue their undefeated streak as Raptors 905 drop their second straight game 113-105. Early predictions that the newly formed Ignite would have a target on their backs all season have largely proven true, and tonight was the 905’s shot at taking down the young squad.
Daishen Nix scored a game-high 25 points for the Ignite, adding eight rebounds and six assists, as Jonathan Kuminga and Jalen Green recorded 23 and 21 each, respectively.
Nik Stauskas led the 905 with 23 points and Gary Payton II had a stellar overall performance off the bench scoring 15 points, 13 rebounds, and seven steals.
As the game tipped off, it didn’t take long for Brian Shaw to call the Ignite’s first time out after a Stauskas elbow pull-up jumper 80 seconds into the game.
A few possessions later, Jalen Harris, 22, took Green, 19, one-on-one and lost him on a spin move en route to an and-1 layup, briefly showing the difference in experience between a four-year college player versus a recent high school graduate.
But it didn’t take long for the Ignite to showcase why they are on the receiving end of the all of the spotlight and fanfare. Kuminga, a projected top-5 pick in 2021 NBA Draft, threw down a smooth dunk in transition off of an outlet pass from former Raptor Jarrett Jack, and moments later, the 18 year-old comfortably got Flynn to bite a pumpfake in a one-on-one maneuver along the extended elbow leading to a trip to the free throw line.
With under a minute remaining in the quarter, Nix missed a finishing opportunity contested by Payton II, as he could be heard screaming, “he don’t finish.” Nix got the last laugh and had some words to exchange seconds later after stealing the ball from Payton II and converting on the layup with continuation.
As the second quarter got underway, Payton II made his fifth steal of the half and slammed it down in transition for two of his 15 points in the game. The 905 continued to show their defensive chemistry, forcing the Ignite into a shot-clock violation, but on the next play Green made a steal and converted on layup off of a hard Payton II foul.
With 2:30 remaining in the half, the Ignite took it’s first lead of the game since early in the first quarter as Nix grabbed a rebound off of Ellenson’s missed floater and found Kuminga on a full-court outlet pass leading to another dunk for the 6-foot-8 forward. Nix would go on to score eight of the team’s last 10 points to end the half with a 63-59 lead over the 905.
Henry Ellenson scored the first points of the half for the 905 off of a smooth dropoff pass by Flynn, and a couple possessions later, Flynn showed off his handles taking Jack one-on-one off the dribble and pulling back into a midrange jumper.
Green put on display why he was by far the most athletic player on the floor on a play moments later that showed him throwing down a vicious one-handed dunk on a fastbreak. With perhaps some newfound confidence, Green looked like a seasoned pro knocking down an ISO 3-pointer on a pretty mini-dribbling exhibit to give the Ignite a 79-65 lead, its largest of the game.
Flynn responded on the next possession with a triple of his own, sparking an 8-0 run by the 905. The team continued to chip away as Flynn would knock down his third 3-pointer of the night off of a pass from Matt Mooney to cut the lead to 87-82 heading into the final frame.
Nearing the halfway point in the fourth, Stauskas knocked down a free throw for his 20th point to bring the 905 within one of the 93-92 Ignite lead.
As the 905 continued their woeful 19% shooting night from distance, the Ignite made the 905 pay on a quick pull-up miss by Flynn with a minute remaining in the game. With a rebound by Kuminga and a quick outlet pass, Green was already down the floor ready to hammer down an alley-oop lob by Jack. With 27 seconds remaining, Nix took Ellenson on an ISO attack to the basket, spinning his way into a layup that would turn the game into a three possession game, icing the night for the young Ignite team.
The 905 will resume action on Monday February 15 against the Santa Cruz Warriors at 7:00PM.
Raptors 905 Notes:
- Malachi Flynn put up 11 points tonight and made a handful of nice plays throughout the game but overall he struggled converting his shots, going 4 of 15 and 3 of 10 from distance. It’s very clear that Flynn has the ability to create his own shot, and there are so many options he has once he has his defender beat as he routinely does. However, an area of improvement we’ll be keeping an eye on is how consistent he can make his shots either down the lane or on the pull-up/catch-and-shoot 3
- Gary Payton II reminded us tonight why he was a 2x PAC-12 DPOY in his college career with Oregon State. Payton II recorded five steals in the first half alone leading to a field goal on many of those possessions. Payton II, 28, was seemingly in MJ’s “I took that personally” mode tonight against the Ignite’s young players, and it was great to watch the back-and-forth he and players like Daishen Nix had. Payton II has been solid off the bench and I’m looking forward to seeing how he will continue to impact the club as the season goes on
- We know Nik Stauskas can score the ball, but what I love seeing so far in this G League season is how much of a “veteran swag” he has at doing it and the range of weapons he’s showing off. He’s capable of consistently knocking down the open 3-pointer, looks very comfortable pump-faking and taking a few dribbles to the elbow for a jumper, and just looks really in rhythm overall. Stauskas made a couple of nice plays to close out the first half too, attacking and beating Daishen Nix on one play to kick it out for an Ellenson corner 3, and then he made a nice cut along the baseline where Harris hit him for the layup
- Jalen Harris had a quiet night, going 3 for 12 and didn’t really have much impact on tonight’s matchup. Harris made a nice spin move on Jalen Green for the and-1 in the first quarter, but sort of disappeared the rest of the night. The 905 have shown they have a lot of scoring options, so it’s not a surprise either that we didn’t see a lot from Harris on a struggling shooting night like this evening
G League Ignite Notes:
- Jalen Green is going to be a very good player in the NBA (you’re welcome for this original and expert take). You can see once he gained some confidence after the dunk that he has the ability to go into takeover mode, especially going at his defenders one-on-one. He was by far the most athletic player on the court, and really has the full package in terms of shooting, finishing, and isolation play. I’m excited to see how he does the rest of the season and the impact he’ll have in the NBA
- Jonathan Kuminga has been dubbed “most NBA-ready” player on the Ignite, and with the physical tools that he has, he’s shown that he’s not afraid to go into attack mode. Kuminga leads his team in free throw shooting and has attempted at least 10 free throws in the past two games. Tonight he recorded his first double-double of the season with 23 and 13.
- While Green and Kuminga are the projected top-5 picks in the 2021 NBA Draft, Daishen Nix showed tonight that he is equally worthy of the Ignite spotlight. Nix, who turned 19 today, flirted with a triple-double tonight (25-8-6) off the bench running the point for his team. It really looked like Gary Payton II was challenging him early in the game (“he don’t finish”) and I thought Nix responded really well not just at that moment but for the rest of the evening
- Overall, it was really fun to watch this Ignite team tonight and I 100% believe more top draft prospects will be going the G League route in the future