Final Score: Raptors 905 117, Salt Lake City Stars 92 | Box Score
Two Ways: Jalen Harris (905), Tyler Bey (Stars)
It had the makings of a ‘trap’ game.
The early morning tip-off, coupled with playing on consecutive days, propelled the Raptors 905 to a slow start against the Salt Lake City Stars on Thursday.
After the first quarter, the 905 were down by nine, only shooting 33 percent from the field.
905 head coach Patrick Mutombo called a timeout in the second quarter. As he got into the huddle, Malachi Flynn assumed the mantle in galvanizing his team.
“We got it,” Flynn said.
Mutombo stepped away from the huddle and didn’t need to say anything more. The 905 flipped the switch and roared back, putting together a complete team effort on both ends of the floor. They defeated the Stars 117-92, their third straight victory, putting them in 7th place in the G League standings.
For Mutombo, this was a character-building game that his team can build on, heading into a two-day break.
“Our willingness to win and compete and not use excuses: back-to-back, tired legs,” said Mutombo on how this game revealed character in his team. “We didn’t use any of that. We understand that it’s not about now. It’s about the big picture.”
2021 Raptors draft pick Jalen Harris led the 905 in scoring on Thursday with 12-of-17 shooting from the field. His confidence in his shot from beyond the arc is increasing, recording seven threes. The chemistry with his teammate and former opponent in college, Malachi Flynn, is growing. Below, Flynn waits at the top of the key and finds Harris fake to the corner and cut to the basket for the alley-oop:
“I’d rather be playing with him than against him,” Harris said on Flynn. “Having that college relationship – I think it carries over to this point. So I think we were both kind of looking forward to it once we got here. So I think we’ll continue to build that chemistry and continue to put forth those types of plays.”
Harris feels like his rhythm is coming into shape, after a long layoff without basketball.
“Not playing in a while I think it takes guys time to catch a rhythm. But I also think my teammates did a great job of finding me, especially in transition and once I got going.”
Alize Johnson continues to impress, recording a double-double 13 points, and 22 rebounds on 6-of-12 shooting from the field. His presence inside is evident, being a stable force for the 905 on the glass. Johnson said after the game that his improved ball-handling is a result of offseason training.
“Those guys just have me in the lab, really tighten up my handle and it’s paying off right now to get out in transition and making the right sprays,” Johnson said when speaking of his trainers.
In addition to the rebounding, Johnson is also creating scoring opportunities for his teammates. Against Salt Lake City, there was a lot of open space in transition for Johnson to push the ball up to the court, finding guys like Flynn and Harris. He forced three steals, turning defense into offense, and made the extra pass which led to baskets, like this nifty assist to Henry Ellenson:
— Raptors 905 (@Raptors905) February 18, 2021
Johnson describes himself as the ‘X-Factor,’ making the critical plays that help the team succeed.
“My teammates trust me, Malachi, Jalen,” Johnson said. “I get it on the rebound and go and coach wants me to push in transition and make the right spray. As long as I’m out there making the right plays, it’s all good.”
Raptors 905 Notes:
– Alize Johnson spoke after the game about the lessons he learned from playing in the Indiana Pacers organization and how he’s applying them with this opportunity with the Raptors and the 905: “You know just stick with it. Just notice the process. Embrace everything. Really big shout out to those guys just, you know, those two years I was there telling me to stay ready and you know just working hard and get shots up every day. No matter what the situation was.”
– Gary Payton II left the game on Thursday with stomach discomfort and did not return. Mutombo had no update after the game regarding his status for Sunday.
– 2021 Raptors draft pick Malachi Flynn continues to impact the game more than just his scoring. He recorded 16 points, four three-pointers, four rebounds, and five assists. On Thursday evening, the Toronto Raptors recalled Flynn from the 905.
– Raptors 905 recognize assistant coach Brittni Donaldson after the game:
DJ Khalid voice: ANOTHA ONE!
— Raptors 905 (@Raptors905) February 18, 2021
Next Game: Sunday, February 21st vs. Fort Wayne Mad Ants (7:30 pm EST tip-off)