Final Score: Raptors 905 117, Fort Wayne Mad Ants 122 | Box Score
Two Ways: Jalen Harris (905), Brian Bowen II, Cassius Stanley (Mad Ants)
The 905 couldn’t convert on opportunities to win at the horn in the fourth quarter and the first overtime, then faded in double overtime, falling to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants by five. Henry Ellenson had team highs of 26 points and 12 rebounds. Jalen Harris was the team’s second leading scorer with 20 points, but left in the fourth quarter with an apparent hand injury (no update was provided post game). Former 905er and Mississauga-native Oshae Brissett had a game-high 28 points for the Mad Ants, punctuated by a poster dunk on Ellenson in double overtime.
With Malachi Flynn getting called up to the parent club on Thursday, the 905 had to distribute 20 points, six assists, one and a half steals, 34 minutes and some trash talk amongst the rest of the team. It’s that last intangible point that seemed to be lacking for the first three-plus quarters of the game, where the 905 were perennially teetering on the game slipping away. While a lack of execution in the game’s late stages hurt the 905, their shaky start is what stuck out for Head Coach Patrick Mutombo.
“(Early on we were) undisciplined offensively. I saw selfishness creep in. Too many bad shots that led to easy transition opportunities.” Mutombo said post game, as the Mad Ants shot 59% from the field in the first half. “I didn’t see enough toughness protecting the paint. The end of game stuff – yes it’s important but we gotta look at how we started and what was our collective disposition.”
The 905 (4-3) continue a stretch of five games in seven days Monday at 7:30pm ET against the Memphis Hustle.
Raptors 905 Notes
- Ellenson‘s 26 points appear almost mundane at this point, since he’s proven he can score prolifically at the G League level. But his and-1 in the final 20 seconds of regulation to give the 905 the lead was notable for its timing and tenacity. The defensive end is where Ellenson has yet to prove himself, but in the final minute of regulation and on, Ellenson took a charge, forced two misses at the rim, and played another pick and roll well, only to have a pass bounce off a Mad Ant’s face to another teammate for a layup. While Ellenson’s defence in the last five minutes of the game (one minute of the fourth quarter, plus two two-minute overtime periods) was unassailable, that still left 29 other minutes of his playing time that Coach Mutombo was not satisfied with.
- “We need more,” Coach Mutombo said. “(Giving up) 68 points in the paint aint gonna cut it. If we want to win, giving up SIXTY-EIGHT paint points – that ain’t gonna do it. Need to be tougher. It’s not just Henry. It’s all of us.”
- Gary Payton II filled up the stat sheet with 15 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and three steals. For Payton it’s now seven games where he’s made a statistical and eye-test impact. He’s averaging 11 points on 60% shooting, has 18 total steals, and four eye-popping dunks. He may never be an effective three point shooter (28% for his NBA career), but that’s on only 1.6 attempts a game – meaning he knows his strengths and weaknesses. The veteran of 61 NBA games over the previous four seasons deserves another chance in the League. Side note – the 6’3 Payton took the jump balls in overtime and double overtime, winning the first one cleanly, but losing the second.
- At 6’4 Jalen Harris might be slightly undersized at the two, but he makes up for it with an elite vertical, a tight handle, and brute strength. Harris made two trips to the foul line in the first half, and finished a nice and-1 with a flex in the second half. With Flynn gone Harris should also see more primary ball-handling duties, as he played that role plenty at Nevada. Harris showed off that side of his game late in the fourth quarter when he drove into the paint, kicked to sharpshooter Matt Mooney at the elbow, then relocated beautifully to the corner for a three pointer. Unfortunately Harris left the game with an apparent hand injury, which was already wrapped.
- Nik Stauskas went 3-for-6 from distance in the first half with all three makes coming off the dribble, something Stauskas isn’t known for. In the second half Stauskas got a number of clean spot-up looks from deep, but missed all of them. He’s now 14-for-50 (28%) from distance in the bubble, and 18-for-27 (67%) from two point range. The long range stroke needs to come around soon if the 905 want a better chance at competing for one of eight playoff spots in a 15-game season.
Mad Ants Notes
- With the Raptors cutting Oshae Brissett before the regular season, everyone knew the Mississauga-native was going to be amped. And he delivered. Brissett used his 6’7, 210 pound frame (what they call an “NBA body”) to finish at the rim at will, going 6-for-9 from two. He also went 3-for-9 from three point range – pretty strong compared to his 27.5 3PT% (on 4.7 attempts) last season with the 905.
- 7-foot centre Amida Brimah dominated the undersized 905 in the paint. Offensively Brimah went 6-for-6 from the field. Defensively Brimah had five blocks and altered several more shots. Most notable was Brimah blocking 905 centre Alize Johnson’s dunk attempt in double overtime that would have tied the game.
Shameless Promotional Note
Please check out the Rapcast podcast feed for our series of Raptors 905 podcasts where we interview 905 players’ college coaches, beat reporters and commentators. This series is under the aptly named “The Interview” title.