Final Score | Raptors 905 103 – Long Island Nets 102| Box Score
Two Ways: David Johnson (905), Justin Champagnie (905)
On Assignment: Malachi Flynn (905), Isaac Bonga (905), Dalano Banton (905)
Inactive: Ashton Hagans (905), David Duke Jr (Nets), Kessler Edwards (Nets)
Even an ugly win is still a win, as the Raptors 905 proved against the Long Island Nets, bringing their record to 3-0 to begin the season. With less than a minute left in the fourth quarter, it appeared that the 905’s unblemished, yet small sample sized record was going to receive it’s first entry to the loss column. Down 5, the Raptors 905 benefited from the Long Island timeout, as Reggie Perry rebounded the missed shot by Long Island, sending it ahead to Dalano Banton and immediately setting the screen for Banton, who swung the ball to the top of the arch for Isaac Bonga, who would be fouled on the drive and make the second of his two free throws. A missed Dalano Banton shot on the next possession would allow Reggie Perry to grab the long rebound for a catch and shoot 3. With the Long Island lead cut to 4, and another timeout called with 19.2 seconds remaining, new roster addition Justin Smith would bank a shot off of the glass. Saving their reset timeout until the final 4 seconds of the game, the 905 moved the ball down the court with the initial plan of getting the ball into Dalano Banton’s hands. Banton’s decision to swing the ball to Isaac Bonga surprised everyone, including Bonga, who knocked down the catch and shoot 3, giving the 905 a one point lead and his very first crunch time make of his career.
Bing-Bonga: It should come as no surprise to anyone who has read a recap from this season that I am extremely high on Isaac Bonga, but I’m not the only one. Head Coach Patrick Mutombo praised Bonga on his professionalism, his ability to stay ready and calm in clutch situations, and his “Swiss Army Knife” skillset (I think I’ve called him that as well. Coach…are you reading my recaps?). It wasn’t just Bonga’s game-winning shot that earned him such acclamation from his coach and his peers, but his constant ability and desire to play team basketball. A 2018 draft pick, Bonga has been in the league longer than any of the other two-ways or assignees for the Raptors, yet he is the most flexible in terms of adjusting his game to better suit his team. He chooses his shots carefully, only attempting 12 throughout the game, and always makes the extra read. There is hardly a mistake that he can’t rectify, be it his own or his teammates’, and he gives just as much effort on defence as he does on the scoreboard. I’m not sure if Isaac Bonga has ever looked at a stat sheet in his life, because he just isn’t that type of player, and the 905 are all the better for it.
Perimeter Defence: The 905 held the Long Island Nets to less than 18% from 3, allowing only 5 of the Nets’ 28 attempts to hit the basket. The 905 have been working tirelessly on their defence, learning to defend vertically and without fouling, and it was evident in this game in particular that the work is paying off. The length of the 905 already made long-range shooting difficult for the Nets, but the work they put in is what made it nearly impossible.
Consistency: Kevon Harris has started all three of the 905’s regular season games thus far, and it is for good reason. Like Bonga, Harris is a player whose impact is seen more on the floor than on the stat sheet, and when utilized properly, allows a smooth game for whichever team he is playing for. He is automatic from outside, and his regular teammates are aware of this, always feeding his hand that never goes cold. He can read a play before it happens, positioning himself perfectly to deflect the ball and run, while at the same time seeing exactly which teammates will be open. If the 905 offence was run through Harris just a little bit more, the game would not have come down to a last second shot and a one point win.
Assignees: What is good for the goose is not always good for the gander, or in this case, what is good for the Raptors is not what’s good for the 905. Sending the likes of Banton and Flynn down to get reps in may be beneficial for the Raptors, but if the 905 want to win games and develop their regular roster players, Flynn and Banton should not shoot a combined 41 shots when the end result is making only 15 of them. This stagnates the rest of the team both developmentally and in real-time action. Between Banton and Flynn, and recent 10-day returnee, Reggie Perry, it was as if the 905 had 3 players on the court while the Nets had 5. When the players not included in the trifecta start to run their own plays, and go get theirs, you can hardly blame them. Breein Tyree did not have a single touch until the one minute mark of the first quarter. This should not happen, ever. It isn’t a talent issue that can’t be fixed. It isn’t an off shooting night or a night where the rim has a lid. This is entirely a personnel issue.
The Raptors 905 head to Washington to play the Capital City Go Go on Thursday, January 13th.