Final Score | Raptors 905 116 – Cleveland Charge 114| Box Score
Two Ways: RJ Nembhard (Charge)
On Assignment: Dalano Banton (905), Isaac Bonga (905)
Inactive: David Johnson (905), Justin Champagnie (905), Obadiah Noel (905), Isaac Bonga (905), Brandon Goodwin (Charge), Justin James (Charge), Tacko Fall (Charge)
A career night from Dalano Banton allowed the Raptors 905 to narrowly avoid going to overtime against the sizeable Cleveland Charge, improving their record to 6-2. Head Coach Patrick Mutombo stressed pre-game the importance of crashing the glass, getting into the paint, and generating the offence through the defence, and that was exactly what the 905 did. Relentless on the glass, the 905 totalled 42 defensive rebounds, countering the Charge, who managed to grab only 7 offensive boards, totalling just 9 second chance points. The 905, who lead by as many as 19, allowed 35 points in the fourth quarter, permitting the Charge to bring the game right down to the wire, much to Mutombo’s dismay. Though an ugly win is still a win, Mutombo voiced his displeasure with his team’s performance during his post-game press conference. Mutombo, who has always believed that it is extremely hard to beat a team twice, especially in a row, will most certainly use the 48 hours between games against Cleveland to shore up all of the small mistakes that allowed this game to get so close.
Career Night: On the stat sheet, Dalano Banton, who arrived Thursday at noon from Dallas, had the best night of his career. His 33 points became a new career high, shooting 13 of 22 from the field. But it was Banton’s impact that won the game. His approach to the game was much different than we had seen on past assignments, playing a team-first game. We saw him defending the lengthy Charge, calling plays and communicating with his teammates, and generating offence through the team rather than a one-man game. He moved the ball more than he previously had with the 905, inspiring confidence in and from his teammates. His shot selection was carefully crafted, recognizing when his teammates had a better chance than him, and gliding, with or without the ball, to where he needed to be to see the team succeed. This is the style of play we need Banton, in his rookie year, to approach the game with in order to take it to the next level, have longevity in the NBA, and become a star in future seasons. This type of inclusive basketball, which Banton showed he is more than capable of, is what will have him crack Nick Nurse’s current 6 man rotation.
Next Man Up: When Isaac Bonga, who was scheduled to start, was deemed inactive at the last minute, Breein Tyree got the memo that he would be starting. Though undersized against the Charge, Tyree stepped up in a big way, taking the role of floor general and willing the team to a win through his pitbull-like hunger for success. Tyree, who returned to action this season after an ACL tear in the bubble, appeared fearless. He drove through double teams and out-rebounded defenders nearly a foot taller than him, even blocking a shot at the rim. He dominated with both the starters and the bench unit, shooting 10 of 17 from the field and finishing with 27 points.
Bench Mob?: When the starters were struggling, Coach Mutombo did not hesitate to sub them out, trusting fully in his bench to be able to pick up the slack. 40 of the 905’s 116 points were scored from substitutions, as were 26 of the 56 rebounds.
Mental Toughness: Reggie Perry can set screens harder than anyone I’ve ever seen with the 905, and can move laterally from them with the elegance of a gazelle. He can rebound with the best of them, and when he’s on, he’s on. The problem with Perry is that when his shots aren’t falling, he immediately gets in his own head. Easily frustrated and down on himself, Perry struggles to get back into the mindset that allowed him to be drafted 57th just 2 years ago. He has all of the tools to become a very successful big man, he just needs to remember that his impact can extend far beyond scoring.
Starters: Only 2 starters logged more than 21 minutes against the Charge; Dalano Banton and Breein Tyree. The struggles began early and we saw very little of Harris, Best, or Perry in the second half of the game. It can most likely be chalked up to an off-night, and if Coach Mutombo doesn’t change the starting lineup for Saturday’s rematch, expect to see an improvement in each of the 3 who were removed early.
Turnovers: Coach Mutombo drills the importance of preventing turnovers into his team’s heads on a daily, probably hourly, basis. Sometimes they remember, sometimes they don’t. The 26 turnovers committed would suggest that this game was the latter. 6 of the 26 were at the hands of Dalano Banton, who immediately took accountability post-game and ensured we would not see that from him again.
The 905 will return to the Paramount Fine Foods Centre for a rematch against the Charge on Saturday, January 22nd.