Fourth Quarter Takeover Gives Raptors 905 Third Win Over Westchester Knicks

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Via: Zach_NPH/Instagram

Final Score | Raptors 905  112 –  Westchester Knicks 105| Box Score

Two Ways: None

On Assignment: Dalano Banton (905), Malachi Flynn (905), Yuta Watanabe (905)

Inactive: David Johnson (905), Justin Champagnie (905), Breein Tyree (905), Tyler Hall (Knicks), Allen Crabbe (Knicks), Jericho Sims (Knicks), Luka Samanic (Knicks)

Before we even get into what happened during the game, I need everyone to know what happened before and after the game. We are all under the impression that Yuta Watanabe is perhaps the nicest person to ever grace this planet. Having the privilege to speak with him after his 24 point, 10 rebound double double, I can confirm that however nice you think he is, he is about a million times nicer than that. Not only did he ask to be sent down to the G League to return to conditioning, he actually opened his post-game scrum by thanking the 905 organization and its players for allowing him the opportunity to play. He acknowledged that when NBA players are assigned to their respective G League teams, for whatever reason, it often eats into the playing time of regular rotation players, and stated that he was thankful that the team embraced him with open arms, allowing him to do what he needed to do in order to get his groove back. In my years covering the 905, I don’t think I’ve ever seen or heard this from an NBA player. I would run in front of a bus for him, no questions asked.

The game began with the 905 and the Knicks trading baskets for almost the entirety of the first half. The 9-0 run that the 905 began with was quickly squandered, as Westchester found their rhythm after they were fouled on a 3-point-attempt and then made two more 3’s nearly back to back. Finding their presence in the post with the size of Aamir Simms and Dewan Hernandez allowed Westchester to counter every basket made by the 905, giving them a 4 point lead heading into half time. It was the vocal leadership from Jodie Meeks and Aaron Best in the third quarter that kept the 905 in the game. After a hard foul by Kevon Harris (an answer to an even harder foul committed by Westchester on Malachi Flynn), Both Meeks and Best took Harris, who was obviously frustrated, aside to teach and talk to him while the foul was being reviewed. On the court, Best could be heard directing traffic, with his 4 assists helping to cut the Westchester lead down from 14 to 5. While Best’s determination kept the 905 in the game, it was Dalano Banton’s natural talent that won it for them in the 4th quarter. Finishing with 31 points, just 2 shy of his career best that he recorded the game prior, Banton was everywhere and doing everything. Every game with the 905 as of late has shown tremendous growth in Banton, whose head down scoring works only to a point. He was making plays, defending hard and closing out, and threw a gorgeous lob to Yuta for a nail-in-the-coffin alley-oop. Rarely do we see him get frustrated with himself, but his time with the 905 is allowing him to take accountability and correct his mistakes to polish his game.

The Good:

Accountability: Post-game, Yuta Watanabe mentioned that the assignees were the reason that the 905 were losing heading into the fourth quarter. He, Flynn, and Banton discussed this, acknowledging that if the 905 were to lose this game, it would be unfair to them and their record as it was not the fault of the regular rotation players, but of those who were sent down. Coach Patrick Mutombo stated something similar, telling media that he spoke with Dalano Banton, holding him accountable for his mistakes and play-style in order for him to play up to his potential. Both are examples of the maturity we are witnessing from these young men both on and off the court, and the tough love that is sometimes needed in the big leagues.

Veteran Leadership: Something has switched in the 905 since the addition of Jodie Meeks and Aaron Best. Meeks has the NBA experience (and championship ring) and Best has the G-League experience that allows them to take on a leadership role, even when they are not seeing the most minutes. Both can constantly be seen coaching from the sidelines, taking players aside, and directing traffic on the floor. G League teams are fortunate to have a veteran leader to learn from, and the 905 are lucky to have two.

The Bad:

It’s All In Your Head: Malachi Flynn needs a week off. No practice, no film, just a week to reset his mind. Watching him play at this point is very reminiscent of the period in time when Norman Powell would overthink every possession, almost always to his own detriment. The mental toll it must take on a player when they are unable to perform at either level and then have to read about it online later is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

The Raptors 905 are back in action at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre on Wednesday, January 26th at 7:00 p.m to take on the Motor City Cruise.

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