Final Score | Raptors 905 123 – Motor City Cruise 116 | Box Score
Two Ways: Jamorko Pickett (Cruise), Chris Smith (Cruise)
On Assignment: Isaac Bonga (905)
Inactive: Breein Tyree (905), Justin Champagnie (905), David Johnson (905), ShawnDre Jones (Cruise)
It was a game of back and forth baskets between the Raptors 905 and the Motor City Cruise during their first meeting of the season, with a record 22 lead changes that eventually sent the game to overtime. You can feel the team coming together and getting closer, both on and off of the court. On the court, players are now able to see each other’s strengths and weaknesses, like the connection between Kevon Harris and Jodie Meeks that contributed to 7 assists and 36 points between the two of them. During a review timeout in the fourth quarter the 905 players on the court gathered in their own huddle, discussing amongst themselves what to do when play resumed. Taking it into their own hands without deferring to the coaches is a sign that the team is gaining confidence in themselves, learning and running actions that they feel the coaches would approve of and that would be the most successful. When the 905 had a chance to tie the game with 1.6 seconds left, nearly everyone, including Kevon Harris expected Reggie Perry to take the shot. Instead, Perry, after receiving the inbounds from Aaron Best, swung the ball to the ever ready Kevon Harris for a catch and shoot jumper that sent the game to overtime, where Harris’ performance would give the 905 a 7 point win.
Dog Mentality: Kevon Harris possesses the same dog mentality that he so often attributes to his teammates. After scoring only 2 points in the first half, it was Harris who took over late in the third and all the way throughout the fourth quarter, sending the game to overtime where he would score or assist on nearly all of the 905’s 7 points. Post-game, Coach Mutombo acknowledged that without Harris, the 905 would not have won the game. He praised Kevon for his patience with the team, reflecting on the bubble season where Harris barely saw the floor, but never complained and always used the time on the bench to mentally better himself for future minutes. When asked about his plans for the 4 days in between games, Harris did not plan to play video games and relax, instead stating that he would “probably be back here” at the practice gym getting shots up. Mutombo was not present for this statement, but had earlier applauded Kevon on his work ethic and desire to get better each and every day. I don’t know how to say this professionally but JUST LEAGUE HIM ALREADY.
Stay-At-Home Offence: Of the 123 total points for the 905, 60 of them came in the paint. This had been a problem for the 905 prior to the game against the Cruise, as their low-post scoring had felt, at times, non-existent. It’s no surprise that the 905 have tightened up on the inside, but it is surprising that they were able to do it almost overnight. The addition of Justin Smith, the ultimate paint protector, certainly helps the 905 on the inside, and the energy and calmness he brings seeps into the fibre of his teammates.
With the Quickness: The Motor City Cruise are SO FAST in their sets. They’ve rotated into a new set before the 905 have even had time to analyze the prior one. This wasn’t necessarily bad for the 905, just really good for the Cruise and really hard to defend (and honestly, probably exhausting to keep up with). But I had to stick something here in an otherwise awesome game.
The Raptors 905 return to the Paramount Fine Foods Centre on January 31st to take on the Capital City Go-Go.