The 905 didn’t start off on the right foot.
At the end of the first quarter, they trailed Capital City, 27-40. After two consecutive transition buckets, head coach Eric Khoury took a timeout with 3:10 left. By then, Cap City was up 15, shooting 4-for-8 behind the arc.
The 905 won the second and third quarter marginally; they led by three points, 28-25, in the second, and one point, 30-29, in the third.
The 905’s first quarter deficit, and Cap City’s ability to maintain the lead, made the fourth quarter comeback attempt harder. In the second half, the 905 limited their paint scoring to 16 after conceding 38 paint points in the first half, and giving up 82 of them the night before. There was improvement over the course of the back-to-back series.
In the third quarter, Ron Harper’s reverse layup put the 905 within 10, and Hassani Gravett had a beautiful reverse as well, and then answered with a triple to nullify Isaiah Mucius’ made three. Plays like these kept the 905’s spirit alive, even when Cap City kept a double-digit lead.
Reggie Perry’s fourth quarter heroics got the 905 really close to a W. At the start of the fourth, the 905 were down nine points. Within a 1:06-timespan, Perry scored, Isaiah Todd turned the ball over, Darryl Morsell hit the transition take free throw (one point), Perry hit a free throw and blocked Quenton Jackson, and David Johnson converted that into a quick deuce. In a quick flash, the 905 were back in the game.
Then, there was no scoring for a minute and 10 seconds until Kris Dunn got to the line, but Perry hit a turnaround hook to inch within four, then he went into Super Saiyan Mode to inch within two.
Makur Maker hit a three to widen the lead by five, but the 905 kept pushing. Gabe Brown made a layup, then it was all Perry, Perry, Perry. He made a layup after Morsell probed and waited until Perry was deeper in the paint. And then, he made an and-1 shot, the first 905 lead since the start of the first quarter. There were eight lead changes in the fourth with zero ties.
Perry’s free throw to complete the and-1 gave the 905 a two-point lead, but his frustration at a non-call poured out, and it gave Cap City a technical free throw. They went up 107-105. A bit of a free throw shooting game ensued until the final three minutes, the 905 down 110-113.
Cap City capitalized on Perry’s missed layup, and Kris Dunn’s bucket pushed the lead up by five with a minute and four seconds. Maker grabbed an offensive rebound (total 13 boards, three offensive) with 43 seconds, off Craig Sword’s missed three, and hit both free throws to push the lead up to 7. With 43 seconds left, the 905 came within five, but by then, the game was over.
The 905 were missing Saben Lee and Joe Wieskamp, and competed against the same Cap City roster minus Jordan Schakel. Harper and Devon Dotson were the sole two-ways on their respective rosters, and the 905 had one assignee in Dalano Banton and Cap City two in Isaiah Todd and Vernon Carey.
The 905 hit the road for a three games, starting with the 1-5 Motor City Cruise.
Banton, along with Perry, was instrumental in the second quarter when the 905 were down 16 points at one point. He hit a three, a floater, found Wooten down low for an easy bucket, and nailed a pull-up three in transition to inch within eight. But then a 905 foul on Craig Sword, after grabbing the offensive board, sent him to the line. He missed the free throw, so the 905 were able to keep the deficit to 10 points, trailing Cap City 55-65, at halftime.
Kudos to Ron for adapting to his role. He had 22 points, but was cool with taking only four shots in the second half and taking a backseat when he went 4-for-7 in the first half.
Perry led all scorers with 37 points, and grabbed 9 boards. He didn’t have Saben Lee initiating pick-and-rolls, nor Joe Wieskamp’s shooting. Perry put the team on his back, and went into full attack mode in the fourth quarter, when the 905 needed him the most. He exploded for 17 points on 6-for-10 shooting without a turnover.
To nit pick here may not seem fair, given there’d be no fourth quarter comeback attempt without Perry. But that same passion that led the comeback attempt can also be his weakness.
The cost of a missed lay-up is extremely high as the player’s momentum forces him into the baseline. When the basket is made, the opponent inbounding the ball buys time, but when missed, the player is briefly off the court while the game is going on. When being out of frame is coupled with a hands-up, “Where’s the foul, ref” complaint and ensuing trod and headshake, it only widens the marginal advantage the transition offense already has.
Perry did this twice. Once, when the 905 were down one point, 105-106. Frustrated at the non-whistle on the play earlier, he got T-ed up in the defensive end. Second, Perry did this again with 1:24 left in the game with the 905 down three. Kris Dunn’s bucket on the other end to pushed the lead to 5.
Earlier this week, Fred VanVleet spoke on The Old Man & the Three about having such high self-expectations that achievements are rarely celebrated because they are the norm. If Perry’s expectation is not only to return to the NBA, but thrive in it, then doing this twice in clutch time can never happen, even if he can dominate offensively, at will.
But it wasn’t Perry’s conduct(s) that lost the 905 their game. It should just never happen from such a talented player who wants to return and thrive in the Association. He’s still 22 years old!
Morsell is still quite new to the 905, but deserves a mention here. He hit a key triple from the left corner to put the 905 up 108-107. He shot a perfect 3-for-3 from downtown. Defensively, he had a great block on Quenton Jackson, as well.
But most notably, his decision to take the extra dribble, probe, and pass to Perry down low instead of feeding him in the right elbow showed his ability to create on baseline drives.
It reminded me of this play against Long Island.