The Motor City cruise came into Thursday night’s game 1-5. The 905, who came in 2-4, needed to take advantage of a roster without a two-way or Pistons assignees. The 905 had a one of each in Ron Harper and Dalano Banton.
The 905 get off to a lead in the first quarter, but the Cruise kept chipping away. They answered with a 18-5 run to close out the first half after Reggie Perry show-and-goed right pass Devontae Cacok Cacock for an easy bucket. The Cruise won the second quarter, 30-19, and took a three-point lead, 48-45, going into halftime.
The third was a neck-and-neck affair with four ties, but Gabe Brown’s back-to-back triples widened the lead to to seven and ten. The 905 maintained the lead throughout the fourth despite some late three-point flame-throwing by the Cruise at the end. They went 9-for-18 from three in the fourth quarter, and shot an incredible 6-for-13 from downtown Detroit in the final six minutes.
The 905 led by 10 points with 42 seconds left, and the late-game fouling became a 905 free throw contest. The Cruise got as close as four points, but the 905 excelled; they closed out the game hititng all eight free throws. Brown hit the last two to cement the 105-99 win.
Th 905 are still under .500 at 3-4, and will take on former 905er Justin Champagnie and the 6-3 Sioux Falls, and 3-2 Wisconsin Herd on the road.
Darryl Morsell is finding a role in the 905, and 6-foot-10 forward Aaron Epps finally got his debut. The 905 went 11-deep, with everyone getting some reps in before they take on two stronger teams.
Assignee Dalano Banton and two-way Ron Harper both combined for only 12 points on 4-for-20 shooting. But as Fred VanVleet mentioned on J.J. Redick’s podcast, there’s numerous ways for a player to impact winning. The two combined for 17 of the team’s 50 boards, and 12-of-20 assists. Banton had a plus/minus of five, and Harper had 10, respectively.
As an aside, watching opposing guard Keifer Sykes exemplified this truism. He had only four points on 1-for-12 shooting (0-for-8 from downtown), but had 11 dimes, many of which were elite passes off quick dribble moves.
The NBA All-Star Game has announced the Next Up game, and you can vote here. And Reggie Perry should be headed to Salt Lake City. He scored a game-high 34 points on 10-for-15 shooting, and hit four key free throws in the final 30 seconds to maintain the 905 lead. He hit two to push the lead to 8. When Kyler Edwards hit the step back three to inch within five, Perry hit both to give them a seven-point buffer. Perry earned 14 of his 34 points at the charity stripe.
Perry scored 20 points off field goals in a myriad of ways. He showed some point forward skills, left Cacok in the dust off a show-and-go move, finished off a spin cycle, drove from the top of the free throw circle, and exploited a mismatch in the post.
Perry sat off most of the third quarter, so scoring 34 in 30 minutes was really impressive.
Gabe Brown was back in his home state of Michigan, and dropped 20 points, shooting 4-for-8 behind the arc. He hit back-to-back threes at the end of the third quarter to give the 905 a much-needed seven and ten-point lead.
Ryan Hawkins (11 points, 3-for-6 from three) and Darryl Morsell (12 points on 5-for-9 shooting) provided double-digit scoring off the bench. Hawkins connected on a right corner 3, in the first quarter, after the ball had had swung all the way around from the opposite corner, with less than 10 seconds on the shot clock. Finishing plays like these create a virtuous cycle for the 905 offense; everybody eats and everybody’s happy.
Omar Epps had his debut game, and had seven points and five boards in about 11 minutes of play. He also nailed a three ball off a pick-and-pop to give the 905 a 10-point lead in the fourth.