905 fall to the Magic 124-102

The 905 came out flat against the Lakeland Magic in a critical game in a very tight playoff race. The 905 now find themselves in 10th place with only four games left to play.

The Raptors 905 came into this game desperately needing a win to hold onto the 6th spot in the G-League’s Eastern Division and the final playoff position. With the recent call-ups of Christian Koloko and Dalano Banton to the parent team and both David Johnson and Ron Harper Junior not dressing for the game: Coach Jack Khoury’s team needed all hands on the depleted deck to be at their best if they were going to somehow take this win. 

Considering the circumstances, the 905ers came out flat and unfocused to start the game. The early 12 pm start may have been a factor but the importance of the game and the tightness of the play-off race should have driven the team to be more desperate and hungry.

Unfortunately, the lack of urgency in the team’s performance would be its undoing. 

The first half was an ugly affair. A sloppy opening quarter saw the 905ers finish the first with a 27-24 lead. Both teams looked a little out of sorts on offence which led to the teams combining for 12 total turnovers. After playing some zone in the 1st, coach Khoury challenged his team to turn up the defence and play straight-up man-to-man with no switching. But the players failed to pick up the gauntlet

The Mississauga team fell apart in the second quarter. The inability of the Raptors 905 to take care of the ball would lead to six turn-overs by the baby Dinos to start the second. The Magic on the other hand would take advantage of some poor defensive communication and sloppy defensive rebounding and go on a 17-2 run. Lakeland’s bench depth took over the second and the Raptors found themselves trailing at the half. The lack of effort on the boards was disappointing.

Joe Weiskamp commented on the fact that Lakeland was “speeding them up, leading to turn-overs and fast break points”.

The defensive struggles continued in the second half. Lakeland scored more than 30 points in both the third and fourth quarters. While the 905 managed to keep up with the Magic in terms of points, in the third, they could never find a way to get on a run and close the gap.

Zavier Simpson put his stamp on the game for the Magic with his ability to penetrate into the paint and make kick-outs to the perimeter for wide-open threes. He would end up with 24 points on nine of 16 shooting and 11 assists.

Jeff Dowtin was his steady, self. His game management and ability to control the game in the half-court was, as always, superb. He was the focus of the Magic’s defence and was constantly being blitzed and forced to move the ball to his teammates.

Darryl Morsell had a career-high for the 905 with 21 points on an efficient nine of 16 shooting.

Coach Khoury was visibly disappointed by the result of the game. When asked what he liked about the 905’s performance he responded with a disgruntled shrug and replied “not too much”.  He pointed to the lack of “defensive stops” and the Raptors “taking and missing too many quick threes, leading to easy transition buckets” as the key factors in the game.

The heartbreaking loss has put the 905 in a precarious position in terms of the playoff race.

According to coach Khoury, the team “lost any margin for error” and that if they are going to make the playoffs they would have to “play perfect basketball from here”.

With the loss, the team falls to the tenth spot in an extremely tight playoff race. The team sits one game behind the fourth-place Magic with only four games left.

The 905 and the Magic complete the final game of the home-and-home series on Saturday at two pm.