The Raptors 905 lost 130-112 to the Maine Celtics on Sunday despite the additions of Markquis Nowell, who returned from injury, and the newly acquired Jontay Porter.
Nowell made his return after missing the 905’s last seven games with a rib injury and the point guard did show a bit of rust scoring the ball. He went 5-15 shooting from the field for 15 points, although he did splash four triples. His ability to find open teammates remained as sharp as always as Nowell racked up eight assists on the day.
In his debut with the 905, Porter (brother of Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr) did a bit of everything. He scored 13 points, going 3-3 from beyond the arch, and added eight rebounds, five assists, three steals, and three blocks. The 6’10 big was signed by the Toronto Raptors on a two-way deal earlier this week after they waived Ron Harper Jr following his need for season-ending surgery.
Meanwhile, Gradey Dick had a relatively quiet outing with 14 points, two assists, and a steal on 5-11 shooting. Jaysean Paige and Kevin Obanor were the 905’s leading scorers on the night, putting up 24 and 20 respectively.
The 905 did their best to keep pace with the Celtics who were feeling it basically the entire game. Maine finished the contest shooting 53.6 per cent from the field and 52.8 per cent from three, making a season-best 19 triples along the way.
Considering the high-powered offence the 905 were facing, a 65-54 deficit at halftime wasn’t as bad as some would’ve expected. The squad did its best to match Maine’s scoring output. Dick hit two triples in the frame and looked like he was starting to heat up.
Unfortunately, things slipped away for the 905 rather quickly coming out of the break. The Celtics caught fire and went 7-10 from three-point land and outscored the 905 35-20 in the third quarter.
Maine’s lead grew to as many as 29 points throughout the rest of the game, despite the 905 showing some fight and scoring 38 points in the fourth.
The deficit was too large to overcome in the end. After beating the Celtics (7-5) for their first (and only) win of the season less than two weeks ago, the 905 (1-11) weren’t able to catch lightning in a bottle for a second time as the loss made it three in a row.
The Celtics were led by DJ Steward’s (member of the CEBL’s Vancouver Bandits in 2023) 24 points and JD Davison’s 23-point, 12-assist double-double. However, there was plenty offence to go around for Maine as they had seven different players crack double-digit points.
One step forward, one step back
If two games ago when Dick scored 23 felt like he had started to figure things out, this game felt like the opposite. Granted, it was an adjustment having a new starting centre and playing basically his first game with a real point guard since joining the 905.
Ironically, one would think that finally having a real distributor would help Dick’s production. At least one he seemingly has chemistry with, in Nowell, as the two were drafted together and spent summer league playing on the same squad.
Instead, it felt like Dick wasn’t sure of himself with new guys around and was second-guessing decisions. 5-11 shooting isn’t bad efficiency (although 2-6 from distance isn’t great), but four players on the team taking as many or more shots as Dick isn’t what most expect.
The same Dick who a few weeks ago said “I’ll go take the next 10 shots, I don’t really care. Because I know I’m a shooter.”
Over the last two games, Paige and Obanor have taken 45 and 34 shots each, compared to Dick’s 25. By no means is that a slight towards two guys who are also obviously trying to build their own careers in basketball. Rather it’s a way of highlighting that Dick needs to look for his offence more and show the same level of assertiveness as guys like Paige and Obanor.
Most fans probably want to see Dick take the next 10 shots and then some. So to see him not is a little disappointing and feels like a step in the opposite direction. He needs to continue finding ways to be a positive player even when the shot isn’t falling, but he was sent to the G League specifically to get his jumper right.
In saying all that, the overall message is quite simple. Let it fly young man.
The 905 head back to Mississauga now to host the Delaware Blue Coats in back-to-back home contests on Tuesday and Thursday.