Fan Duel Toronto Raptors

First quarter deficit too much for the 905 to overcome

Fans at Paramount Centre witnessed a fake comeback. 905 won by six points through the last three quarters, but early mistakes came to bite them.

Justise Winslow hit a left corner three to make it a nine-point game. Stephen Thompson tried to answer with a layup, but his fingeroll rolled out. 905 gained possession, and Markquis Nowell used Mo G’s screen to side step into a mid-range jumper, kissing it off the glass beautifully. Then, Wisconsin made a boneheaded backcourt turnover, Nowell stole the ball and dished it to Kobi Simmons to inch within five points with 2:40 left.

The 905 had been playing catch-up since mid-way through the first quarter, and Paramount Centre was buzzing with 3,695 fans screaming “De-fence! De-fence!” 

A comeback seemed very possible until it wasn’t. Wisconsin re-asserted themselves and walked away with a 104-94 win.

All three lead changes happened within the first 2 minutes and 12 seconds of the game. The 905 got within six points in the second quarter, but Wisconsin pushed it back up to 10 at halftime. The 905 inched within seven points in the third quarter. 

To casual fans, first quarters may seem irrelevant, but yesterday was a classic “every possession matters” game. Late-game heroics couldn’t save the 905 because the 16-point first quarter deficit simply backfired – the 905 won the second quarter by six points, third quarter by two, and lost the fourth quarter by only two.

During Wisconsin’s 18-6 run to end the first quarter, Eric Khoury’s reaction summed up their state – down 14 points, he threw his hands in the air after Darryl Morsell passed the ball out of bounds. It was a breaking point after a disorganized offense and shots weren’t falling (1-for-9 3FG). Wisconsin’s bigs – Wenyen Gabriel and Marques Bolden – had 20 out of the team’s 35 points. Gabriel finished the game with 28 points and Bolden with 14, respectively.

At the end of the game, the 905 were -5 in turnovers, +12 in points in the paint, +3 in second chance points, and +12 in fast break points. Six 905ers (five starters plus Morsell) scored in double digits, and Justise Winslow (20 points) and Kobi Simmons (10 points) scored at key points in the second and fourth quarter to keep the 905 within reach.

Simmons controlled the game through his dribble and had the biggest dunk of the game.

Nowell had 14 points and 9 assists, and he was instrumental in the 905 inching within five points late in the game. But his hero-ball shot selection is still questionable. In an attempt to make it a four-point game, his triple with 2:07 left in the game wasn’t advisable – he also took a bad shot (or two) earlier in the game. Having said this, I realize taking bad shots is required for players to develop better shot selection – the good ol’ ‘You gotta make mistakes before you can succeed’ mantra.

The 905 look to make it .500 in their next road game against the College Park Skyhawks, Atlanta’s G League affiliate, on Thursday, January 4th at 7 pm in the New Year.