905 unable to hold on against Skyhawks, lose fourth game in a row

A hot shooting start wasn't enough as the 905 crumbled late, falling to 1-4 on the season.

Raptors 905 (1-4) led for over three quarters but were unable to hold on down the stretch as they lost 105-101 to the College Park Skyhawks (4-1) on Saturday.

On a positive note, all five starters managed to hit double-figure scoring, led by Javon Freeman-Liberty who tallied 22 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists. However, Freeman-Liberty didn’t have the most efficient night as he shot 7-for-20 from the field and 2-for-8 from deep while committing five turnovers (four in the fourth).

Justice Winslow also notched an impressive double-double with 17 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Meanwhile, rookie Gradey Dick put up 15 points and five rebounds on 5-of-16 shooting from the field and 2-of-10 from deep.

On the other side, the Skyhawks were led by Trey McGowens (who played two games for the 905 earlier in the season) and his 24 points and four triples off the bench. Chris Silva also had a strong outing as he put up 23 points and nine rebounds.

Kobe Bufkin had a quieter night this time after putting up 27 points, six rebounds, and six assists in their win against the 905 on Thursday. The 15th overall pick finished with just six points on 2-of-9 shooting from the field, although he did only play 21 minutes before leaving the game due to a back injury.

For what felt like the first time all season, the 905 were the healthier team going into a game. They were missing four players which included two-way Jontay Porter who’s currently with the NBA Raptors, however, that wasn’t as bad as the eight inactive players College Park had to deal with.

The 905 looked strong in the early goings as they shot lights out through the first quarter against the shorthanded Skyhawks. Everything was clicking as they began the game 5-for-7 from downtown with Markquis Nowell leading the way by going 3-for-3 himself.


Unfortunately for 905 fans, the hot shooting didn’t translate the rest of the way as the team went 10-for-38 from beyond the arc after that. However, they were still able to maintain a lead thanks to their clean play.

The 905 committed 23 turnovers in their previous loss to College Park, allowing 40 points off those miscues, but through three quarters in this game, they had only turned the ball over 12 times.

That helped the 905 hold on to a 80-76 lead after three quarters.

Then the fourth quarter happened. Things unravelled in the final frame as the 905 gave the ball away seven times en route to their fourth straight loss.

It didn’t help that the team also lost most of its defensive discipline as they committed 12 fouls through the final 12 minutes. The 905 finished with 31 fouls to the Skyhawks 21. Seven of the nine players to step onto the court for the team had three or more fouls by the end of the night.

A copious amount of free throws given up with a large helping of live ball turnovers seems like the perfect recipe for a blown lead and that’s exactly how it went down.

Raise the floor

Gradey Dick continues to struggle shooting the ball from distance. His woes from that standpoint have been chronicled extensively, so repeating the same thoughts about patience surrounding his jumper seems unnecessary.

While he continues to get into a rhythm shooting the ball, the rookie needs to raise the floor of his game. Forget about the ceiling, that’s about five floors up and nowhere close to where anyone should be looking right now.

His shooting eventually returning to normal is what’ll probably keep him on the floor most nights. But before staying on the court he needs to figure out how to get put into a game.

He’ll do that by raising the floor of his abilities.

Dick started this game rather well. He had eight points, two rebounds, and a fantastic block in transition all within the first eight minutes of the game.

All that momentum came to a screeching halt once he picked up his second foul with four minutes left in the quarter and had to sit. It didn’t feel like a coincidence that without him on the floor the once 27-18 lead evaporated.

When he subbed back into the game midway through the second quarter, he immediately made a positive play. The 905 were holding onto a two-point lead but their offence had stagnated and were no longer pushing the pace. Dick, after grabbing a rebound, astutely decided to raise the tempo and ran the ball up the floor before throwing it to Kevin Obanor in the corner who splashed a three.

What did the rookie do a couple plays later? He jumps very late to contest a layup on the break and picks up his third foul which sends him right back to the bench. He played just three minutes in the second quarter because of that. Easily avoidable.

After scoring eight points in eight minutes to start the game, Dick put up seven points through the 24 minutes he was on the floor after that. If he wants to play at the next level consistently he needs to realize that playing hard and playing reckless are different, no matter how thing the differentiating line may seem.

Picking up avoidable fouls and being forced to sit when your team needs you on the floor is reckless. Running past defenders just about every time you close out as they pump fake and then take an open three, is playing reckless.

The foundation of his game is where he needs to focus. There’s a reason why before Raptors games he’s not out there with coaches working on shooting drills and is instead practicing his defensive closeouts.

It’s the same reason why Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic recently said “He is the future of this organization, but he needs to check a couple of points before we really unleash him on the court.”

Raising the floor is step one. Frankly, it’s the main step for Dick to get into Rajakovic’s NBA rotation on a consistent basis.

Up next

The 905 return home to host the Texas Legends on Tuesday for the first leg of a back-to-back stint between the two squads.