Fan Duel Toronto Raptors

, , ,

Fantastic Freeman-Liberty performance not enough as Raptors 905 lose on school day to Grand Rapids Gold

905 lost their third game in their last four dropping to a 4-8 record.

It’s a story as old as time, “it was a tale of two halves” in the 905’s 115-109 loss to the Gold.

The first half was sloppy, untidy, and disorganized from both the 905 and the Gold. Both teams shot under 42 percent from the field, under 25 percent from distance, and combined for 25 turnovers.

The 905 led for all of the first half except for the last minute, where Grand Rapids would cap a 20-6 run to end the half and take their first lead.

The second half was a much prettier brand of basketball with both teams combining for 131 points. They were all tied up heading into the fourth quarter and ultimately put on a show for the 4,000 or so screaming kids who got to miss school for the day and watch some mid-day hoops.

“They did a good job playing with a ton of pace, setting screens and slipping screens,” Raptors 905 head coach Eric Khoury said.

“It was a really loud environment, so it was tough to communicate. I thought they played off of that really well, caused a lot of confusion.”

Despite the loss, there was one player in particular who had a phenomenal performance.

School Day Star

Javon Freeman-Liberty looked like he was going to have a below-average game at the end of the first half, only shooting the ball five times and finishing with three points.

But that would not be the case.

Freeman-Liberty exploded for 34 points in the second half to finish with 37 buckets, five assists, and four rebounds, with a block to put the cherry on top. The 24-year-old shot 53.8 percent from behind the arc, and 57.6 percent from the field, while tying a career-high with seven 3-pointers made.

“The first half, it wasn’t really my half,” Freeman-Liberty said.

“My shooting coaches and my trainers always tell me to keep shooting and don’t worry about the misses. So that’s what I did. I feel like when somebody is stepping up on me, I feel like I’m quick enough to get around them, and when they are sagging, I feel like I can knock the three down. I’ve been working on that my whole life.”

Per usual, the DePaul product knifed to the paint with ease using his quickness and craftiness and hit big shots during his third 30-plus point game.

Also, you would have thought that the freezing rain outside of the Paramount Fine Foods Centre made its way onto the court the way Freeman-Liberty had this defender slipping and sliding.

If you want to learn more about Javon Freeman-Liberty, I wrote a feature on him diving into his game and on his prospects of one day being in the NBA full-time.

Defence is Improved

Since the reset, the 905’s defence has been better. That is due to a combination of players getting healthy and the team generally being more connected and executing on that end of the floor. The junior Raptors are holding teams to 112.9 points post-reset, down from 116.2 points pre-rest. If you take out two games that got out of hand and ended in blowouts, that number drops down to 107 points allowed per game. Tonight’s contest was only the third time (including those two blowouts) post-reset the 905 have allowed a team to score more then 110 points.

“We’re just trying to be a little bit more solid, I thought we started the game really good defensively,” said Khoury.

“They only had 36 points with about a couple of minutes left in the first half. Overall, the defence apart from the miscommunications down the stretch was solid today. Obviously, it could have been better. They did a heck of a job, scored 32 points from the free throw line, 20 of 21, so they did a good job knocking down their free throws.”

The 905 are now 1-1 amid a six-game home-stand. Mississauga’s team sits second-to-last in the eastern conference and will try to get their revenge against the eastern-conference-leading Grand Rapids Gold on Saturday in a rematch.