Justise Winslow’s 31-point performance helped the Raptors 905 (5-9) mount a late comeback, but ultimately wasn’t enough, as they fell 111-103 to the Maine Celtics (7-7) on Tuesday night.
The 27-year-old’s scoring outburst set a new professional career high, while also grabbing 11 rebounds for a double-double.
On a night when it felt like no one else for the 905 could get anything going offensively, Winslow gave it everything he had.
The team found themselves down double-digits in the second quarter following a 17-7 run by the Celtics and if weren’t for the heroics of the vet, they would’ve stayed down by just as much at halftime.
Winslow went on a personal 8-0 in the final two minutes of the half and made it a four-point game at the break.
“He played his butt off,” 905 head coach Eric Khoury said about Winslow post-game. “He was attacking the paint, he was going with force, he was physical on defense.”
It seemed like the herculean effort was going to be enough to keep the 905 in for the second half but the team’s struggles on the glass let Maine to open things back up.
The 905 allowed seven offensive rebounds in the third quarter alone, and were a minus-nine on the offensive glass and minus-14 on total rebounds. To no surprise, they gave up 20 second-chance points as a result and went into the fourth quarter down 81-68.
It also didn’t help that after not hitting more than a single three in the first quarter, Maine started drilling their shots at a near 50 per cent clip the rest of the way, hitting nine triples between the second and third frames.
It was a good thing Winslow had more left in the tank for the fourth quarter as he scored 10 points in the final frame to make things interesting. He was simply a man on a mission, attacking downhill and staring down the Celtics bench after practically every basket.
His play was eventually rewarded by someone else on the team finally seizing the moment with him. Kobi Simmons, who scored 15 points on the night, splashed three consecutive triples to make it 104-102 with a minute to go.
Unfortunately for the Mississauga faithful, the 905 couldn’t execute beyond that point as they didn’t make a single basket in the final minute of the contest. Their only point in the final 60 seconds came off a technical free throw.
“It was a tough game,” Winslow said. “We made a lot of tough shots … I think we can do a better job next game, but just as a team, we fought to the very end.”
The 905 will have little time to dwell on the loss as they take on the Celtics again on Wednesday for the second of a back-to-back, and their fifth of six straight home games.
If it’s any consolation for a tough loss on Tuesday, the 905 will be sporting “Lunar New Year” edition jerseys on Wednesday night, and they look pretty sweet in my opinion.
The uniform has multiple nods to Raptors eras of the past, such as the font style and illustration taking inspiration from previous jersey designs.