Despite Kobi Simmons’ 21-point performance the Raptors 905 (5-11) fell to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (12-3) 108-105 this past Saturday.
Simmons looked like he couldn’t miss out there hitting three of his eight three-pointers, shooting 41 percent from the field, and picking up six assists in the process.
Despite the foul trouble Guard Javon Freeman-Liberty came up big for the 905 with 15 points, hitting two of his three-pointers and grabbing seven rebounds. Center Mouhamadou Gueye also came to play with a double-double, with 10 points and 10 rebounds, with three blocks.
The Vipers had two big-time players show up to help secure the win. Center Ray Spalding showed out with 20 points, 10 rebounds, and six blocks while also 66 percent from the field. Guard Jalen Lecque also came up big for the team with 18 points, seven assists and the game-winning three.
The 905 had their work cut out for them coming into this game as the Vipers are the first seed in the Western Conference and had only lost three games this season so far.
The first quarter was a close-fought battle between both teams. Simmons and Freeman-Liberty set the tone early on by being aggressive and taking smart shots. However, the Vipers’ defence was stifling forcing turnovers for the 905, playing all the passing lanes, rotating early, and forcing the 905 to shot-clock violations. The Vipers also targeted the 905 in the paint, constantly attacking, grabbing the offensive rebound and getting easy scoring chances.
The 905 stepped it up in the second quarter. Gueye provided great paint defence and helped stop the Vipers’ constant attacks in the paint. He was contesting shots and hustling for the boards. The 905 also saw more success on the offensive end this quarter as well, repeatedly attacking the basket, drawing fouls or converting layups.
The Vipers kept the game close, but it was the big threes from Guard Kira Lewis Jr and Simmons that would keep them in front. The 905 would lead the Vipers 56-53 at the half.
The third quarter was a back-and-forth affair for both teams. Both hitting timely shots and keeping the game within reach. However, the Vipers’ stifling defence would continue forcing the 905 to turn over the ball a few times, allowing them to keep the game close.
The 905 would keep up the great defense leading to a lot of transition offense opportunities. Including one sequence where Freeman-Liberty would throw down an incredible poster.
The game came down to the wire in the fourth. Much like the third quarter, both teams were hitting shots from beyond the arc when needed. The 905 would continue to attack the paint for the score or kick it out to the open man for the three.
It all came down to the final minutes when Lewis Jr. hit a three-point shot to tie the game for the 905, 105-105 with 24 seconds left. However, the 905 didn’t get the ending they were looking for as Lecque would hit an ice-cold three-pointer to take the lead for the Vipers, and despite their best efforts, the 905 would lose this battle.
905 coach Eric Khoury felt like the team should’ve won the game but let it slip from them.
“We should’ve won that game, without question,” Khoury said. “We turned the ball over way too many times against a team that all they try to do is turn you over and make you uncomfortable and we fed right into it.”
Even though the loss wasn’t the result the 905 wanted, they kept it competitive against the best team in the west. Kobi Simmons talked about what this did for the team’s confidence in the long run.
“We got some positives out of the game for sure,” Simmons said. “We feel like we can compete with any team in this league, so coming in every night, some nights we get bad nights, but tonight was a night we felt like this was a game we can grab.”
Up Next for the 905
The 905 will travel to play the Long Island Nets this Monday at 1:00 PM where they look to get back into the win column.