Raptors905 Post-Game

Raptors 905 Crush Charge Behind Stellar Third Quarter

McKinnie yakked on Zizic’s head with 9 seconds left. Also, the 905 won.

Photo credit: Christian Bonin / TSGphoto.com

Photo credit: Christian Bonin / TSGphoto.com

Raptors 905 113, Canton Charge 97 | Box Score
Assignees: Bruno Caboclo, Alfonzo McKinnie (905), Ante Zizic (Charge)
Two-ways: Lorenzo Brown, Malcolm Miller (905), John Holland, London Perrantes (Charge)

Full disclosure: there was no stream in the first half for this one, so I’m working with less info than usual, here. That being said, here’s a totally normal, not-at-all-embellished writeup about the 905’s dominant victory, which domination happened to occur almost entirely when the stream came back up for the second half.

After missing the 905’s last game with the Raptors and playing poorly in the game before, Alfonzo McKinnie made his presence felt in a good way in the early going. He hit multiple midrange jumpers early to pace the 905 offence. McKinnie would be heard from again before the night was through. Unfortunately, the Charge were working in multiples of 3, with Marcus Thornton and then London Perrantes hitting early triples to give the Charge an 8-4 lead early.

Ante Zizic dominated for the Charge. He amassed 11 points and 5 rebounds in just the first quarter as no 905 defender could deal with his bulk. Zizic feasted on offensive rebounds and free throws, which was the very recipe that led the 905 to a comfortable win last outing against the Erie Bayhawks. After a few free throws of their own, courtesy of Shevon Thompson and Malcolm Miller, the 905 caught fire from behind the arc. Triples from Davion Berry and Malcolm Miller (x2) gave the 905 the 31-27 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The 905 honoured Black History Month at the quarter break by showing a tribute to Wayne Embry. Embry is a former player who became the first ever African-American general manager in NBA history, and he has served as a senior advisor to the Toronto Raptors for years. The stadium reportedly gave Smith an impressive ovation.

With Lorenzo Brown on the bench to start the second quarter, the Charge were able to re-take the lead quickly behind London Perrantes, who scored on a driving and-1, and then hit a 3, to go up 35-33. At the other end, Kaza Keane his recent struggles. He missed a 3 (he hasn’t yet made one in 2018) and then turned the ball over a few possessions later to give the Charge an easy layup. In general, the 905’s bench struggles to create offence without Lorenzo Brown, and this remained true. By the time Brown replaced Keane with just under 8 minutes remaining, the 905 were stuck 6, having only scored 4 points in the quarter.

Brown, however, failed to stem the tide. Missed jumpshots and turnovers killed the 905, who continued to be unable to find the scoreboard. Their energy waned. Halfway through the quarter, the Charge were on an 20-4 run. Brown decided to take control of his team’s fate following a timeout, as he hit a floater and then a triple for the home side. As Meeks picked up his third foul before half (and Shevon Thompson was already benched with 3 fouls of his own), Coach Stackhouse turned to the raw but promising 7-footer Andre Washington for his first meaningful minutes in a while. Washington even responded well (at first)! He scored on a putback dunk off an Aaron Best miss to cut the Charge lead to 5.

Ante Zizic then got back to his dominating ways . Washington turned the ball over as Zizic scored on a seemingly endless parade of free throws. Brown’s hot stroke from behind the arc kept the 905 breathing, as he hit another deep bomb, his third of the half. Then Kendrick Perkins – yes, that Kendrick Perkins – hit an and-1 to take half 57-53 for the bad guys.

The half was a bizarre one for the 905. They shot much better than they are accustomed to (9/23 from deep), but the defence struggled. Part of that (much of that) was due to the 905’s dual-headed center monster, Kennedy Meeks and Shevon Thompson, sharing 6 fouls between them. Andre Washington has struggled in his minutes for the 905 season-long, and tonight was no exception.

The stream finally came through to begin the second half, and the broadcast bemoaned the 905’s energy level. Correspondingly, Zizic continued to be nearly impossible to handle, as he scored on a putback in transition and then continued his march to the line after a McKinnie foul (his 3rd). McKinnie responded by finding his second dunk of the half, as he cut to the net during a Best drive. This seemed to spark the 905, who ratcheted up the defensive intensity and found another easy bucket in transition for McKinnie.

McKinnie found himself yet another dunk on a 4-1 break off a steal, and then Kennedy Meeks bulldozed his way to a layup after another steal. With their defence finally finding a spine, the 905 led 68-65 midway through the third. Coming out of a timeout, the 905 picked up full court; they were finally engaged and energized.

Brown took over. He hit an and-1 layup in the halfcourt and then recorded another highlight only a moment later on an awesome hit-ahead bounce pass to an open Fuquan Edwin in transition. He stole the ball a possession later, but turned it over looking for Meeks. He passed to Edwin again for a triple on the next possession to push the 905 lead to 5, and then he euro-stepped in transition for a layup. Watching Lorenzo Brown dominate is no surprise, but it’s good to see after his failure to make a mark against the Bayhawks last game out.

A Charge shotclock violation was followed by a wide-open Davion Berry corner 3 (created from Meeks in the post), and then Meeks bookended a possession with a blocked shot on one end and then a tip-in in transition. The massacre was in full-frenzy, with the 905 stretching their lead to 87-76 heading into the fourth quarter. The always-fantastic Meghan McPeak used the time to talk about the backpack kid’s cross-arm dance, which was indicative of how quickly the game turned into a blowout.

The bench rotation, which Stackhouse usually rolls out to start the second and fourth quarters, struggled on defence. They gave up consecutive layups after offensive rebounds and then consecutive triples. If it weren’t for Davion Berry’s shot-making of his own (following his own triple with a strong, driving and-1 through the lane) for the 905, the lead might have been in jeopardy.

With the starters back in the game, it would prove to be Bruno Caboclo would would seal the victory. He nailed a clutch triple on a difficult above-the-break stepback 3. Then he hit a contested corner 3 to close the door on the Charge with under 3 minutes to go. He hit another triple on a BLOB play just for fun. Then this happened at the end of the game:

https://twitter.com/Raptors905/status/960700000371167232

The story tonight was that the 905 only needed a few minutes of energy to win. Shevon Thompson and Kennedy Meeks struggled to play in the first half because of foul trouble, and the team correspondingly struggled to play well. The 905 had 7 players in double digits. If you’re looking for downsides, the bench struggled again in this game, as Kaza Keane (-14), Davion Berry (-10), and Shevon Thompson (-8) were greatly outscored during their time on the court. But as long as Lorenzo Brown is in the game, the 905 are practically unbeatable; he finished with an unfathomable plus/minus of +30.

Notes

  • Assignment notes
    • Bruno Caboclo was quiet all night until the fourth quarter, when he hit 3 consecutive triples to laugh in the face of a Charge comeback.
    • Alfonzo McKinnie played one of the best games I’ve seen from him. He jumped through the roof on several rebounds, and he had more dunks than I’ve ever seen from him. In the beginning of the season, his finishing near the rim was tentative, and he was blocked quite frequently. Tonight, he showed off the energy and bounce that made him an all-star with Windy City last year, and his offence was sorely needed for the 905 tonight. He even recorded a putback crush on Ante Zizic with only 9 seconds left in the game. It was a highlight Vince Carter would have been proud of. He finished with a team-high 19 points on only 12 shots, and he recorded 10 rebounds for good measure.
  • Other 905 player notes
    • Lorenzo Brown had his regular flashes of dominance to which 905 fans are accustomed. At his best, he creates easy shots in the halfcourt for teammates, scores when the clock dwindles low, and runs in transition to push his foot on opponents’ throats. He didn’t dominate on every possession, but he didn’t need to. His third quarter play was as strong as anything I’ve seen from him, and the team really only seemed to care for stretches of a few minutes in a row. That proved to be enough. His 18p-13a almost understated his importance in the game, as he finished +30 in his 35 minutes. That means the 905 were outscored by 14 in his 13 minutes on the bench; they need to find ways to stay afloat when Brown sits.
    • Shevon Thompson and Kennedy Meeks matched up against an NBA-caliber (and -sized) center tonight in Ante Zizic, and they struggled for much of the game. They shared 6 fouls in the first half, and the team struggled without their usual offensive rebounding and stellar defence. Both Thompson and Meeks could well be NBA guys within the next few years, but they need to offer more consistent records against the best G-League centers. I’m confident they will dominate the next chance they get.
    • Malcolm Miller is all the way back from ankle surgery. He is the team’s second-best scorer (behind Lorenzo Brown), and his jumpshooting provides vital oxygen for a bench lineup that can struggle without Brown. He has a more polished offensive game than Alfonzo McKinnie, even if he doesn’t provide the athletic highlights. When both man the wing spots for the 905, the team truly hums. Tonight he scored 17 points on 11 shots, and the 905 want him shooting even more than that.
  • Charge notes: 
    • Good lord Ante Zizic was a handful. He finished with 22 points on 11 free throws, and his ability to dominate any center the 905 threw his way was the only thing that kept this game from being a rout early.
    • London Perrantes had 6p-8a, and I think he’s the best point guard option for the Cavaliers.
  • The 905 are on the road twice before returning home to play against the Maine Red Claws on February 12th. A friendly reminder that promo code “REPUBLIC905” will get you a discount at this link all season long.

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