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Dial 905: Winter Showcase begins, as Raptors drop two

With Chris Boucher in the big city, the 905 dropped a pair despite some solid performances.

NBA Preseason: Melbourne United at Toronto Raptors Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

With two-way player rules and a dedicated G League team, there’s no question the primary purpose of the Raptors 905 is to prime a small batch of players with competitive basketball before joining the NBA squad. Still, the difference in production between the top guys on the 905 and the others has been more pronounced than on other teams.

Chris Boucher and Jordan Loyd have been stat line buddies all season. They’ve both shared multiple 30-point games, several coming in the same game. When they’ve been sat, it’s typically been together, and the centre-shooting guard combo have been wrecking opposing teams.

This week, though, the 905 got an extended look at a Loyd-run team. With Jonas Valanciunas’ thumb injury, Chris Boucher was called up as the first big off the bench for the Raptors. This left Loyd and a supporting cast to handle a lighter week, which included four full days of rest between games and the opening of the G League Winter Showcase in Las Vegas.

Let’s dial it up and talk about what went down.

Friday, December 14 at Grand Rapids Drive

Final:
Raptors 105
Drive 110

The Raptors had a seven-game win streak propel them to the top of the Eastern Conference standings last week, but after a loss to Oklahoma City, the engine continued to sputter on the road against Grand Rapids.

It was a strong first half for the Drive, as they jumped out to a 64-47 halftime lead thanks to the three-way attack of Zach Lofton, Keenan Evans, and Kenneth Smith, with the former two shooting better than 50% in the game.

For the 905, Jordan Loyd certainly had one eye-popping stat, and it’s not one you want to see. The two-way guard went 0-for-13 (!!) from deep, and 7-for-23 overall, to get his 19 points. While the six rebounds, four assists, and two steals were welcome, Loyd’s 13 misses sunk the 905’s three-point percentage as a team to 31%. This, despite one of Kyle Collinsworth’s best games of the season, as he had 20 points, ten rebounds, and five steals in an uncharacteristic stat-stuffer of a game.

Rodney Pryor and Christian Watford also combined for 32 points off the bench for the 905 in the loss, which did eventually come down to the wire (kinda) after a 35-24 fourth quarter for the road team.

Wednesday, December 19 vs. Memphis Hustle (Las Vegas, NV)

Final:
Hustle 135
Raptors 123

Vegas, baby. Under the velvety curtains of the MGM Resorts basketball court, the 905 played their only game of the season against the Western Conference’s Memphis Hustle on Friday.

With plenty of NBA scouts on display, it was the Hustle who had more of a team attack, as seven players scored in double-digits. Leading the way was shooting guard Tyler Harvey, who shot 10-for-16 in 35 minutes to score 28 points.

For the 905, Jordan Loyd bounced back from his tough shooting night to bury 30, adding four rebounds, four assists, and two steals. While 8-for-18 wasn’t the best line from the field, Loyd propped it up with a perfect 12-for-12 night from the free throw line.

Again, the Raptors had to play from behind in this game, as Memphis jumped out to a frighteningly similar first half to Grand Rapids — scoring 71 points before halftime. While the 905 attempted to crawl back in the second half thanks to the two-way play of Deng Adel — he finished with 20 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and three blocks — they were never able to recover from their slow start, ultimately getting as close as five points before losing.

While there were promising signs this week, ultimately the 905 are now 0-4 without Chris Boucher in the lineup, as an already thin frontcourt looks noticeably outmatched without their two-way player on the floor. That said, they’ll have one more opportunity to impress on the Vegas Strip, as they take on Texas on Friday at 8 p.m.