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Dial 905: Malcolm Miller’s return caps an up-week

After an extended losing streak, the 905 turned it around this week and got a welcome return at the end of it.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Orlando Magic Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

After Deng Adel’s signing in Cleveland last week, the composition of the Raptors 905 has changed yet again. Derek Cooke Jr. has joined the team and has quickly gotten into Jama Mahlalela’s rotation. Late this week, the 905 also got the welcome return of swingman Malcolm Miller — who played serious minutes with the Raptors last season, including a few starts.

How did it all blend together on the court? Let’s look back at a busy 3-1 week for the 905.

Thursday, January 17 at Greensboro Swarm

Raptors 119
Swarm 117

Suffering through a five-game losing streak marred by slow starts, the 905 finally put together a solid first half and eked out a road win against Greensboro last Thursday.

Malachi Richardson led the way with 25 points, making 3-of-8 from downtown, as the 905 and Swarm tied 32-32 after one quarter and Greensboro made it a six-point lead at the half. Not ideal, but certainly not the double-digit differences we have been seeing from the 905.

In solid support of Richardson were two other 20-point scorers in Jordan Loyd (22 points, seven assists, six rebounds) and Kyle Collinsworth (20 points, nine rebounds, nine assists, three steals).

With the game tight late, it was Richardson who put the 905 ahead for good with under a minute left, making a layup with 42 seconds left. Three turnovers from the Swarm ensued, which gave the game its final.

Saturday, January 19 vs. Greensboro Swarm

Swarm 103
Raptors 109

What better to follow a road win over the Swarm than a home win over the Swarm? The Raptors swept the home-and-home series over Greensboro, this time with their stud centre Chris Boucher in tow.

Boucher led the way in this one, shooting 10-for-21 to finish with 27 points, seven rebounds, four steals, and five blocks. Jordan Loyd had 22 points, seven assists, and six rebounds in support, while Malachi Richardson made three triples on his way to 18 points.

Not to be forgotten, either, was newcomer point guard Jordan Howard. A G League draft pick by the Warriors, who’s made his way through Texas to get to Mississauga, had 17 points and started 4-for-4. He made 3-of-5 from distance, showing that the new-look 905 have some depth at the point position.

The score in this one was closer than should be believed. The 905 had a big lead late and made every attempt to cough it up, fouling on a three and giving up another to give the game its final score. Once again, the start was solid enough to withstand it: the Raptors won the first half by ten.

Monday, January 21 at Long Island Nets

Raptors 113
Nets 87

The “big three” of Loyd, Richardson, and Boucher were back together on Monday as the team travelled to Long Island. Once again, the combination of those players proved too much for the competition. Loyd led the way with 24 points, six assists, and six rebounds; Boucher had 22 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks; Richardson had 17 points, five assists, and three rebounds.

All three were efficient from the field too, which really helped turn this game into a rout. The team as a whole made their first six shots, while the Nets couldn’t hit anything all game. The Nets shot 33% as a team and 29% from distance, making just 8-for-28 on threes.

Wednesday, January 23 vs. Westchester Knicks

Knicks 111
Raptors 102

Finally, in the big news of the week, Malcolm Miller made his return yesterday as the Raptors hosted the Westchester Knicks. Miller came off the bench for Mahlalela’s 905, playing 16 minutes and scoring three points. Inauspicious, but after eight months away, it’s to be expected.

The 905 struggled defensively in this loss overall, as seven players scored in double digits for Westchester. On the other side, Chris Boucher dominated again, scoring 25 points on 19 shots, grabbing 13 rebounds, and blocking four shots.

In a more surprising turn, it was another newcomer who filled in with support for Boucher. Wyoming guard Josh Adams, who recently gave up a contract in China to try to find a role in the G League, was signed earlier this week by the 905 and looked great. Scoring 21 points, he also had five assists, and two rebounds at the point position.

Outside the big names, with Jordan Howard sitting with a groin injury, it was nice to see solid bench lines from Cooke Jr. (10 point), Rodney Pryor (11 points), and Christian Watford (11 points), as these athletic players have shown they can have some scoring punch when there’s minutes to be had.