Even though they sported one of the best records in the G League, it wasn’t setting up as the happiest holidays for the Raptors 905. Due to the injury to Jonas Valanciunas, they were playing without one of the league’s top players in Chris Boucher, whose absence with the NBA club was partially to blame for a three-game losing streak.
Still, Boucher’s play with the Raptors continued to earn him buzz, which was summed up nicely in this Grind 365 video mini-doc that focuses on the Montreal centre.
Without one of their stars, the 905 turned to other two-way player Jordan Loyd to pick up the slack, and he did so — Toronto played just three games over the last two weeks, but Loyd was excellent before unfortunately going down with an ankle injury.
We’ll get more into that, and other trending story lines, in this week’s Dial 905 rundown.
Friday, December 21 at Texas Legends
After losing their first game of the G League Winter Showcase to Memphis, the 905 finished their Vegas schedule with a win over the Texas Legends. They were led by an excellent shooting night from Loyd, who stuffed the sheet for 33 points (10-of-17, 3-of-6 from deep), eight(!) steals, seven assists, and six rebounds. If anyone knows of a G League fantasy league, I’m ready to sign up.
It was the fifth 30-point game for Loyd so far this season, as his play opened up a massive lead for the 905. A 66-point first half allowed Toronto to swell their lead to 27 in the third quarter, but the momentum stymied a bit late, allowing Texas to climb back in. Despite losing the fourth quarter 29-17, a pair of Loyd free throws late put the game on ice.
Also excellent for the 905 was Deng Adel, who, as first reported by The Athletic’s Blake Murphy, is starting to get some looks as a two-way candidate for other NBA teams. He poured in 25 points with the starting lineup, adding eight rebounds to mark a +11.
Harder to say this year not physically being at G League Showcase, but have heard a bit of buzz about Raptors 950 forward Deng Adel ahead of 2-way churn season here.— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) December 28, 2018
Thursday, December 27 vs. Lakeland Magic
Jordan Loyd’s strong play continued as the 905 returned to Mississauga following Christmas. His 23 points on 18 shots was bettered only by Kyle Collinsworth, who dropped 24 points (only missing two of his 12 shots), ten rebounds, and four assists in a win over Lakeland.
Unfortunately, Loyd’s night was cut short by a late ankle injury, coming on a layup make that forced an awkward landing. According to the team, he will be re-evaluated in the coming days.
Once again, the story of this game was the 905’s ability to stymie off a late run by the opponent. Toronto dropped 65 in the first half to build a 16-point lead, but were soundly beaten by the Magic in the third quarter. The two-pronged attack of Troy Caupain and B.J. Johnson led Lakeland for 43 combined points.
In the fourth, the 905 responded with a 10-0 run to seal their second straight win.
Saturday, December 29 vs. Maine Red Claws
Red Claws 102
It was a quick turnaround for the 905 for their third game of the two-week stretch, as they lost at home to the Maine Red Claws 102-89. Maine had previously lost a tight game to Toronto 108-104 in mid-November, as the 7-14 Red Claws seem to match up well against the 14-7 Raptors.
With Loyd out due to injury, the starting guard spot went to Myck Kabongo. The backcourt was also bolstered by the return of Malachi Richardson, who was able to join the team between NBA games to get some run in.
The run itself was solid, as Richardson scored 30 of the 905’s 89 points, despite needing 22 shots to get there. Toronto as a whole had a rough shooting night, dooming their efforts: they shot just 35% from the field and 30% from deep, also losing the turnover battle 13-10.
Zeroing in on the loss, it was a poor start and a poor finish that did them in. The 905 scored just 18 in the first and 19 in the fourth quarters, while also allowing P.J. Dozier to go off for 26 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, and two steals for Maine.
With that, the 905’s schedule now picks up the pace in 2019. They play three games in five nights beginning on Friday, with Westchester, Long Island, and Delaware on tap.