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Dial 905: Raptors get Long Island revenge in winning road week

Sure, the week started with a close loss, but the Raptors 905 of the G League strung together a couple wins after that and look to be trending upwards.

Raptors 905 v Windy City Bulls Photo by Randy Belice/NBAE via Getty Images

In last week’s column, we looked at the addition of Justin Anderson and the offensive boon it’s provided the Raptors 905. With another week under the belt of the G League team, though, Anderson’s addition is looking less like one where he’s taken a leadership role. Rather, its provided the 905 with one more quality offensive threat on a team that’s looking more balanced as the season goes on.

In a 2-1 week that started with a one-point loss to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants and ended with wins over Long Island and Windy City, the 905 had at least four players score in double digits in every game — with Wednesday’s win over the Bulls featuring seven players in double figures.

Anderson is a part of this, sure, but the 905 have also had Tyler Ennis step up, have had better games from Oshae Brissett as he gets into the starting lineup, and have had consistent athletic threats from Paul Watson, Dewan Hernandez, and Shamorie Ponds.

It’s proof of a steady climb for the 905 after a rough start to the season. Let’s get into the details in this week’s Dial 905.

Saturday, December 7 at Fort Wayne Mad Ants

Final:
Raptors 101
Mad Ants 102

Close games have been an M.O. of the Raptors 905 this season, and Saturday’s first game of a three-game road trip was no exception. The 905 came out hot, as Justin Anderson had 20 of his 31 points in the first half; the Raptors outscored the Mad Ants 37-20 in the first quarter alone.

The two teams went on lengthy runs in the second half, though. Fort Wayne started out of halftime on a 23-7 spurt, while the 905 would respond to take an 87-77 lead in the fourth quarter. In the end, after several lead changes, a free throw from Naz Mitrou-Long broke the seal and earned the home team the win.

Walt Lemon Jr. was massive for Fort Wayne in a game where they struggled to shoot, and honestly the Mad Ants would’ve been nowhere without him. He scored a season-high 36 points on 30 shots in 45 minutes, adding seven rebounds and two assists. As a team, the Ants shot just 25% from three.

Bright sides for the 905? Beyond Anderson’s 31, the Raptors got positive contributions from their bench every time they were on the floor. Matt Morgan and Shamorie Ponds combined for 23 points and were a +13 and +9, respectively. Oshae Brissett also had a really nice game — starting at the three as supposed to where he has been, filling a pseudo-NBA role off the bench — hitting 8-for-14 for 20 points.

Monday, December 9 at Long Island Nets

Final:
Raptors 106
Nets 95

Their third matchup in three weeks, the 905 and Long Island Nets have had no choice but to get familiar early on in this G League season. Their last matchup on December 5 was one of the wildest affairs in the league so far, with the 905 coming back from down ten — spurred by 40 points from Justin Anderson — and finishing just short in a one-point loss.

The 905 got their revenge on Monday, though it didn’t feature Anderson. Instead, Tyler Ennis and Shamorie Ponds provided a backcourt one-two punch, combining for 51 points on 40 shots. With Ennis starting and Ponds coming off the bench, the 905 were able to get over middling performances from their frontcourt, including a 1-for-10 game by Oshae Brissett and 5-for-16 by Dewan Hernandez.

Ponds was an eye-popping +27 in his minutes on the floor, adding five rebounds and three steals to his 10-for-20, 25-point performance.

Still, this was a closer game than the final score suggests. The two teams were trading leads until the final quarter, when the 905 closed on a 36-16 run (can you really call it a run?) to secure the road victory.

Wednesday, December 11 at Windy City Bulls

Final:
Raptors 113
Bulls 109

For their last game of the week, the 905 showed what teamwork can do when nobody is really having an overtly excellent game.

As mentioned above, seven Raptors were in double digits in this game, led by 20 points from Paul Watson (8-for-14), who also had six rebounds and two assists.

In the road matinee, the 905 once again won the game with an outstanding finishing quarter. Outscoring the Bulls 32-22, a 12-3 run featuring six points from Oshae Brissett gave them the lead for good at the 5:49 mark, as Watson would put them up six with a layup with just under five minutes to go.

Brissett was another one of the guys in double figures, scoring 14 points on 13 shots. Shamorie Ponds (11 points), Duane Notice (10 points), Nicholas Baer (12 points), Justin Anderson (16 points), and Dewan Hernandez (11 points) were the others.

A balanced roster to begin with, getting the team going together will be a key as they look to keep improving on their 5-7 roster. Anderson’s addition has been a boon, but more importantly the affiliates and two-ways are starting to avoid regular clunkers (and are with the team, for the most part). It all adds up to optimism for the G League Raps.