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Dial 905: New-look Raptors keep the pace alive

With a big league shake-up comes a G League shake-up, as new 905 members get a chance to shine.

2017 Las Vegas Summer League - Dallas Mavericks v Chicago Bulls Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The symbiotic relationship between the Raptors and their G League team continues. As one team shakes up their roster, unloading players for Marc Gasol, the other is effected.

Because of the Gasol signing, instant 905 legend Chris Boucher and Malcolm Miller got much-deserved multi-year deals with the Raptors, shortening the time they’ll spend with the Mississauga crew. In addition, Jordan Loyd was bumped up to full-time status with the Raptors as they continue to build their roster in the buyout market.

This, coupled with the trade of Malachi Richardson for cash considerations, leaves the 905 rolling out much different lineups than they were two weeks ago. Still, in Jama Mahlalela’s system of pushing the pace and scoring in boatloads, the 905 resemble their old selves, even as new faces get it done. This week, the team went 1-2, splitting a home-and-home with the Maine Red Claws before falling to the Santa Cruz Warriors.

Let’s take a look at what happened in this week’s edition of Dial 905.

Saturday, February 9 at Maine Red Claws

Raptors 98
Red Claws 99

In last week’s column, we touched on the importance of adding a scorer like Josh Adams to an already potent roster. While the 905 are no longer the juggernaut they were for a brief moment, Adams is still a huge asset for a team that will need to find their way without Boucher and Loyd to lean on.

In a 99-98 loss to the Red Claws, Adams led the way with 23 points (albeit on 21 shots), adding seven assists and five rebounds. The 905’s role in this one was really just staying in it, as they had just eight players in tow — with Myck Kabongo playing just ten minutes — and shot just 8-for-35 from the three-point line.

Still, the Raptors got solid support from Jordan Howard, who had 18 points, and Derek Cooke Jr., who had 16 points and 17 rebounds, including this thunderous slam.

The key stretch for the Raptors came in the third quarter, as they opened the period on a 14-7 run to take a 67-64 lead. Late in the game, a Jordan Howard three cut the Red Claws lead to one with 1:30 left. The score remained the same, until Adams’ potential game-winner missed at the buzzer.

Monday, February 11 vs. Maine Red Claws

Red Claws 112
Raptors 121

The 905 bounced back a couple days later at home. Similarly thin, the Raptors got a massive performance from power forward MiKyle McIntosh, who doubled his previous career-high in the G League with 30 points (11-for-19), four rebounds, and three assists. Jordan Howard had 27 points in support, while Duane Notice had 17.

Despite trailing for most of this game, the 905 absolutely dominated the final frame, outscoring Maine 37-20 to finish with a convincing win.

McIntosh, for his part, filled in the role previously played by Boucher very well. He was able to finish in a variety of ways to get to his 30 points, including post-ups and drives to the basket, while ably performing at the back end of the 905’s defence.

Another swing point was Celtics two-way player R.J. Hunter having to leave the game due to injury in the second half. Hunter had 23 points in the Red Claws win on February 9, but had just 12 points in 30 minutes on Monday.

Wednesday, February 13 vs. Santa Cruz Warriors

Warriors 114
Raptors 111

In the 905’s final game of the week, a thinned-out roster seemed to finally catch up to them, as the Warriors had a balanced and deep attack — six players scoring in double digits — to beat the 905, 114-111.

Malcolm Miller was back with the 905 for this one and had an integral 24 points to lead the team, doing it on a hyper-efficient 9-for-15 night from the field. Josh Adams had 23 points and ten rebounds, while Jordan Howard chipped in 16 points off the bench.

Santa Cruz effectively won this game in the third quarter, as they went on a 10-2 run and outscored the 905 36-28 in the frame. Leading their myriad of scorers was Kendrick Nunn off the bench, who made 11-of-18 shots to finish with 25. Darius Morris had 20 points with the starting lineup.

Still, the 905 had a chance to tie it late, but Adams missed to seal it.

The 905 now sit at 22-15, still third in the Eastern Conference, with just 13 games left between them and the post-season. Seeing how this new core of 905’ers come together will be fascinating between now and then.