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Dial 905: Degrassi jerseys (?) power Raptors to winning week

Jordan Howard comes to life as the 905 put more wins away as the post-season draws closer.

Toronto Raptors v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Raptors 905 should be applauded for how they’ve performed over the last month or so. With so much roster churn, set up by a flurry of changes with the Raptors’ NBA roster, it’d be understandable if the 905 would have a significant drop-off in play.

Even now, they have some of the familiar faces playing for them, but it’s on a sporadic basis. Chris Boucher and Jordan Loyd are up and down from the Raptors on a regular basis, which has created a lot of unpredictability in personnel from night to night.

Thanks to a stretch of games at home and a few new faces stepping up, though, the 905 have weathered the storm. This week, they were 2-1 in games against Wisconsin, Long Island, and Sioux Falls — the team is now 24-16 and still holding on to the third spot in the Eastern Conference with just under a month left in the regular season.

You sense Jama Mahlalela and the 905 coaching staff would like to settle into some predictability over the next little bit. Still, it’s impressive how the team has held its spot through the churn.

Let’s dive into the last two-week period in today’s Dial 905.

Wednesday, February 20 vs. Wisconsin Herd

Herd 108
Raptors 110

If you’re looking for an example of guys who weren’t getting big minutes in the first half stepping up, look no further than the first 905 game coming out of the NBA All-Star break. Central Arkansas alum Jordan Howard went off in this one, hitting five three-pointers on his way to 26 points and five assists.

Howard was supported by a more familiar face, as Jordan Loyd had 24 points, five rebounds, and four assists in a game that was highly physical against Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Bucks affiliate.

The 905 stormed out to an 18-8 lead in this one, but were up by just five after the first quarter. A big second quarter from the Herd gave them the lead at halftime, but the 905 ultimately won this game in the third — out-scoring Wisconsin 36-20. The Herd would make one more run late, as a closing seconds three brought them to within two. The scare went without merit, though, as the 905 closed out the win at home.

Saturday, February 23 vs. Long Island Nets

Nets 114
Raptors 106

Who would’ve pegged the Brooklyn Nets for having some of the best front office structure in the NBA? Their G-League affiliate, the Long Island Nets, continue to tear up the Eastern Conference, and earned a win over the 905 on Saturday in what was billed (extremely well) as Degrassi Day at Paramount Fine Foods Centre.

Blake Murphy at The Athletic gets into the reasoning behind a Degrassi theme better than I ever could, but the optics were definitely cool, with the team playing in aquamarine blue jerseys with Times New Roman text.

The big day also warranted a return to the 905 for Chris Boucher and Malcolm Miller, as the Raptors were full force against Long Island. Still, thanks to 25 points from Dzanan Musa, 24 points from Theo Pinson, and 21 points from Alan Williams, the Nets earned an eight-point win to spoil the party.

On the 905 side, Loyd was once again excellent, making 10-of-19 shots for 32 points, including five threes. Boucher had 26 points, but wasn’t as efficient in getting it, shooting just 7-for-20. The 905 supporting cast struggled too, as Jordan Howard had the next best point total with 14 while shooting 5-for-12.

Sunday, February 24 vs. Sioux Falls Skyforce

Skyforce 102
Raptors 119

Despite the disappointing loss to the East’s elite, the 905 recovered quickly in a win over Sioux Falls. Boucher was back up with the Raptors for this one, but Loyd (25 points) and Howard (21 points) got a great support game from MiKyle McIntosh in the front court, who had 24 points on a stellar 10-for-18 night from the field. McIntosh also made four threes, emblematic of the 905’s continued ability to pace and space their opponents into submission.

Sioux Falls got 28 points from centre Raphiael Putney, but their bench struggled with just 22 points compared to the 905’s 38.

Also having an important game was Malcolm Miller, who proved why he’s earned an NBA contract by taking two important charges in the third quarter to help the 905 build their lead past 20 points. He also made this huge defensive stop.

The 905 resume action tonight as they finally break their streak of home games to play the Canton Charge in Ohio. Just nine games remain after that before the playoffs.