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Dial 905: Trades, injuries, and a hot streak through it all

The Raptors 905 continue to shift their make-up this month, but a consistent Chris Boucher has helped push a four-wins-in-five stretch.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Toronto Raptors Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Raptors 905 are thriving once again. While the team hit a bit of a rough patch in January with Chris Boucher in and out of the lineup due to Jonas Valanciunas’ injury, his full-time return has been the arbiter for a successful run — the team has won four of their last five games.

Another pair of key factors has been the return to form for Malcolm Miller. After feeling his way through a few games post-shoulder injury, Miller really started to get it going in the last week while playing at the power forward spot. We’ll get to that in the recaps.

Also, guard Josh Adams has been a reliable scorer for an already potent 905 offence. The undrafted Adams has averaged 16.7 points in seven appearances since joining the 905, shooting a ridiculous 44.4% from three on 5.1 attempts per game, while stuffing his line with 4.7 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.0 steals.

Add that to Boucher and Loyd and you’ve got a 905 team worth salivating over. The Raptors will also have some bumps to withstand regardless, though. Forward Kyle Collinsworth is reportedly out at least three weeks with a broken metatarsal, as the 905 lose one of their key role players.

Also, as you probably read on this site, guard Malachi Richardson was traded to Philadelphia along with a couple draft pieces for cash considerations. While Richardson spent time bouncing between the NBA and the G League, there are a few wins on the 905’s ledger that wouldn’t have happened without his shooting.

So, through the ups and downs, let’s look at the last two weeks in 905.

Saturday, January 26 vs. Windy City Bulls

Final:
Bulls 98
Raptors 102

Despite many new faces, it was Jordan Loyd who headlined the team’s outing here, as he notched his first career triple-double in a narrow win over Windy City. Loyd finished with 24 points, 17 rebounds, and 11 assists — a monstrous line supported by 25 points and 13 rebounds from Chris Boucher.

The Bulls were the ones who started hot in this one, though. A 28-17 first quarter margin left the 905 to scramble in the second half. Luckily, Boucher would score 21 of his game total after halftime, while Josh Adams sparked a couple key runs to get the 905 back in — Adams finished with 21 points on 15 shots. Eventually, under two minutes, they would take the lead for good.

The Bulls got a great outing from G League stud CJ Fair, who had 23 points and eight rebounds.

Monday, January 28 at Westchester Knicks

Final:
Raptors 106
Knicks 91

Headed back on the road, the 905 had a better start against the Westchester Knicks, as Boucher led them to a 15-point win. The centre would drop 25 points on 18 shots, while the rest of the 905 were balanced in support.

Notably, this was the breakout game for Malcolm Miller. Starting at the four, Miller dropped 15 points, his best total since returning to the team.

A three-pointer by Miller was the turning point of the game, as it keyed an 8-0 run to give the Raptors the lead in the third quarter.

Besides Miller, the 905 got 14 points off the bench from Duane Notice, 11 from Rodney Pryor, and ten from Jordan Loyd, as coach Jama Mahlalela went ten deep and got scoring from all but one player.

Wednesday, January 30 vs. Capital City Go-Go

Final:
Go-Go 104
Raptors 137

Another blowout! Remember how I mentioned up top that scorers have coalesced on the Raptors roster? Well, it all came together in a Wednesday home win over Capital City. Surprisingly, it was Rodney Pryor who led the way, scoring 27 points on 15 shots — while making an absurd seven threes.

Chris Boucher had 18, Josh Adams had 16, Jordan Loyd had 15, Christian Watford had 15, and Malcolm Miller had 12 as the 905 showed off all their weapons in the win.

As a team, the 905 made 23 three-pointers, setting a new franchise watermark. The game was another 11 a.m. start time, which has been favourable for the 905 this season. They’ve gone 3-0 in those “school day” games.

Friday, February 1 at Fort Wayne Mad Ants

Final:
Raptors 112
Mad Ants 117

Alas, they had to lose eventually. The 905’s lone loss of the last two weeks came against Fort Wayne on the road, as a strong second quarter by the Mad Ants ended up being the difference in what was otherwise a tight game throughout.

The 905 struggled shooting from distance in this one, making just eight of 32 from beyond the arc. Josh Adams and Christian Watford, notably, were a combined 3-for-12 on threes.

Alize Johnson was stupendous for the Mad Ants, with 31 points and 14 rebounds in 40 minutes of play. Fort Wayne managed their 117 points despite just eight players dressing — three starters played at least 35 minutes for the home side.

The 905 were led by 19 points from the aforementioned Adams. Boucher sat this one out, shorting the Raptors of some scoring punch. While their starters were all in double figures, that standout performance was missing.

Wednesday, February 6 at Wisconsin Herd

Final:
Raptors 115
Herd 112

Boucher would leave his mark in the next game, though, leading the 905 to a narrow win over Wisconsin with 34 points and 12 rebounds. Also crucial was Jordan Howard, who dropped 27 points on five threes coming off the bench. There was also this, from Josh Adams.

The 905 started hot in this one, leading by as many as 16 in the first half before a Herd run cut it down to four at halftime. The Herd managed to hang around after that, but were unable to break through — missing out on an opportunity at the end of the game to force overtime after a failed inbounds play.

The 905 now sit at 21-13 after their 4-1 two-week period. That puts them a game back of Long Island for tops in the Eastern Conference and 0.5 back of Lakeland in second. A healthy five-game home stand is on the horizon, which will be an interesting stretch as the playoffs loom at the end of March.