At midnight on Saturday night, the Raptors unofficially started their new season, fielding a roster with the core of their G League 905 team. It was a Raptors 905 reunion of sorts, as last year’s starting lineup was on the floor to start the game, with Malachi Richardson playing for their opponent on the night, the Warriors.
The game was expectedly sloppy. Both teams battled nerves, lack of familiarity, and subpar skill sets. The referees were in off-season mode as well, as the whistles (and non-calls) were horrible, which let the game get physical with bodies flying all over the place.
The Raptors had a surprise starting lineup, with Corey Walden as the shooting guard instead of Duane Notice. The Golden State Warriors raced to an 8-3 lead until Jordan Loyd and Chris Boucher combined for an alley-oop dunk. As the Raptors tried to claw back, the Warriors pushed the lead again to 13-9 behind the balanced attack of Jordan Poole, Jacob Evans, and Smiley Yuck. (Kidding, it’s Alen Smailagic).
The Raptors were unable to get any consistent scoring until Loyd took over with back-to-back baskets to tie the game at 13 apiece. The Raptors managed to steal the lead behind the heroics of Richard Solomon, the first man off the bench, who scored six points to fuel a 10-2 Toronto run to a 19-15 lead.
The second quarter started with Dewan Hernandez plus bench players for the Raptors. Toronto’s newest draft pick struggled with his shooting during those minutes. However, he was far from alone there. The first half of the second quarter was awful, with both teams combining to go 1-of-16 from the field until Brandon Sampson hit a transition trifecta with less than half of the quarter left, putting the Warriors in the lead, 25-24.
With Toronto’s starters back, order was restored on both ends of the floor. The Raptors went on a 6-0 run behind Loyd and Walden’s three-pointers. Boucher finally found his range late in the quarter as he hit a corner 3. It was encouraging to see, even as more sloppy plays led to 38-31 score at the half. Boucher and Loyd were leading the way with nine points apiece for the Raptors.
The third quarter started with more mess for both teams. Meanwhile, Jordan Poole continued to struggle against Malcolm Miller. Hernandez finally got his first field goal on a transition layup. But then Travis Wear dropped back-to-back threes for the Warriors.
The Raptors struggled to execute in the third, which led to Richardson tying the game at 40 with a three. His Warriors teammate, Jacob Evans, started to get his rhythm, dropping 10 points in the quarter. With the rest of his teammates catching fire from the perimeter, the Warriors closed out the frame on a 19-3 run. The Warriors outscored the Raptors 28-7 in that time, ending the quarter with a 59-45 lead.
An aside here: I’m not sure if the referees are also Summer Leaguers, as the number of bad calls/non-calls picked up to start the fourth. The officials started letting the players get away with physicality that would have sent someone like James Harden to the line for days. Combine that with misses, turnovers, and lack of execution for both teams, the Summer League Experience was in full effect.
We continue on to the fourth. Poole rattled five quick points with Canadian Lindell Wigginton guarding him, while the Raptors only had two points to show for the first four minutes of the quarter. Adonis Thomas provided some spark for the Raptors, scoring five points in the frame, helping to trim the Warriors’ lead to 54-67. The Raptors tried to make this a ball game a few times, but Evans and Poole had answers for the Warriors.
The Raptors made one last push behind Boucher, Miller, and Thomas, as they cut the lead down to seven with under a minute to go. But a missed layup by Loyd while trying to get an and-1 sealed the fate of the Raptors. Jacob Evans led all scorers with 24 points, while Jordan Poole and Chris Boucher both had 21 points.
Jordan Loyd started off well in the first half but struggled in the second half.
Malcolm Miller hit the first shot of the game, but missed the rest of his shots. He did look great shadowing Jordan Poole, who struggled to score with Miller hounding him.
Chris Boucher had an off-shooting night from everywhere, including the free throw line, and didn’t pick it up until late in the game. Still, he was able to pace the team with 21 points and 13 rebounds.
Dewan Hernandez had a horrible Summer League debut, looking awkward dribbling and shooting. So far, he appears to be in deer-in-the-headlights mode for the most part. However, Hernandez combined forces with Boucher to shut down the interior for large chunks of the game.
Lindell Wigginton unsuccessfully tried to dunk on everybody’s head a few times and struggled to play the point through the Warriors’ ball pressure. In my opinion, a better version of Wigginton is already in the Raptors 905 (Josh Adams).
Corey Walden and Adonis Thomas looked decent in spurts, both finishing the game as the Raptors tried to rally late.
Duane Notice, Jordon Varnado, Jessie Govan, and Matt Morgan received DNPs for this game, but remember: Summer League games are just 10 minutes each quarter so there are not enough minutes to go deep in the rotation... Sagaba Konate did not play as he is still recovering from a knee injury... Coach Nick Nurse, and MIP Pascal Siakam, and the Hubie Brown’s Finals MVP Fred VanVleet were in attendance for the game.