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Raptors 905 v Fort Wayne Mad Ants

Dial 905: Raptors 905 sweep Fort Wayne Mad Ants, plus the latest roster moves

Now that the Showcase Cup experiment is over, it’s time for the Raptors 905 to get some regular-season action — and they started off right by sweeping Fort Wayne.

Photo by Pepper Robinson/NBAE via Getty Images

The Raptors 905 is back — for the NBA G League’s regular season! Say what? Didn’t they just play a bunch of games? Well, those games were part of the NBA’s experiment around hosting an in-season tournament. The Raptors 905 got off to a good start, but the pandemic prevented them from participating in the AT&T NBA G League Winter Showcase.

The rise in active COVID cases in the NBA ranks saw an increase of whopping 100+ G League call-ups via hardship exception. Still, the Raptors 905 players were unfortunately under H&S protocols, so there might have been some missed opportunities right there. Nevertheless, Reggie Perry expectedly got the first call-up for the Raptors 905 when the Portland Trail Blazers grabbed him via the hardship exception.

The G League went into a holiday season hiatus to allow the NBA teams access to the available player pool. The start of the regular season got pushed to January 5th. Raptors 905 GM Chad Sanders used this opportunity to retool, making the following roster changes:

In:

Justin Smith, Wing

Smith was a former top 100 recruit entering college but had a lacklustre four years in Indiana and Arkansas. However, what’s undeniable is his athleticism, strength, motor, and nose for the ball.

Aaron Best, Guard

Canadian Aaron Best, Ryerson legend, was part of the Raptors 905 roster that went to the Finals back in 2018. He was Lorenzo Brown’s primary backup.

Jodie Meeks, Guard

Raptor legend and 2019 champ Jodie Meeks will be joining the team as he stays in shape for a potential call-up.

Reggie Perry, Big

Reggie Perry rejoined the 2nd game of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants mini-series after the Blazers chose not to renew his 10-day contract.

Out:

Jawun Evans, PG

Jawun Evans had an inconsistent Showcase Cup, and the trajectory mirrors his first stint with the Raptors 905. He got caught in the numbers game, where the Raptors have hundreds of other point guards on the team. His minutes were inconsistent, so did his production.

Andrew Rowsey, PG

Like Evans, Andrew Rowsey was a casualty of the numbers game. With at least Malachi Flynn and Dalano Banton poised to spend more time with the Raptors 905, the team doesn’t need a hundred other point guards, especially if they don’t offer positional versatility. However, when Rowsey did get playing time, he could not consistently make the perimeter shots that he was known for.

Now, on to the games:

Raptors 905 escape a “fuRuss” Mad Ants comeback

January 6, 2022, Raptors 905 def Fort Wayne Mad Ants 103-94

Starters

Raptors 905: Kevon Harris, Justin Smith, Isaac Bonga (NBA), Aaron Best, Andrew Rowsey

Mad Ants: Nate Hinton (NBA), Terry Taylor (2W), Bennie Boatwright, Gabe York, Walt Lemon Jr.

Assignees

Raptors 905: Isaac Bonga (NBA)

Mad Ants: Nate Hinton (NBA), Terry Taylor (2W)

Obadiah Noel came off the bench to get things going early for the Raptors 905, outscoring the Mad Ants 15-12 as they went on a 22-12 run. The Mad Ants’ Terry Taylor imposed his will in the paint, carving 14 points in the first half. The Raptors 905 looked like they were about to blow this game wide open, as Kevon Harris’ seven early third-quarter points pushed the lead to as much as 24. Russ Smith started to warm up, and he led an 11-0 run, but the Raptors 905 collectively got the lead back up to 80-62 by the end of the third period.

The Raptors 905’s offense continued to falter in the fourth quarter. Mad Ants’ Smith started to look unstoppable, punching in 19 straight points to cut the Raptors 905 lead to 93-89 with 3:30 left in the game. Smith appeared to have emptied the clip and missed a three-pointer, and Noel came back on the other end to hit his own trifecta. That was enough to give the Raptors 905 some breathing room, as the Mad Ants’ rally went out of steam.

Obadiah Noel dropped his career-high 28 points, including 6-for-7 behind the arc. Kevon Harris had a solid 18 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, and two steals. Justin Smith only had six points but had a couple of good blocks for his season debut. Aaron Best was not too shabby, dropping 16 points and nine rebounds for his season debut. Russ Smith led all scorers with 43 points off the bench, and Terry Taylor had 23 points and 11 rebounds.

The game was over when: Late in the fourth, Russ Smith came back with a quick layup to cut the lead to five, but the Mad Ants failed to find Smith in the next four possessions, including a back-breaking turnover by Gabe York that indirectly led to Harris’ putback to ice the game.

Raptors 905 take off as Mad Ants run out of gas

January 8, 2022, Raptors 905 def Fort Wayne Mad Ants 114-99

Starters

Raptors 905: Kevon Harris, Justin Smith, Isaac Bonga (NBA), Aaron Best, Andrew Rowsey

Mad Ants: Stephen Domingo, Russ Smith, Bennie Boatwright, Gabe York, Walt Lemon Jr.

Assignees

Raptors 905: Isaac Bonga (NBA)

Mad Ants: None

After an uninspiring game against the Mad Ants the other day, Isaac Bonga definitely asserted himself in this game. He was all over the place on both ends of the floor. He was going coast-to-coast, crashing the glass, defending the rim, and spotting up around the perimeter. Bonga scored nine of the Raptors 905’s first fourteen points, but his teammates went 2-for-10 during that stretch, allowing the Mad Ants to stay close. Reggie Perry came off the bench to help build an early eight-point lead, but Russ Smith got the Mad Ants within three at the end of the quarter.

The Raptors 905 seemingly playing down to their short-handed competition, and let the Mad Ants take a 32-29 lead early in the second quarter. Bonga’s activity kept the Raptors 905 neck-and-neck with the Mad Ants throughout the quarter, finishing with 17 points and 13 rebounds at the half.

Kevon Harris’ eight points to start the second half sparked an 18-9 run, but the Mad Ants went on a 14-2 run to tie the game at 70. Breein Tyree took over late in the 3rd period, providing the shot creation for the Raptors 905 with his seven points during the stretch, keeping the Raptors up 79-75 at the end of the period.

It was Gabe York vs the Raptors’ reserves early in the fourth period. The Raptors 905 had a hard time shaking off the pesky Mad Ants, with the Raptors 905 holding a 90-87 lead midway through the quarter. Unfortunately, there’s no Russ Smith magic, and a seven-man rotation took a toll on the Mad Ants, as the Raptors 905 pulled away.

Isaac Bonga led a balanced attack for the Raptors 905 with 22 points and 17 rebounds. Mr Consistent Reggie Perry filled the stat sheet with another double-double, 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Breein Tyree probably with his best game of the season. An efficient, much-more in control 17 points on 6-for-8 shooting. Mad Ants’ Gabe York led all scorers with 28 points.

The game was over when: Fatigue must’ve caught up to the Mad Ants as they hit a wall. Tyree, Obadiah Noel, and Reggie Perry shifted gears and went on a 16-2 run, taking a commanding 108-92 lead, and that was game.

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Up Next: The Raptors 905 are back hosting the Long Island Nets. Per Raptors 905, they have assigned Dalano Banton, Malachi Flynn, Justin Champagnie, and Isaac Bonga and all are expected to play tonight.

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