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Maine Celtics v Raptors 905

Dial 905: Raptors 905 sweep Lakeland Magic — and should the Raptors look into Ashton Hagans?

The 905 swept their series against the Lakeland Magic and now sits at the top of the Eastern Conference standings.

Photo by Cole Burston/NBAE via Getty Images

The Raptors 905 might be peaking at the right time. After an inconsistent and sometimes frustrating Winter Cup run, coach Patrick Mutombo stayed the course, and the Raptors 905 are now the top East team with a 5-1 record, despite not having their top players for the most part.

This past weekend, the Raptors 905 swept the Lakeland Magic on their back-to-back series, showing signs of growth in several players starting to find their role on the team. Nobody did a better job taking advantage of the opportunity than Ashton Hagans, who had a career game on the second game of their back-to-back, putting up career-high in points, rebounds, steals, assists, and minutes played. Hagans basically made it difficult for the coaching staff to take him out of the game.

Hagans bring defense, toughness, playmaking, and tenacity every time he’s on the floor. He’s pesky and got chaos in his blood; that’s why he’s successful in his stints, even if he’s on limited minutes. Now that we see his minutes scaled up, Hagans proves that he can do a lot more, as evident by these past two games. Hagans’ shooting is a revelation, and if he can knock 1-2 of them every night, the Raptors should look into Hagans, whether as a 10-day or a two-way contract player. Based on what coach Nick Nurse needs from his bench, he might be a good fit.

Kevon Harris is another one who’s enjoying success with the Raptors 905. He’s gone from fringe rotation player last season to a starter, regardless of how many assignees the Raptors 905 get. Harris has made it hard for the coaching staff to take him out of the starting lineup like Hagans. He’s averaging 16.2 points per game while shooting 48.5% from behind the arc (in 5.5 attempts) while getting more and more of the scoring load for this team. That said, Harris should be on the shortlist of NBA G League’s MIP consideration.

Breein Tyree is starting to get his groove back after a rusty Winter Cup run, and newcomers Justin Smith and Jodie Meeks make the most out of their minutes. Even Raptors’ two-way contract player David Johnson looks like he’s rounding into form after coming back from a calf injury.

Unfortunately, amidst these positive upticks, Raptors assignee Isaac Bonga suffered an ankle injury that has sidelined him for a few games. The outlook looks good for the Raptors 905, but they’re not going to overwhelm opposing teams with their talent. Their wins are still predicated by their tenacious defense, transition opportunities, and hitting their shots when it matters — much like their parent ball club.

Raptors 905’s used a Mana Drain spell to steal the game in the fourth

January 15, 2022 @ Paramount Fine Foods Centre, Raptors 905 def Lakeland Magic 88-82


Raptors 905: Kevon Harris, Ashton Hagans, Aaron Best, David Johnson (2W), Reggie Perry

Lakeland Magic: BJ Johnson, Aleem Ford, Jeremiah Tilmon, Jaire Grayer, Hassani Gravett


Raptors 905: David Johnson (2W)

Lakeland Magic: None

The defending champs may not resemble the team they had last season, but they are still a handful, despite not having any reinforcements. BJ Johnson, Aleem Ford, and Hassani Gravett all have had their cup of coffee in the NBA this season. Lakeland Magic’s BJ Johnson led all scorers with 28 points and seven rebounds, looking unstoppable inside the arc. But the Magic hit a dry spell, perhaps due to the Mana Drain that coach Mutombo’s team imposed in the fourth quarter, limiting the Magic to five points in the last six minutes in the game.

Reggie Perry came up with the “usual,” a double-double of 22 points and 12 rebounds. Breein Tyree added another good all-around game with 16 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. Kevon Harris chipped in 15 points and a career-high five dimes, showcasing another facet of his game. David Johnson still looked rusty in this game but was there to hit a clutch three-pointer to seal the game.

The Raptors 905 threw the first punch to start the game, showing up with defensive intensity and coupling that with perimeter shooting, as they raced to an early 14-7 lead. They cruised through the first quarter, putting the Magic just right within arms-length. This time, the Magic flipped the script in the second frame, going on a 17-2 run, behind BJ Johnson and Hassani Gravett’s combined 11 points during that streak. The Magic held an eight-point lead before the Raptors 905 went on an 11-2 run to end the quarter, stealing the lead back at 40-39.

The Magic wrestled the momentum back in the third period, holding the Raptors scoreless for the first four minutes of the game, building a 53-40 lead as Johnson got his way, pouring in 10 quick points. Reggie Perry finally got the Raptors 905 on the board with his layup, and his eight points in the quarter kept the Magic from pulling away.

The Raptors 905 managed to keep the game close in the fourth quarter, even taking a 71-69 lead via a 9-0 run led by Breein Tyree. The Magic had a 77-75 lead with about six minutes to go, as the Raptors 905 clamped them by holding them to five points for the remainder of the game. The Raptors 905 held the Magic to 3-for-10 shooting in the last six minutes, including eight straight possessions where they forced the Magic to either a turnover, miss, or a blocked shot. That gave the Raptors enough cushion to go on a 10-0 run to steal the game.

The game was over when: The Magic were up 82-80 with just over two minutes left. Hagans’ layup got blocked, resulting in a two-on-one fastbreak led by BJ Johnson. Kevon Harris stopped BJ Johnson’s layup, forcing a jump ball AND winning the jump ball. Harris followed that up by creating points off a dying possession to tie the game. A play later, Harris got into the teeth of the Magic’s defense, and kicked out to Hagans on the corner, who found David Johnson wide-open for a three-pointer.

Ashton Hagan’s career night was too much for the Lakeland Magic

January 16, 2022 @ Paramount Fine Foods Centre, Raptors 905 def Lakeland Magic 111-99


Raptors 905: Kevon Harris, Ashton Hagans, Aaron Best, David Johnson (2W), Reggie Perry

Lakeland Magic: BJ Johnson, Aleem Ford, Jeremiah Tilmon, Jaire Grayer, Hassani Gravett


Raptors 905: David Johnson (2W)

Lakeland Magic: None

The Raptors 905 leaned on their hot start and Ashton Hagans’ career night to send the Lakeland Magic back south of the border winless. Hagans showed his potential with an all-around game of 24 points, 11 assists, seven steals, and six rebounds. His defense was Gary Payton II-level-ish, with the way he’s snatching balls away from the Magic players. What could possibly be a revelation is Hagans’ 4-for-4 from the perimeter. He only attempted three perimeter shots in the past two games while going 0-for-5 in seven games during their Winter Showcase run.

Also, let me get this out of the way:

David Johnson had his first good game since his return, putting up 16 points, four rebounds, and three assists. What’s encouraging to see is his nine-straight points to start the third quarter, where he looked like an NBA player. Kevon Harris added 18 points, 12 rebounds, and two blocked shots and was instrumental on both ends of the court to thwart the Magic’s comeback attempt. Jodie Meeks turned back the clock for a bit, going 5-for-8 from downtown en route to 15 points.

The Raptors 905 defended BJ Johnson much better this time, holding him to 19 points in 21 attempts. Jaire Grayer and Hassani Gravett lead the Magic with 19 points each.

Both teams started slow until the Raptors 905 broke this game wide open with their bench mob, with Meeks dropping four three-pointers. Justin Smith added six points during that run, as they got up 30-17 at the end of the quarter. Alex Antetokounmpo saw his first action of this back-to-back series to start the second quarter, and he calmly made his first shot of the game - a three-pointer. Harris’ three-pointer pushed the lead to 38-18, but the Magic would wake up from their slumber and go on a 14-2 run behind Gravett and Grayer’s shotmaking.

The Magic tried to inch closer in the third frame, cutting the lead to four early in the quarter. However, David Johnson looked unstoppable, racking up nine points as he went toe-to-toe with the Magic. Perry’s personal 8-0 run pushed the lead back up to 70-57. It looked like the Raptors 905 were about to call this a game early, with Hagans hitting a three-pointer to push the lead back to 20 midway through the third quarter, but the Magic closed the quarter strong with a 21-7 run, making this a game at 84-78.

It got a little hairy for the Raptors 905 to start the final quarter, with the Magic getting to within 87-85. However, the Raptors 905 closed out strong, behind Hagans, Perry, Harris, and David Johnson’s perimeter shooting, for a 24-9 run to finish the game.

The game was over when: The Raptors 905 were up 95-90 with under five minutes to go, but the Magic were running on fumes. Perry blocked BJ Johnson’s layup, and Hagans found a streaking Harris for a layup. Hagans followed up this play with a casual drive-and-kick to a wide-open Harris for another three-pointer.

Up next: The Raptors 905 are in Chicago to play the Windy City Bulls tonight.

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