Despite having three NBA reinforcements, a Westchester Knicks team devoid of upper-level talent made the Raptors 905 work hard for a win on Monday night. Coach Patrick Mutombo had to get his boys to play the staunch defence they’re known for from the late third quarter as former Raptors draft pick Dewan Hernandez was carving them up with 26 points through three quarters. It took Dalano Banton shifting gears in the fourth to pull the rug under the Knicks, to get a 112-105 win.
Banton started the game looking like the struggling version of himself in limited minutes with the main club. He was loose with the ball and a little out of control. Banton was a non-factor in the first half, finishing two points but had two unforced turnovers, and was a team-worst -13 at the time. However, he turned it around in the second half, including almost outscoring the Knicks by himself in the fourth quarter. Banton dropped 23 points on 9-for-11 shooting, including three three-pointers. He imposed his will and got what he wanted, whether it was a straight-line drive to the basket, a scoop shot, or looking like KD massaging the ball to get a pull-up three-pointer. Banton finished with 31 points, four rebounds, four assists and did not turn the ball over since the first quarter.
Yuta Watanabe’s first assignment with the Raptors 905 was a success, dropping 24 points, including four three-pointers. As expected, he was a defensive anchor, hosting a block party (four blocks) while snatching 10 rebounds. Malachi Flynn continued to struggle shooting from behind the arc (1-for-6) but had a much better showing than the last time he was with the farm team. He took over a couple of times throughout the game to prevent the Knicks from pulling away. He finished with 13 points and six rebounds. Ashton Hagans came off the bench to provide the spark, putting up six points, five rebounds and seven assists — but was a game-high +28 in 29 minutes.
The Knicks’ Brandon Williams led all scorers with 34 points, including 11 in the fourth as he tried to will his team back. Former Toronto Raptor big Dewan Hernandez continues to trend up, dropping 29 points and 12 rebounds. He’s having his best season so far, averaging 18.6 points and eight rebounds after a couple of sub-par seasons. Based on his play this season, it makes sense that the Raptors were intrigued by his size, motor, fluidity with the ball, and his budding perimeter shooting.
Going back to Banton, perhaps he should stick with the Raptors 905 so that he can do more of this?
Let's just keep Dalano Banton with the Raptors 905 if it means he can lab shots like this pic.twitter.com/NwLingvH1N— JD Quirante (@jdkeyrants) January 25, 2022
Raptors 905: Kevon Harris, Dalano Banton (NBA), Malachi Flynn (NBA), Yuta Watanabe (NBA), Reggie Perry
Westchester Knicks: MJ Walker, Aamir Sims, Dewan Hernandez, Jordan Allen, Brandon Williams
Raptors 905: Dalano Banton (NBA), Malachi Flynn (NBA), Yuta Watanabe (NBA)
Westchester Knicks: None
Yuta Watanabe started his Raptors 905 debut with a nice catch-and-shoot three-pointer, and with Banton’s jumper, they were up 9-0 three minutes into the game. However, the Westchester Knicks took advantage of the loose handle of Banton and the Raptors 905’s poor shooting. Jordan Allen and Brandon Williams would bring the Westchester Knicks back on an 11-0 run to take the lead. Flynn looked aggressive early, and he got on the board with a floater and followed it up with a trip to the line. Both teams would exchange buckets throughout the quarter, with former Raptor Dewan Hernandez starting to show the fluidity and touch for a big man that enticed the Raptors organization. Watanabe’s first-quarter block party allowed the Raptors 905 to get a 28-23 lead, but the Knicks would answer with four straight points to close the quarter, chasing the Raptors 905 28-27.
The Raptors 905’s bench would hold serve to start the second quarter, with Jodie Meeks, Aaron Best, Ashton Hagans, and Josh Hall making an impact offensively. However, the Knicks realized the Raptors 905’s lack of inside presence, and Hernandez’s seven points helped the Knicks go on a 14-5 run to take the lead, 41-38. It was Flynn’s turn to get aggressive, scoring four quick points and setting up Perry for a pick-and-roll the next play, putting the Raptors back ahead, 46-41. However, Hernandez continued his onslaught, scoring seven of the Knicks’ 11-2 run to close the half, with the Knicks leading 52-48.
The start of the second half was flat for the Raptors 905, missing their first three attempts until Banton shocked everybody with an emphatic dunk.
However, the Knicks were just hungrier, and with Perry out of control for several possessions, the Knicks went on a 14-4 run to put them up, 68-56. The Knicks took advantage of the Raptors 905’s early penalty situation, as they built their lead to as much as 14 points. However, coach Patrick Mutombo would have his boys man up and play better defense to close the quarter. Watanabe and Flynn provided the scoring load, and Ashton Hagans and the rest amping up their defensive intensity, closing the quarter strong and cutting the Knicks’ lead to 82-75.
The fourth quarter started the same way as the Raptors 905 closed the third frame — with tremendous defensive pressure and pushing the pace offensively. The Knicks were backpedalling, for the most part, disrupting their rhythm. The Raptors 905 forced the Knicks into eight straight empty possessions, going scoreless in over four minutes. Meanwhile, Banton started to impose his will. His three-pointer put the Raptors ahead, 85-84, for the game’s final lead change. Banton went toe-to-toe with the Knicks, scoring 16 of the Raptors 905’s 18-10 run to put some distance between them and the Knicks. The Knicks attempted to fight back, but Watanabe’s banked three-pointer and a nice alley-oop dunk from Banton pretty much sealed the game.
The game was over when: The Knicks tried to claw back, but let me show you how the Raptors 905 slapped that attempt over and over:
Raptors 905 doesn't want the rebound because blocking shots = more fun pic.twitter.com/L7xDFt6qXc— JD Quirante (@jdkeyrants) January 25, 2022
Up next: The Raptors host Detroit Piston’s Motor City Cruise tomorrow for the battle of supremacy in the East.