A Toronto Raptors vs Miami Heat game doesn’t have any flow to the game and typically ends up becoming an unnecessary barnburner. Well, their affiliates kept it on-brand, as the lone meeting between these two teams this season saw 18 lead changes, 12 ties, a dramatic end of regulation, and a made-for-TV ELAM ending.
Fortunately for the Raptors 905, David Johnson came to save the day. Johnson confidently swished a 30’ three-pointer to put the Sioux Falls Skyforce away to the score of 126-123.
For those who are not following the NBA G League, the NBA conducts their experiments at the G League level, and one of them is the ELAM ending in place of extra time in OT. For this season, the target score is +7, so for this game, since the teams were tied at 117 after four quarters, the first team to reach 124 points wins the game.
Regular Season Game 8: David Johnson calls game!
Raptors 905: Hassani Gravett, Ron Harper Jr., Gabe Brown, Reggie Perry, Kenny Wooten
Sioux Falls Skyforce: Jamaree Bouyea, Marcus Garrett, DJ Stewart, Mychal Mulder
Raptors 905: Ron Harper Jr. (TW)
Sioux Falls Skyforce: N/A
Ron Harper Jr. channelled his good ol’ Rutgers Scarlet Knights self, providing late clock and dead half-court offense creation throughout the game. He led all scorers with 26 points, seven rebounds, and two steals. Harper Jr. had a clutch jumper late in the regulation, but the Raptors 905 could not hold on to the lead. He also had a chance to win the game in OT, but he missed his second freebie that could have won the game.
Reggie Perry shared the offensive workload with Harper Jr., carrying the teams’ offense in several pockets of the game, leading to 24 points, four rebounds, and four assists. He had eight turnovers, but most were aggressive turnovers trying to set up his teammates. Hassani Gravett was stellar pinch-hitting at the point with no Dalano Banton and Jeff Dowtin Jr. for this game. He chipped in 22 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists.
Canadian Mychal Mulder led the charge for the Skyforce with 25 points, including five trifectas. Luckily for the Raptors 905, he did not convert all three of his freebies, missing one, leaving the Skyforce short of a point from winning via ELAM ending. Jamaree Bouyea added 25 points and six assists but was big in the fourth for the Skyforce, as he willed his team into forcing the game into OT.
Air Canada balled out against the Raptors 905 pic.twitter.com/IB3cE0wvnp— Sioux Falls Skyforce (@SFSkyforce) January 16, 2023
The Raptors’ old friend Justin Champagnie played his second game as a Skyforce, and he’s had a much better impact this time, scoring seven points and grabbing seven boards. Perry’s former Mississippi State Bulldogs teammate DJ Stewart added 22 points and two blocked shots but had a chance to win the game in regulation AND in OT, but he couldn’t make his free throws.
Champagnie will probably end up as the Skyforce’s sixth or seventh man on their rotation, and it’ll be an adjustment for him as he won’t be a focal point of the offense with the Skyforce. With the Raptors 905, he’s almost guaranteed to get around 15 shots per game. With his new role and the reality of a non-assignee, he’ll have to find ways to impact the game, especially with the majority of the Skyforce’s shots going to DJ Stewart, Mychal Mulder, and Jamaree Bouyea, even without their two-way contract players.
The Skyforce made it rain from the perimeter early, hitting three of their first four three-pointers to take a 15-9 lead. Champagnie made his first appearance against the Raptors 905 around the seven-minute mark, and he didn’t waste time making his presence felt with three offensive rebounds in the same possession. The Raptors 905 came up empty over the next four possessions, which included three turnovers, allowing the Skyforce to soar to a 21-13 lead. But Gravett’s playmaking got them back with three consecutive fancy assists, but Champagnie’s freebie kept the Skyforce ahead 32-27 after the first period.
The Raptors 905’s bench went on a 9-2 run to give them a 36-34 lead, and it was a rock fight from here on. Darryl Morsell was big off the bench in the second period, scoring eight points while dishing out three assists, with two of them resulting in back-to-back trifectas from Gabe Brown and Hassani Gravett. Champagnie made his first bucket against the Raptors 905 off a dunk cutting to the basket, but Perry had the last laugh in the first half, with his dunk giving the Raptors a 65-60 lead after two quarters.
Coach Khoury didn’t like the spacing with Kenny Wooten as a starter, so he opted to start Ryan Hawkins in the second half. It didn’t help Perry, and he was easily targeted by the Skyforce on the other end, with Kadeem Jack running through him for an and-1 to tie the game at 70. Hawkins got him back the next play, hitting a three-pointer, spurring a 10-2 run punctuated by Gravett’s pick-six dunk.
Aaron Epps is starting to get his conditioning back, and he showcased his bag by scoring eight points after subbing in for Perry midway through the third. However, the Raptors 905 got hit by Elmoresanity, as John Elmore made back-to-back trifectas, with Champagnie finishing off a 13-4 run to tie the game at 91 late in the period, only for Morsell to answer with a three-pointer to give the Raptors 905 a 94-91 lead entering the final frame.
Gabe and Ron ganging up on Justin pic.twitter.com/mOAXM71TCs— JD Quirante (@jdkeyrants) January 15, 2023
Elmore opened up the final period with a three-pointer to tie the game, but the visitors tightened up their defense, and Perry led a 7-0 run to take a 101-94 lead. Perry’s deep three-pointer gave the Raptors 905 a 108-101 lead, but Jamaree Bouyea started to take over for the Skyforce. He scored 11 points in the fourth, mostly during the late rally that put the Skyforce ahead, 116-115, with fourteen seconds to go. Coach Khoury called for a timeout and pulled out a well-designed play to get Harper Jr. downhill against a smaller defender for a clutch jumper. The Skyforce called their “reset” timeout, got the ball to DJ Stewart, and Morsell forced him to a tough fade away along the baseline, but Stewart managed to draw a foul. Luckily for the Raptors 905, Stewart split his free throws; they then called for a timeout, but Harper Jr.’s deep three was off, and we went to ELAM OT.
The Raptors 905 and Skyforce would play until one team reached 124 points. Bouyea got off to a nice start with his floater, and they were just five points away. Gravett then came up with two of the smartest plays of the game. He saw the Skyforce play the incoming pick by Harper Jr. too strong, so he immediately rejected the screen as the lane opened for a layup, drawing an and-1. The next possession, it was a pick-and-pop between him and Perry, and he perfectly took advantage of Kadeem Jack’s slight hesitation to switch and went downhill for the layup, putting the Raptors within two points of the ELAM goal, with a 122-119 lead.
DJ Stewart hit a well-contested long two over Perry’s outstretched hand to cut the Raptors 905 lead to 122-121. Raptors 905 can win with two points, the Skyforce by three points. Coach Khoury called for time and drew up a PnR action between Gravett and Perry but was stuffed by the Skyforce defense, forcing Gravett to throw an errant cross-court pass. Skyforce called time to draw up a play, but Morsell defended Stewart well, so they looked for secondary and tertiary action. Bouyea found a relocating Mulder from the top of the key and rose up for the win, but he missed — but the refs called foul on Gravett’s closeout. Mulder got a chance to close the game with three freebies, but he missed the first! Mulder made the next two freebies, putting the Skyforce ahead, 123-122.
Raptors 905 called time and got a Harper Jr./Perry PnR action from the top of the key. Mulder went under the screen to stick to Harper Jr., but Harper Jr. got the momentum going downhill, and Mulder was forced to foul Harper Jr. on his layup attempt. Skyforce challenged the call, but was unsuccessful. Harper Jr. made the first but missed the game-winning freebie.
The Skyforce didn’t call for time, came down and got the ball to Stewart, who drew Perry on a DHO switch. Perry defended Stewart’s jump shot well but was whistled for a foul. (Unfortunately, they already used their challenge earlier.) With the game tied, Stewart went to the line for all the marbles with two chances to win the game. Luckily for the Raptors 905, Stewart missed both freebies.
No timeout, so Gravett and Perry went for a screen action to get the ball to Perry. Perry was looking to take his man off the dribble, but he saw two other bodies close in on him. At the same time, David Johnson relocated to the open area Perry vacated. Perry’s quick recognition allowed him to kick the ball out to Johnson on time, drawing Johnson’s defender away to give him space. Johnson was around 30’ away, definitely Steph Curry range, but confidently pulled the game-winner.