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2021-22 G League Playoffs - Capital City Go-Go v Raptors 905 Photo by Christian Bonin/NBAE via Getty Images

Dial 905: Raptors 905 split series vs Iowa Wolves to kick off regular season campaign

Dalano Banton shouldered the scoring load, and looked unstoppable at times, but the 905 couldn’t pull off the mini-sweep.

The Raptors 905 opened up their regular season with a split against Iowa Wolves. They won the first leg of their baseball series, 127-118, behind the heroics of Dalano Banton’s career-high 37 points. Unfortunately, the Raptors 905 could not survive Reggie Perry’s foul trouble for the second consecutive game, and that was the difference in a 128-124 loss before they moved on to their Long Island Nets series.

Banton averaged 36 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 2.5 blocks during this series and had to shoulder the scoring load for the most part. He’s shown flashes of his perimeter shooting, whether pull-ups or catch-and-shoot. Banton definitely came down to shake off some rust, as his three-point shooting looked off during his season debut against Greensboro Swarm during the Showcase Cup. His perimeter shot is starting to look more fluid, and he’s inching towards the shooting prowess he showcased last season, where he shot 39% from behind the arc.

Saben Lee was back with the Raptors 905 after a short stint with the Philadelphia 76ers as a two-way roster player, and it was an adventure watching him play with new faces. While his numbers were down for this series (11 points, seven assists, and two blocks), he brought some defensive stability to the backcourt.

Ron Harper Jr. upped his production from the Showcase Cup, going from 16.9 points to 19 points in the regular season. More than half of his FGAs come from the perimeter, and he’s shooting a blistering 43.8% behind the arc. Most of his counting stats are up; he averaged 8.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in this series.

Reggie Perry was great whenever he was on the floor, as his utility as a hub on the elbow provides some balance on the Raptors 905’s offense. However, he was in foul trouble the entire series — partly due to his aggressiveness but somewhat because his teammates put him in a tough position as well.

I know that the “scheme is the scheme,” but sometimes, in-game and situational adjustments must be made for various reasons. Perry’s been in foul trouble for half of the games played this season, including the Showcase Cup, and that number can be lessened if his teammates’ point-of-attack defense provided more resistance. Also, the scouting report should matter.

If Perry is at risk of getting deeper into the foul trouble situation, there’s no need to “switch-all” and allow the opposing team’s guards to target him. For example, D.J. Carton is a career sub-30 % perimeter shooter, so there’s plenty of time for the Raptors to go under on screens and dare him to shoot rather than let him explode to the basket.

Sterling Brown’s glue guy contribution to the team makes him a seamless fit as a starter. His ability to knock down his perimeter shots and put the ball on the floor to create his own or for his teammates is an upgrade to what the team had before.

The new-look Raptors 905 roster now bolster a competitive and balanced bench rotation, with the likes of Gabe Brown, David Johnson, and Hassani Gravett providing the firepower. Perry’s backup, Kenny Wooten is in-and-out of the lineup, while Aaron Epps has yet to suit up for the Raptors 905.

Raptors 905 coach Eric Khoury missed the second game of their Iowa series due to a personal matter. Assistant coach Demetris Nichols served as the acting head coach for the back end of their baseball series in Des Moines. If that name sounds familiar, that’s the same Demetris Nichols who had stints with Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls, and played for then-Iowa Energy coach Nick Nurse.

Now, on to the games!

Regular Season Game 01: Raptors 905 pull away late in the fourth for their first win of the season, defeating Iowa Wolves 127-118


Raptors 905: Saben Lee, Dalano Banton, Ron Harper Jr., Sterling Brown, Reggie Perry

Iowa Wolves: D.J. Carton, Matt Lewis, Phillip Wheeler, CJ Elleby, Brandon Sampson


Raptors 905: Ron Harper Jr. (TW), Dalano Banton (NBA)

Iowa Wolves: None

The Raptors 905 survived a battle of attrition, pulling away late in the game to nab their first win of the regular season, defeating Iowa Wolves 127-118.

Dalano Banton provided the firepower for the Raptors 905 throughout the game, leading all scorers with 37 points, nine rebounds, and four assists. Ron Harper Jr. added 22 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks.

D.J. Carton paced the Wolves with 33 points and five assists, while Matt Lewis added 23 points and four rebounds. The Wolves only had seven players dressed for the game, missing key players like Luka Garza, Josh Minott, Matt Ryan, and Emmanuel Mudiay.

It was a tightly contested game from start to finish, with both teams trading leads throughout the game. Perry started with four quick points but was quiet for the rest of the quarter. Banton and Harper Jr. provided the scoring punch to keep the Raptors 905 on par with the Wolves, and the bench trio of Gravett, Gabe Brown, and David Johnson kept them within 1, 30-29 after the first period.

The solid bench effort continued through the second quarter, and Perry’s layup capped off a 14-4 run that started late in the first period to give them a 40-34 lead. The Wolves responded with a 16-4 run behind Lewis and Carton to flip the script, but Saben Lee and Banton got the Raptors 905 back in front, 67-62 at the half.

The Raptors 905 tried to get Perry going in the third period, but he quickly picked up his fourth and fifth foul 3.5 minutes into the second half. His absence allowed the Wolves to tie the game with an 11-4 run midway through the quarter. It was a back-and-forth affair until, around the seven-minute mark of the fourth quarter, Perry picked up his sixth foul.

Banton and Harper Jr.’s timely shotmaking kept the Raptors 905 afloat late in the game, and a 7-0 run by these two Raptors put them ahead 119-114 for good as the Wolves ran out of gas and hit the wall. Carton tried to keep the Wolves in the game, pulling them within 120-118 with 39 seconds to go, but Banton’s drive-and-kick to Lee in the corner for the trifecta sealed the game.

Regular Season Game 02: Raptors 905 can’t overcome foul trouble that led to a disastrous third period, losing to Iowa Wolves 124-128


Raptors 905: Saben Lee, Dalano Banton, Ron Harper Jr., Sterling Brown, Reggie Perry

Iowa Wolves: D.J. Carton, Matt Lewis, Phillip Wheeler, CJ Elleby, Brandon Sampson


Raptors 905: Ron Harper Jr. (TW), Dalano Banton (NBA)

Iowa Wolves: None

The Raptors 905 started strong but could not overcome foul troubles to Reggie Perry and Dalano Banton, and the Iowa Wolves capitalized in the third period, outscoring the visitors 34-22. The Raptors 905 managed to get their bearings back in the fourth period, but the Wolves established their rhythm and had enough to fend off the Raptors 905’s comeback attempt.

Dalano Banton had another stellar game, leading all scorers with 35 points, ten rebounds, and five blocks. He did, however, commit five turnovers. Reggie Perry had a strong start and finish to the game, posting 25 points, nine rebounds, and two blocks, but foul trouble hampered him the entire game. Sterling Brown added 20 points and seven rebounds.

The Raptors 905 could not stop the downhill attack of D.J. Carton, who led the Wolves with 32 points and ten assists, but was also loose with the ball, coughing it up seven times in this game. Jordan Bohannon looked like JJ Redick out there, sinking five trifectas, including a dagger late in the game.

Perry dropped 15 points in the first 15 minutes of the game, helping the Raptors 905 take control of a close game. His absence proved too big of a hole for them, as the 905ers’ offense faltered without him. This predicament allowed the Wolves to get back in the game. Sterling Brown and Dalano Banton righted the ship for them to get the lead back, but the visitors started to look gassed.

Coach Nichols made a gamble by putting Perry back with less than three minutes in the first half, but instead, he picked up his fourth foul with eleven seconds remaining. The Raptors 905 had to rely on David Johnson setting up Dalano Banton for a SLOB alley-oop tip-in with 0.1 seconds to go for the Raptors 905 to take a 63-61 lead at the half.

Gabe Brown started in place of Perry to kick off the second half, and not having Perry was disastrous for the Raptors 905. They could not get a consistent offense going, and the Wolves got in the paint at will. Coach Nichols tried to stall by subbing in Ryan Hawkins for Gabe Brown, but the bleeding continued. With the momentum on the Wolves’ side, Perry subbed in midway through the third period.

Unfortunately, the offense went too predictable, with the Raptors 905 electing to dump the ball to Perry several times, and the Wolves raced to a 91-78 lead late in the third. Banton and Harper Jr. tried to slow down the Wolves’ momentum and had to settle with a 95-85 deficit heading into the fourth.

Banton imposed his will to start the final frame, going on a personal 10-2 run to cut the Wolves lead to 95-97. Sterling Brown also came up big, and his three-pointer tied the game at 103. However, the Wolves fired back with their perimeter shots. Jordan Bohannon and CJ Elleby dropped consecutive three-pointers as the Raptors 905’s offense went quiet for two minutes. Banton’s back-to-back trifectas cut the lead to 111-114 with less than four minutes to go, but this is when D.J. Carton took over. He led a 7-2 run, giving the Wolves a 121-113 lead with just over two minutes to go.

Perry and Banton teamed up to keep them alive, and Perry’s clutch freebies got them to 127-124 with 22 seconds to go. The Raptors 905 forced a dead-ball turnover, but their final play was as confusing as it gets. The Wolves defended the Banton/Perry PnR, forcing Banton to kick out to Saben Lee above the break. Lee faked a closeout, but instead of going for a drive-and-kick, he opted for a contested step-back three-point attempt with 14 seconds still on the clock.

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