Raptors 905 136, Grand Rapid Drives 105 | Box Score
Remember back in that bad storm in January, when the Northeast was all but shut down, stranding Raptors 905 in Westchester and forcing a postponement of their visit to play the Grand Rapids Drive? Well, that game got taken off ice on Monday, and damned if the 905 didn’t make it far more than a make-up game.
The third-to-last game of the 905’s inaugural season saw several records broken, the most notable of which for Toronto Raptors fans was Bruno Caboclo setting a career-high with 31 points. The Brazilian sophomore showed a nice mix of inside and out, spotting up from the perimeter and attacking off the catch. He made plays happen off the ball or forcing turnovers, and generally made sound, if a bit shot-happy, decisions.
The end result was a 12-of-20 shooting night, a 3-of-10 mark on threes, seven rebounds, five steals, and, uncharacteristically when he’s had big games like this, a single turnover. It was almost enough to make watching the game after the news of Kyle Lowry’s fluid buildup…you know what, nope. It wasn’t. Not even close. But it’s a really nice feather in the cap of Caboclo’s D-League season, and an end-of-year affirmation that he’s improved significantly since the start of the season.
Caboclo wasn’t the only one hopping off the screen or the box score. While brother Kyle took on the parent club with the Oklahoma City Thunder, trade deadline acquisition E.J. Singler was making his case that he’s the best Singler going, scoring 23 points…in the second quarter alone. He and Davion Berry have been shammgodsends down the stretch for the 905, instantly carving out large roles and finding two-way chemistries with the team, and Singler helped push an early 905 lead into the 20s with his major frame. He’d finish with 30 points and 10 rebounds, canning 7-of-12 3-point attempts. Berry, meanwhile, had 12 points and five assists, missing a single free throw to keep him from a perfect shooting night. The 905 outscored the Rapids by 30-plus when Singler or Berry or both were on the floor, easily team-highs and something that fits right in with the trend since they were acquired for mid-draft pittances a few weeks back.
Despite the early – and significant – lead, the Rapids managed to open the third quarter on a 19-5 run and get that lead back into single-digits. The 905 defense lost the plot a little, and they may have been guilty of taking their foot off the collective gas some. The punch to the mouth from Dahntay Jones and Grand Rapids was enough to wake them back up, and they pushed back ahead with a 24-11 run of their own, all but locking up the game entering the fourth.
From there, it was time for head coach Jesse Mermuys to empty the bench some, as he went 10-deep in the final quarter alone (and 11-deep overall, with a struggling Sim Bhullar, who was absolutely torched in his 15 minutes, sitting out the fourth).
By the time the night was over, the 905 had hit a franchise-record 20 triples (on 43 attempts), shot 56 percent overall, and nearly played to a draw on the glass despite playing the bulk of the game with smaller lineups. They held Grand Rapids to a 3-of-21 mark from outside, using that smaller, stretchier defense to chase them off the arc, and limited their own turnovers – normally their Achilles heel – to just nine.
It was a thoroughly impressive performance save for that stretch in the third, where Bhullar and DeAndre Daniels looked a little shaky. Daniels is still clearly working the rust off, but you can see him making the right reads and decisions, he just needs more reps after more than a year off from game action. He’s only got two more chances, though, as the 905 play Grand Rapids again Wednesday before wrapping up their season at home on Friday.Follow @raptorsrepublic