The Raptors 905’s Thursday night rematch against the Delaware Blue Coats was in some ways a redux of their previous match the night before. The Blue Coats frequently forced turnovers (19 to the 905’s 13), feasted in transition (32 fast break points to the 905’s eight), and scored easily at the rim. To their credit, the Raptors put up a better fight in the second and third quarters but still fell 127-112, to the Philadelphia 76ers affiliate.
The 905 got off to a poor start, falling behind 29-18 with 3:18 left in the first quarter. The 905’s bench, which had an overall good night, was essential in swinging back the momentum from the end of the first to the beginning of the second quarter. Specifically, the lineup of Dalano Banton, Gabe Brown, Ryan Hawkins, and Darryl Morsell along with starter Christian Koloko managed to cut the lead to a more manageable seven in less than six minutes of playing time, injecting energy into the team in the process.
Gabe Brown was the most impactful player in that window, knocking down three triples completely in rhythm. In all, he doubled his output from the night before, generating 16 points and four 3-pointers. The Michigan State product entered the game averaging 11.8 points and 2.6 threes.
“I had to do it in college, so it’s no big deal to me,” said Gabe Brown of his role coming off the bench. “I’m just going out there and just trying to play hard. Anything that I can do to this team to bring a spark – no matter if it’s my energy, talking, playing defence, making shots – I just want to win.”
Banton, playing just his second game back from injury, shot 50 percent from the field for 19 points, two assists, and two steals. He played an aggressive, yet under control game, swiping two steals while limiting his fouls and turnovers to just one. Only his shot wasn’t working for him, making just one-of-five from deep.
The reigning NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion Mac McClung didn’t make (or attempt) a single dunk on Thursday night. Regardless, the 6’2” guard inflicted significant damage, scoring 21 points for a second consecutive game and dishing five assists. He also had two steals. Defensively, McClung has a pestering style that’s self-sacrificing, unwavering, and disciplined – essential defensive traits for any undersized player hoping for a long NBA career.
Jeff Dowtin Jr. was once again excellent, showcasing his impressive shot making skill even when under duress. He had a well-rounded game of 19 points, three triples, six rebounds, and six assists. The Toronto Raptors two-way player has scored at least 20 points in three of five of the 905’s games in March. Only the Blue Coats have prevented him from crossing the threshold.
The 6’5” forward Sterling Brown was the only other 905 starter who had a point total at least in the teens. He ended his night with 20. Like Dowtin, the importance of Brown’s ability as a shot creator is highlighted when the team is unable to get into a flow and execute their offence. However, he had four turnovers in the game and was held to just three points in the 905’s lackluster fourth quarter. Delaware scored 29 and held the Raptors to 20 points in the frame.
Leading the men in blue was 76ers two-way player Louis King who cashed in from all over the floor. The 6’7” forward had 16 points before halftime and finished with 24 points and three treys.
Blue Coats’ sixth man Braxton Key was highly effective yet again, shooting 66.7 percent for 16 points along with 13 rebounds, seven assists, and three steals. Key, a nephew of NBA hall-of-famer Ralph Sampson, was named to the NBA G League All-Defense and All-Second Teams in 2022.
Jaden Springer bounced back from a two-of-nine shooting effort the night before, this time making nine shots of 19 for a 22-point, 11-rebound double-double – his third of the season. He also had seven assists, splitting primary ball handling duties with McClung and King throughout the night. He entered the game averaging 18.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 2.6 assists.
“They got a solid seed for a reason,” said Sterling Brown of the opponent. “They play with that aggression, fast pace, and we got to match it and just get back on defence and stay solid. Lot of fouls, lot of unnecessary reaching… They felt like they could attack us and keep getting to the line. They did what they were supposed to do. We responded at times and at times we didn’t, so we got to prepare and get better. We’ll see them again.”
The Blue Coats had 20 free throw attempts and made 15. The 905 had 13 attempts and made 11.
The 905 completed their five-game homestand with a 3-2 record. They have an overall record of 13-12, tumbling all the way down to eighth in the East from fourth just 24 hours ago. The Blue Coats improved to 19-7, running away with the Eastern Conference second seed.
The 905 will visit the Grand Rapids Gold on Sunday, March 12 for the first leg of a road back-to-back. Tip off will be at 3:00 P.M.
Thursday night’s Delaware Blue Coats vs. Raptors 905 box score click HERE.