The Raptors 905 had the mother of all bounce back efforts, playing their best basketball of the season to defeat the Cleveland Charge 136-100. The Charge were the top seed in the Eastern Conference prior to this loss, usurped by the 13-3 Long Island Nets who are currently enjoying a seven-game win streak.
The 905’s offence was on a string. They made an efficient 59.1 percent of their shots, reaping the benefits of increased ball movement and sharp decision-making. 40 out of the 905’s 52 made field goals were assisted.
Jeff Dowtin Jr. was the key cog in the well-oiled offence, successfully penetrating into the paint whenever possible to create advantages and consistently making precise reads. The wily guard produced 20 points, eight assists and three steals in just 26 minutes.
Big man Reggie Perry was both a beneficiary of and contributor to the high-level team play, appearing to relish playing against the top team in the NBA G League Eastern Conference. Perry’s two-way play was on full display in a third quarter sequence where he skied for a putback dunk, sprinted back down the floor, then blocked a layup attempt by Chris Walker all within 10 seconds.
He continues to show growth in his off-ball game, several times finding softs spots in the defence and punishing mismatches for easy buckets. His help defence was also on point Thursday night. It shows in the box score, too, as he produced 23 points on 60 FG%, eight rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block.
The shorthanded Cleveland Charge struggled to get anything going offensively, making just 23 buckets all night (on 29.1 FG%) and turning over the ball 20 times. They had a particularly hard time scoring inside with just 22 points in the paint.
The Charge were led by Jamorko Pickett who had an inefficient game-high 27 points, four threes and five assists. Trailing him was the long and mobile Isaiah Mobley, older brother of Cleveland Cavaliers star sophomore Evan Mobley. The 6’8” forward had 15 points on 5-of-15 shooting, seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals. Jordan Allen also had 18 points and made five triples off the bench.
Life on the defensive end was arguably worse for the Charge, especially after the seven-man rotation ran out of steam by the end of the third quarter. Pickett and Allen each played 42 minutes while Rashad Vaughn played a game-high 43. The squad was without Player of the Month Sharife Cooper, Didi Louzada, Mamadi Diakite, and Sam Merrill due to injury.
In addition to surrendering 74 points in the paint, the Charge allowed the 905 to dunk 14 times, including a massive between-the-legs windmill jam in transition by Gabe Brown that sent the crowd and 905 bench into a frenzy.
“When I first seen him attempt it, I’m like, ‘Man, he better not miss it,’” said Sterling Brown. “But he made it. It was great. It was great for somebody like that to get that type of shine, and just to get something like that, it’s definitely a confidence booster. We’re not gonna stop hearing it though. For the rest of the year.”
“I don’t want to hear anything about Gabe Brown,” said Perry with a wide grin. “That dunk couldn’t have happened to a worse person. We’re going to be hearing about that for the rest of the year — 2024!”
“That’s not my first time. I did it in high school before,” said Gabe Brown. “I’m always talking, I’m always positive, I’m always dancing, ya feel me? Just myself. They’re gonna hear this dunk for about a month now… Especially Reggie.”
Brown finished with 17 points and four rebounds. Aaron Epps also produced 17 points along with six rebounds and two blocks.
The 905’s defence was a cohesive unit against the Charge. They forced three shot clock turnovers and won on the glass, pulling down 54 rebounds to the Charge’s 38. Sterling Brown accounted for 12 of them. The 905 also offered plenty of help at the rim, getting 13 blocks as a team. The defence generated offence as well, with the team swiping 10 steals and scoring 23 points on the fast break.
David Johnson is showing a lot of improvement on both ends of the floor, especially on defence. There’s a growing desire from him to have a presence every possession. He does more of the little things, like setting back screens to free up teammates, or quickly rotating to the ball to secure a steal. His 13 points, three rebounds and one assist fail to tell the full story of a solid two-way game.
This flow state of the 905 is even more impressive knowing they’re integrating two new players who both signed with the team on Jan 30 : 6’2” guard Tra-Deon Hollins and 6’10” center Jeremiah Tilmon. Both are eager and willing defenders with good athleticism but were overzealous Thursday night. Perhaps due to first game jitters, both fouled out in the fourth quarter.
“I thanked them because they did a good job of welcoming me here, just making me comfortable,” said Hollins of his transition to the 905. “Everybody (is) family oriented. You see how we all acting on the bench? So, I feel I fit in here naturally.”
Friday, Feb 3 is the last day to vote for Reggie Perry for the NBA G League Next Up Game. You can do so on this site.
The Raptors 905 improve to 7-5 on the season while the Charge drop to second in the East 9-3.
The 905 rematch the Charge on Saturday, Feb 4 at 2:00 P.M est. at home.
Raptors 905 vs. Cleveland Charge boxscore click HERE.