The Raptors 905 were unable to carry over their fourth quarter momentum from Wednesday’s victory, falling to the Birmingham Squadron 115-95. Birmingham, a three-win team with the worst record in the NBA G League by record, established themselves early by capitalizing on the 905’s lack of defensive focus and poor offensive execution in the first half.
Squadron forward Feron Hunt smelled blood in the water instantly, taking full advantage of the 905’s early-game struggles. He had a number of open looks throughout the game, producing 21 points on 10-of-18 shooting and seven rebounds. 16 of those points came in the first half. On the defensive end, he used his sturdy 6’8” frame and athleticism to good effect as a disruptor, and he was rewarded with four steals and two blocks for his effort.
Sterling Brown once again led all 905 scorers off the bench with a season-high 23 points, nine rebounds, and five assists. He was often the sole source of energy for the home team, especially in the first half. Upon entering the game, he stole a bad pass from Kelan Martin for a pick-six. His hot shooting continued as well, making three-of-six triples and 53.3% of his shots from the field. He’s made a total of nine 3-pointers in the last two games.
“We let one go today,” said Gabe Brown. “We’ll be prepared for the next back-to-back. They got the best of us today, but we didn’t stop fighting. That’s what I love to see.”
Bouncing back and making a positive impact for the 905 was Raptors rookie Christian Koloko. He was the team’s defensive anchor on a night where the perimeter was getting beaten with regularity. He had 14 boards for a consecutive game and five blocks. Perhaps most importantly, the 22-year-old seven-footer kept his personal fouls down to just three for the game.
“I just let the game come to me today,” said Koloko. Most of my turnovers yesterday were offensive fouls and some of it I just had to keep the ball high when I catch the ball. I feel like I did a pretty good job today.”
The big Cameroonian also demonstrated some growth as a screener in the pick and roll, though his teammates didn’t always find him when he was open off that action. His night finished with 16 points on six-of-nine shots and just one turnover.
NBA G League Next Up Game candidate Reggie Perry played well below his standard Thursday night with a 12-point, seven-rebound effort on just 25 FG%. He averages 24.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 3.2 assists on the season — all team-highs (with Dalano Banton unassigned and Koloko under the requisite number of games to qualify).
The speedy starting backcourt of Seabron and Kira Lewis Jr. had a field day with the 905 defence, seemingly getting to the cup at will and finding open cutters with great success. Seabron generated 25 points, six rebounds, and six assists for the Squadron. Lewis Jr., a New Orleans Pelicans 2020 lottery pick, contributed 15 points, seven assists, and no turnovers. They each had two steals as well.
The 905’s starting backcourt had a different kind of night, but not for lack of effort. Ron Harper Jr. had 14 points on 54.5 FG% but missed passing opportunities to open teammates and had a rough night defensively.
Dowtin Jr. showed a lot of fight, getting to the line multiple times (making eight-of-10) and generating 18 points in total. However, he looked sped up on Thursday and wasn’t at his usual level as a playmaker with just four dimes. He averages 6.7 assists this season.
After splitting the back-to-back series, the 905 fell to 6-5 while the Birmingham Squadron improved to 3-12.
The 905’s homestand resumes on February 2 against the 9-2 Eastern Conference leaders, the Cleveland Charge. The ball tips at 7:30 P.M. est.
Raptors 905 vs. Birmingham Squadron boxscore click HERE.