A big fourth quarter from Raptors 905 propelled them to an 88-82 victory over the Lakeland Magic on Saturday afternoon in Mississauga.
The come-from-behind win improves the Raptors record to 4-1 on the young season.
It was a stingy start for both sides in this one, with extreme defensive intensity on both ends. Kevon Harris was hot early for the 905, and led them to a 23-16 lead after the first. The Magic came out firing to start the second, opening up a 15-2 run on the back of forward BJ Johnson. The Raptors regained composure late in the quarter though, and led 40-39 at the break. The third was more of the same as the Magic exploded out of the gate, dominating the glass and making things look easy inside. The 905 were able to minimize the damage, but there was work to be done as they trailed by six heading into the fourth. After a stingy start to the final 12, Reggie Perry and Breein Tyree shot the 905 back into the lead, and they were able to hold on late with some clutch defensive stops, giving them the six point victory.
“There’s work to be done offensively, but thankfully our defence carried us”, said 905 coach Patrick Mutumbo, reflecting on the game. “Anytime you can shoot 32% and still find a way to win, I’m not going to complain.”
The 905 were led by Perry, who shot 9/16 for a team-leading 22 points, along with 12 rebounds for the double-double. Tyree came alive in the fourth quarter and finished with 16, while Ashton Hagans impressed with 14 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists. Harris provided offence in the first and finished with a crucial 15 points, while Jodie Meeks had a big 5 points and 5 rebounds off the bench. It was a tough night for Canadian and Ryerson graduate Aaron Best, who finished with 2 points, 3 rebounds and 1 assist.
Lakeland forward Johnson carried a bulk of the offensive weight in the loss, scoring a game-leading 28 points alongside 7 rebounds. Big man Jeremiah Tilmon and guard Hassani Gravett finished with 12 points each, while Samir Doughty contributed with 8 points off the bench.
It was a tough shooting night for both sides, but the Raptors were able to convert on clutch threes in the fourth, and never turned back.
“As a team I feel like we really struggled shooting the ball, so I just wanted to help, try and open up the floor”, said Kevon Harris. “I just wanted to be aggressive and help us win.”
The win was important as any for the 905 who are now 4-1 and near the top of the Eastern Conference. It’s still early, but it’s a good start to the year for a team that could challenge the top teams in the league.
Both teams will meet again on Sunday afternoon for the second half of a back-to-back at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre.
Perry – 22 PTS 12 REB 3 AST
Tyree – 16 PTS 8 REB 3 AST
Harris – 15 PTS 3 REB 5 AST
Johnson – 28 PTS 7 REB 0 AST
Tilmon – 12 PTS 6 REB 2 AST
Gravett – 12 PTS 7 REB 5 AST