The Raptors 905’s comeback fell short against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers Tuesday afternoon in front of a raucous Air Canada Centre crowd in the first of two home games they will be playing there this season.
The ACC was packed with 18,900 fans for this early ball game, setting a new NBA G-League attendance record, a record that was previously set by the 905 themselves with 15,011 fans last season. Those in attendance were treated to the first meeting between the 905 and Vipers since last season’s finals where the 905 took the title in a three game series.
“It’s a real home court advantage for us,” 905 head coach Jerry Stackhouse said on playing at the ACC. “As you saw in the second half, they (the fans) really got into the game and I thought some of that energy helped our guys kind of push when we got it close, but we got to find a way to send them home happy.”
In the opening half, it was all Vipers as they held a 21-point lead after two quarters with their biggest lead being 22 points.
The 905 responded to start the third quarter, getting out to a 10-2 run to kick start their comeback effort. By the end of the quarter, the 905 cut their deficit to 15 points. That bit of momentum the 905 gained during that stretch carried over into the final quarter where they were able to get the margin down to just two points.
However, despite outscoring the Vipers by 13 points in the second half, it was not enough to dig themselves out of the hole they put themselves in during the first half.
“We came out and had a few errors on the defensive end, including myself and that’s just something we can’t do because we put ourselves down early and it made it tough for us to get back in it,” 905 guard Alfonzo McKinnie said.
The biggest back breaker for the 905 in this matchup was the Viper’s three-point shooting, making 14 shots from the outside compared to the 905’s six three-pointers.
“With a team like that, that thrives on shooting threes, you got to find a way to make a few,” Stackhouse said. “The three-pointer is a game changer.”
RJ Hunter led the Vipers in scoring with 30 points, while Monte Morris finished with 25 points and a game high 12 assists. Returning to the lineup for the 905 was Lorenzo Brown, who recorded a triple-double with 36 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists. Brown looked for his offence a lot more in the second half where he scored 23 of his 36 points.
“The bigs were pretty slow on their feet and the paint was always open so I just took it upon myself to make that decision and be aggressive,” Brown said on what he saw from the Vipers’ defence.
Brown’s triple-double was the first for the 905 this season with the most previous one coming from Edy Tavares on March 25. Brown has been spending time with the 905’s NBA affiliate Toronto Raptors the last two weeks as the third point guard for the team following Delon Wright’s shoulder injury.
McKinnie also returned to the 905 lineup, finishing with a double-double performance with 23 points and 16 boards.
“I just went out and played hard and crashed the glass,” McKinnie said.
McKinnie was recalled to the Toronto Raptors following this game.
The 905 have now dropped their last three games, falling to a record of 4-8 and in last place in the Atlantic Division. They will head out on the road for their next game in Grand Rapids to take on the Drive.