The league best Santa Cruz Warriors were in town Wednesday night to take on the Raptors 905. Following a big win against the Maine Red Claws where Forward Mikyle McIntosh had a break out game scoring 30 points, he and his team looked to carry that momentum into tonight’s game and head into the All-Star break with a victory.
The 905 started the game off slowly scoring only six points in the first five minutes of play. The Warriors took an early lead that would get to as much as nine. Their lead would be quickly erased as the 905 woke up and get their act together going on an 8-2 run and they would eventually tie it up by the end of the opening 12 minutes of action. Centre Derek Cooke Jr. led this push as he grabbed 5 offensive boards in the quarter helping his team get some second chance points early. Going into the second quarter the game was tied 26 a piece.
The 905 took their first lead in the second quarter when Guard Rodney Pryor hit a three. The Santa Cruz Warriors showed why they have the best record in the league by not getting rattled by the 905 run or the crowd and sticking to their game plan. The home team was playing good team defense by making the right rotations and taking charges but you could tell the inside rim protection from Center Chris Boucher, who was signed by the Toronto Raptors to an NBA contract on February 10th, was missing because the warriors were getting a lot of easy ones from inside the painted area. Both teams battled scoring back and forth all through the quarter making the game interesting for the fans that made it out to the Paramount Fine Foods Centre on this snowy Wednesday night. Highlight plays from Kendrick Nunn, who led his team in scoring at the half with 12, had the crowd in shock. Malcolm Miller led all scorers with 15 at the break being his usual self and knocking down the three-ball. 905 went into the break down one 57-56
To start the third quarter the game stayed tight, neither team letting up putting on a great display of basketball in a game that saw 23 lead changes so far. The 905 would begin to struggle with their shooting as the quarter went along but their aggression kept them in it. By constantly attacking the basket getting into the bonus early in the quarter they got some easy ones from the free throw line that kept them in the game connecting on 9 of their 14 attempts in the quarter. Much like the Golden State Warriors, Santa Cruz shot the ball very well from the field and the warriors began to pull away. They got their lead up to as much as 10 and lead 93-83 at the end of the third quarter.
In the 4th quarter the intensity picked up. The crowed got louder, the fouls got hard and every possession felt more meaningful. You could sense the 905 really wanted to win this game and send a message to the rest of the league. They showed no quit, even with the refs blowing their whistles and questionable times the 905 maintained their composure and continued to fight. Newly acquired Guard Jordan Howard was vital to helping the 905 make that final push by scoring 16 points off the bench in tonight’s contest. A Monster dunk by Adams, who finished the game with a double-double scoring 23 points and dishing 10 assists, had the crowd on their feet and the 905 found themselves only down by 3 with 36 seconds left in the game. Unfortunately they could not complete the comeback, Cooke Jr. did make a lay up to bring the 905 within one but a floater in the paint from Warriors Guard Darius Morris would be the dagger and the 905 would lose this one 114-111. The Warriors’ Kendrick Nunn lead all scores with 25 points and Raptors 905’s Malcolm Miller was right behind him with 24
After the game 905 head coach Jama Mahlalela was asked how he felt about his teams play tonight he replied saying they just needed to play with a bit more consistency and he was right. Putting together the kind of effort to that gave the crowd energy like we saw in the forth quarter for 48 minutes would make this 905 team pretty tough to stop. Coach also went on to say he is happy the team gets this break for the All-Star weekend so they can refocus. The Raptors 905 return to action Wednesday February 20thwhen they look to bounce back and defend their home court against the Wisconsin Herd.