Rookies Impress in Win

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Rooks Combine for 57, A Back-and-Forth Victory versus Jeremy Lin and the Santa Cruz Warriors

The Raptors 905 improved to 2-2 on the short 15-game season, as they defeated the Santa Cruz Warriors 135-125 on Monday. The game started with a frantic pace, as both teams were coming off a day of rest. The Warriors started out strong with three consecutive threes that capped off an 11-2 run in the first two minutes of action.

The 905 responded with their own 9-0 run to tie up the game over the next two minutes, which included a couple of strong finishes at the rim by Jalen Harris along with a Henry Ellenson three.

In the second, the 905 opened up the game by forcing turnovers with their tenacious defence. At halftime, the 905 led 70-62. The Santa Cruz Warriors looked to make it a game in the third, as they closed in on the 905, cutting the lead to three with about 6:30 left to play in the quarter, but the 905 weathered the storm at recovered to bring their lead back up seven going into the fourth.

The 905 went out on a 13-5 run halfway through the fourth quarter and the game was never really in reach for the Warriors from that point onward.

Impressive Performances from Raptor Rookies Malachi Flynn and Jalen Harris

Malachi Flynn bounced back after a tough shooting night against the G-League Ignite on Saturday, as he was nearly perfect from the field at halftime. He shot five-for-six from the field, and had 17 points after the second.

Flynn was lights out all over the court, as he shot three-for-five from deep, and 13-for-19 overall from the field. He had a nice pump-fake that forced his defender in the air, drew the foul, and converted on the and-one. Flynn recorded a league-high 35 points to go along with seven rebounds, eight assists, and four steals on the night.

Head Coach Patrick Mutombo had high praise for Flynn’s performance, specifically on the defensive end of the ball.

“He was locked in defensively, he was in his gaps as you saw him getting a lot of deflections, you saw him getting some steals, not from gambling, but from being in the right position. You know the kid can score, but the thing is defensively, I thought he did a good job getting it to the ball, talking to his teammates, and impacting the direction of the ball. That side excites me, and we are thankful, we’ll take the 35 points, don’t get me wrong, but I’m really excited for his defensive effort,” said Mutombo.

Jalen Harris also bounced back after some rough shooting in the previous two games, as he finished with 22 points on seven-for-15 shooting from the field. He looked stronger off the dribble, at the rim, had a couple more opportunities cutting off-ball, and looked more efficient on the court as a whole. Coach Mutombo noted that Harris needed to be more efficient with his dribble during pre-game media availability, and Harris looked to have made some strides in that area between games. Harris credited yesterday’s film session as a key factor in the team’s performance coming off the loss on Saturday.

“We sat down yesterday and we watched a lot of film, we were in there for about an hour or so, an hour and a half, we kinda just broke down each person, we were kinda just talking through each play, each possession and kinda just getting on the same page. I think that was a big piece and that kinda helped us bounce back tonight,” said Harris.

Alize Johnson also impressed out on the court, as he continues to impact the game on defence, and on the glass. He finished with 12 points, 13 rebounds, and two steals in his 30 minutes of action.

For the Warriors, Jordan Poole led the way with 32 points, seven rebounds, and four assists on the night. Former Raptor Jeremy Lin had 17 points and eight assists, but shot just six-for-15 from the field.

Nico Mannion was a marquee matchup for Flynn, as a fellow rookie in similar situations in the G-League. He finished with 24 points and five assists.

Key Notes:

The 905 shot 50.5% from the field, while also shooting 42.4% from three on their way to 135 points, and they continue to show why they have the league’s best offence so far. Nik Stauskas was the leading scorer for the 905 heading into the game against Santa Cruz, averaging about 19 points per game, but he hasn’t shot it particularly well from deep in his first four games.

Up next for the 905, they’ll be taking on the Agua Caliente Clippers on Wednesday.

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