The Raptors 905 made it rain late Monday morning in Greensboro but had to survive a late rally by the Swarm.
Showcase Cup Game 05: Raptors 905 def. Greensboro Swarm, 123-116
Raptors 905: Saben Lee, Ron Harper Jr., Gabe Brown, Reggie Perry, Kenny Wooten
Greensboro Swarm: Bryce McGowens, Anthony Duruji, Mark Williams, Kobi Simmons, Jalen Crutcher
Raptors 905: Ron Harper Jr. (TW), Justin Champagnie (NBA) (DNP - INJ)
Greensboro Swarm: Bryce McGowens (TW), Mark Williams (NBA)
The Raptors 905 visited the Greensboro Swarm on Tuesday afternoon, and usually, the visitors would struggle to go through a matinee game. Still, the Raptors 905 jumped on the Swarm in the first half, building a 24-point lead as they made it rain from the perimeter. The visitors made 8-for-14 and got a Nexus lane pass to the bucket in transition, shooting a blistering 60% overall in the first half. Perhaps the Swarm woke up and smelled the coffee during halftime, as they held the Raptors 905 to 15 points in the third frame and kept pushing in the fourth, cutting the lead to four with less than two minutes left. However, Reggie Perry and Ron Harper Jr. had enough juice late in the game to prevent a collapse. Of course, Saben Lee came up with another steal to ice the game as the Raptors 905 defeated the Swarm 123-116.
Ron Harper Jr. led all scorers with his career-high 29 points and seven rebounds while drilling three trifectas. Gabe Brown also notched his career-high with 23 points, eight rebounds, and shooting 5-for-8 from the perimeter. The duo combined for 7-for-9 shooting from downtown in the first half, and their shooting set the tone for the team. Reggie Perry added 25 points and six rebounds, while Saben Lee dropped 19 points, nine assists, and three steals.
Gabe Brown opening up the game with a three-pointer felt like it set the table for the Raptors 905. They wound up going for 3/7 from the perimeter this quarter. Still, it stretched the defense allowing Reggie Perry’s interior passing and Saben Lee’s drives to the basket to have relative success. However, the Swarm were getting what they wanted on the other side of the floor. Mark Williams was a big presence inside. It was a good back-and-forth affair to start the game, but the Raptors 905 went on a 13-4 run to end the quarter, with their defense warming up, leading to transition points.
Christian Vital opened up the second quarter for them with a casual top-of-the-key trifecta. The 905 also turned up the defense a notch. They were off to the races often, turning turnovers and misses into transition opportunities. Harper Jr. was the big beneficiary of this pace, getting cherry picks and early transition three opportunities. Mark Williams’ presence was felt inside the paint in the half-court, but it was a pace that was not suited for him. It also doesn’t help that Bryce McGowens looked like rookie Zach LaVine who was being converted as a PG but would almost always end up jacking up shots. Anyways, the open court and the spacing created by the Raptors 905’s shooters benefitted Reggie Perry as well, who racked up 12 points, as they turned an eight-point lead into a 76-53 lead at the half, punctuated by Harper Jr.’s long-distance dial.
The Raptors 905 opened the second half with another Gabe Brown three-pointer, giving them their biggest lead at 25 points. However, the visitors eased up on the gas pedal, allowing the Swarm to slowly chip into the lead, despite a sloppy start to the half by the hosts. Jalen Crutcher’s back-to-back three-pointers cut the Raptors 905’s lead to 78-63, as the Swarm’s defense gradually turned up a few notches. McGowens’ dunk in transition, Jaylen Sims and Kobi Simmons’ back-to-back three-pointers after, and the lead was cut to 85-77. The Raptors 905’s closing lineup for this quarter had to match the hosts’ defensive intensity to keep a 91-79 lead heading into the final frame.
Coach Eric Khoury opened the final period with an excellent set play, leading to a Harper Jr. dunk down the middle. That was just the precursor, as Harper Jr. became the primary playmaker despite having Vital on the floor. He had a pretty ISO against Williams, blowing by the 7-footer while using the rim to protect his layup. Speaking of Williams, he tweaked his ankle on the next play and was taken out of the game after his free throw.
The Raptors 905 had plenty of chances to blow the game wide open, and Brown’s trifecta, followed by Vital’s up-and-under, gave them a 108-88 lead. However, Crutcher willed his team back with a 16-2 run, cutting the Raptors 905’s lead to 110-104 with around four minutes left. The Swarm made it a one-possession game with Duruji’s and-1 cutting the lead to 118-115. Coach Khoury entrusted the ball on Harper Jr.’s hands to come up with something, and he bullied the seven-footer Williams to the basket, making him goaltend his shot, giving the Raptors 905 a 120-115 lead with 50 seconds to go. The Raptors 905 followed that up with a great defensive stand. Perry split his free throws, with the Swarm calling a “reset” timeout with 29 seconds remaining. Brown was called for a foul before the ball came into play, gifting the Swarm a free throw, but Lee drew a clutch offensive foul from Williams, and Brown was sent to the line, and his two free throws pretty much put the game away.
The main club is going through a bunch of injuries, so Jeff Dowtin Jr. and Justin Champagnie were recalled and inactive for this game. Saben Lee’s bumped his numbers to 20.2 points and 2.6 steals per game and is tied for the 5th most steals this season. He should keep climbing up the ranks, but his shooting is a bit alarming, shooting 8.3% from the perimeter. It looks like Ron Harper Jr. has found his place in the offense, showing offensive versatility, as he’s now averaging 25 points and 8.5 rebounds these past two games.
Mark Williams, the Charlotte Hornets’ 1st round pick (15th), dropped 18 points, 12 rebounds, and three blocked shots but looked just as raw as Christian Koloko for the most part. Bryce McGowens, a former Raptors draft favourite, struggled with his shooting but scored 19 points on 3-for-13 shooting. Kobi Simmons and Jalen Crutcher carried the offense for the Swarm, combining for 52 points on 9-for-17 shooting from the perimeter.