MISSISSAUGA— CJ Leslie’s thunderous jam with 19.3 second left sealed a double-double performance and the victory for Raptors 905 over the visiting Westchester Knicks on Tuesday night at the Hershey Centre.
The 105-99 comeback win extended the club’s NBA D-League streak to three, and solidified its hold on first place in the Eastern Conference.
Leslie, a 6-foot-9 forward, had 25 points and 13 rebounds in just over 31 minutes of action – including 12 points in the third quarter.
First time all-star Edy Tavares chipped in with 16 points and 13 rebounds to go along with five blocks and five steals as the club overcame a poor start.
“In the first-half we weren’t playing defence and the ball wasn’t flowing offensive wise. The main thing was just to get back to what we do,” added Leslie, who willed his team to victory despite the team’s leading scorer Axel Toupane ruled unavailable Tuesday due to injury.
“One thing is that I got to make sure that I have my energy up for these guys. That’s just part of the game. We wanted to make sure that even when the ball stopped we had to keep our energy up,” said Leslie. “That was the main thing.”
The home team was down 55-47 at the half before igniting an early 15-4 third-quarter run to stage the comeback victory. Antwaine Wiggins and Leslie were key components of the momentum swing as the duo combined for 21 of the team’s 39 points in the opening quarter of the second half.
“Everybody played well. It was a great team effort but CJ definitely was the guy tonight,” said head coach Jerry Stackhouse following his team’s six-point triumph over Westchester.
He especially singled out Wiggins.
“[Antwaine] is fun, man. He’s our energy [guy]. I look down and I always say that I don’t play him enough,” said Stackhouse.
“His plus-minus is always off the charts. He does all of the little things; he crashes the boards; he guards; he’s still getting better in his pick-and-roll defence, but overall he’s getting better…he’s the epitome of what we’re about here at [Raptors] 905”
The 905 struggled to find consistent offence in the first two quarters, as the Knicks limited the club to just 38 per cent (19/50) from the floor and challenged the Raptors to knock down contested outside jumpers.
Evidently, the Mississauga-based team was unable to find the mark from beyond the three-point line, hitting on only two trifectas in 15 attempts early on.
Despite struggling to contain Von Wafer and John Jenkins, as the pair combined for 26 first-half points, the 905 were able to stay within striking distance at the midway point of the game due to a strong 32 point effort inside the paint by the home club.
Tavares carried much of the offensive load, registering 12 of his 16 points in the opening two quarters and, with the aid of Leslie, helped spearhead the team’s 66-32 dominance inside the paint by the end of it.
Canadians Negus Webster-Chan and Brady Heslip combined for 20 points on the night, with Heslip recording 12 of those points in just under 35 minutes of action.
Wafer led the Knicks in the scoring column with 23 points, while Jenkins added 22 points and eight rebounds in the loss for Westchester, who fall to 14-20 on the season.
NOTES: Axel Toupane & Will Sheehey missed tonight’s action due to injury…Delon Wright and Fred VanVleet were both inactive as the pair were with parent club Toronto Raptors Tuesday in Chicago.
All-Star Edy Tavares 16pts 13rebs
Written by Jas Grewal
Photo by Robert Ong
Edited by Drew Ebanks