Raptors End Summer League On A Winning Note

Holly MacKenzie - Raptors.com

After a string of frustrating losses, the Toronto Raptors are leaving Las Vegas with a victory. 

Playing the Los angeles Clippers in their summer league finale, the Raptors picked up a 64-60 victory thanks to a double-double performance from second-round draft pick DeAndre Daniels.

Daniels led Toronto with a game-high 15 points and 14 rebounds. He also had two blocked shots as the Raptors finished their week with a 2-3 record.

“I feel like I did a good job rebounding the ball pretty well,” Daniels said. “That was one of my main focuses coming in. That and playing defence.”

Watch: Game Highlights |  Caboclo 'And 1' | Nogueira Putback

Despite trailing by six at the end of the first quarter, Toronto outscored Los Angeles 24-9 in the second and held a 36-27 lead at halftime. Unlike Wednesday’s nightmare second half drought against the Houston Rockets (where the team squandered a 26-point halftime lead), the Raptors were able to stay in control the rest of the way.

Rookie Bruno Caboclo scored 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds to go with two steals, a blocked shot and a fresh haircut. He shot 3-for-9 from the floor, missed all three of his attempts from beyond the arc, but connected on four of his five free-throw attempts. 

Through the course of the week, there were ups and downs for the 18 year-old, but above all he impressed the coaching staff with the tenacity he showed while on the basketball court.

“He has a brashness to him and an exuberance of not being afraid that is so surprising from his situation and where he comes from,” Raptors summer league head coach Jesse Mermuys said. “It’s refreshing, it’s exciting to see this kid that doesn’t speak the language, knows nothing about the NBA and is ready to get his nose in there and mix it up. It’s super surprising and it’s exciting for me to work with that and get to develop that. It’s nice.”

Point guard Scott Machado translated for Caboclo after the Raptors victory. Caboclo said he was able to learn a lot about the game and himself over the course of the week. Feeling more comfortable as the week went on, he said the time with his coaching staff and teammates helped him out on both ends of the floor.

Lucas Nogueira grabbed 10 rebounds for the Raptors and once again displayed his passing ability picking up two nice assists. For the second straight game it was Nogueira’s court vision that captured Mermuys eye.

Dwight Buycks did not dress for the Raptors, sitting on the bench in a Raptors t-shirt and black cargo shorts. Mermuys said the decision to sit Buycks was to give the other point guards on the squad (Machado and Myck Kabongo) a chance to play since Buycks has already shown what he can do. Buycks was coming off a 24-point performance in Wednesday’s loss against the Rockets.

With their stint in Las Vegas wrapped up, the team will now go its separate ways. Rookies Caboclo, Nogueira and Daniels heading to Vancouver to work with director of sports science Alex McKechnie.

The trio each expressed excitement over getting in more work with the Raptors training staff. Caboclo’s english lessons will continue in Vancouver. Spending the past few weeks with Raptors staffers and players left Daniels feeling good about the vibe within the team.

“Everybody is hard working,” he said. “Everybody is determined and wants to get better. This whole Raptors team is a family. Dedicated and want to get better and want to win. Every guy on this summer league team worked hard every day in practice to try to improve and get better. That’s one thing I really liked.”

Asked to sum up the best and worst part of his first summer league experience, Caboclo succinctly wrapped up the week.

“The best part is when you win. The worst part is when you lose.”