by A. Dorcely
It’s not luck. It may be unity. It may be personality. Definitely camaraderie! What am I speaking of Raptors’ fans?. Well let me explain. Toronto is currently on a winning streak. They’ve won 13 straight games. That is a franchise record. Last week versus the Brooklyn Nets they got number 14. I feel some background information is needed here though. During this streak “they’ve had five players averaging fifteen points and led the NBA in points off turnovers”.
The Raptors also have a first time all-star starter in Pascal Siakam and an all-star reserve in Kyle Lowry. Generally when things are going this good you wouldn’t want them to stop. But like it or not all-star break is coming. Which is why the title of this article is such as it is. Can Toronto sustain what’s been going on with Brooklyn in town? By the way both teams are without some key pieces. You’ll be able to figure out who I’m talking about if you’re an NBA fan and if you continue reading.
Toronto got off to a quick start led by Terence Davis who was starting in
place of Kyle Lowry. The pace was up and down. With about 8:38 left in the first Davis had 7 points and 3 rebounds. VanVleet earned his second foul during the quarter which caused a change in the momentum of the game because he had to head to the bench. At that time VanVleet was the Raptor’s leading scorer. The Nets also switched to a zone defense that led to one turnover and almost another. Caris LeVert for Brooklyn seemed to be getting whatever he wanted on the offensive side of the court. At the end of the first the score was 36-33 in favor of the Nets. LeVert had 13 points and 2 assists. He was in for a big night.
Three minutes into the second quarter only one made basket until 9:30 mark when Matt Thomas scored. Both offenses seemed to stall. 7:38 left in the quarter the score was 44-36 Toronto. Then DeAndre Jordan went up for a lob which he caught and reverse dunked tantalizing the crowd. Matt Thomas answered that basket with a three pointer which garnished an equal amount of cheers from the Toronto faithful.
At the 4:38 mark the score was 52-43 Raptors. Matt Thomas would catch a lob pass for a reverse lay up from Serge that sent the crowd into a frenzy. Then Serge followed it up with two baskets of his own while Siakam had a string of buckets as well to end off the first half. The score was 66-54.
The first couple of minutes of the second half was marred by fouls and stale offense. But VanVleet woke up the Raptors as Toronto went up by 18 with 8:37 left in the third. The Nets went back into a 3-2 zone and were able to cut into the lead significantly. The score was 100-88 at the end of the third quarter.
Brooklyn ran a lob play for Jordan to start the 4th and cut the lead to 10. Surprisingly Toronto started the quarter with one starter on the court. T. Davis who is getting his start today because of the Lowry’s injury presumably. Picking up the action at 4:12 left in the 4th quarter with the score 113-106 Toronto. It’s all about fortitude at this point. Dinwiddie continues to sizzle with 21pts 6rebs 10ast. while LeVert has 31 pts 3rebs 4ast. For many players that’s a good night’s work.
3:01 left in the game and the score 113-110 the Raptors. A timeout is called by Toronto. VanVleet is able to score after some empty possessions by both teams. This extends the lead to 116-110. LeVert with his exploits is able to answer as he has done all game. With 1 minute left Vanfleet drives to the hole hard and misses a contested layup. LeVert comes back down and hits a jumper at about the free throw line to tie the game. The score is 118-118. The Raptors call another timeout. 35.3 left.
The Raptors all star gets his number called. He drives to the hole and is fouled. The new system being tried out in the NBA allowed for the Nets’ coach to challenge the call. The foul was confirmed. Siakam goes to the line for 2 free throws and the lead. 22.9 left on the clock. He misses the first. Disappointment fills the arena air. Siakam makes the second. Jubilation! Brooklyn has the ball. LeVert comes up the court. Dribbles a bit. Takes a shot as the clock is expiring and misses. Joe Harris catches the ball and puts it up at the buzzer. It’s a MISS!!! Final score 119-118 Raptors. Tonight Toronto’s depth as a team was just as good as lucky!