What the Raptors Have Been Doing to Win Despite Shortened Lineup


Article Written by Jacob Pacheco (@JacobPacheco6)

Shortly after a losing week last week where Toronto had lost three in a row to the New Orleans Pelicans, Detroit Pistons and Boston Celtics, they’ve bounced back by winning three straight over the Chicago Bulls, Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks.

Throughout this three-game winning streak, the Raptors have been without CJ Miles, OG Anunoby, Norman Powell, and Kawhi Leonard - who has played one of these three games; that being the Magic - but even that wasn’t an easy game for the Raptors to overcome.

The week all started with a rare Saturday night game in Chicago where the Raptors completely steamrolled the Bulls. With Toronto nearly up 40 at one point in the second half, this gave chances for key bench players to get some minutes and playing time. Everybody on the Raptors bench pitched in, making it a team effort in Saturday’s win. Lorenzo Brown saw a career high in minutes with 22 minutes played and ten points. Malachi Richardson, Jordan Loyd and Chris Boucher also saw a career high in NBA minutes in the game. The Raptors defeated the Bulls by 39; 122-83.

Onto Tuesday night in Orlando - the first game of this back-to-back where Kawhi Leonard was back in the lineup after being out of Saturday’s game (rest). Still without Miles, Anunoby and Powell, this game was no walk in the park; sloppy to say the least. It was a night where missed shots were no surprise and scoring wasn’t at a high. The halftime score of the game was 47-37 with the Raptors leading the way. Easy win, right? Wrong. Orlando erased that ten-point deficit and put up 38 points in the third quarter to lead the Raptors by two. In that fourth quarter, the Magic started shooting 0/8 from the field, but the Raptors couldn’t make shots of their own. It thus came down to the wire in Orlando where Raptors fans saw a drawn-up play by Nick Nurse for Danny Green to win the game. With 0.5 on the clock, the Raptors escaped with a slim 93-91 victory.

Less than 24 hours later, the Raptors were in Atlanta to take on the 3-14 Hawks. Although nearly sitting at the bottom of Eastern Conference, this team is not to be taken lightly either. Especially with the likes of Leonard, Miles, Anunoby and Powell once again out of the lineup. Toronto did a much better job of shooting the basketball on Wednesday, shooting a whole ten percent better than on Tuesday night vs Orlando (43%/53.3%). It was a historic night to say the least where both teams ended the game with smiles on their faces.

The Raptors won every quarter to run away with a 124-108 victory. But outside of looking at that score line, a lot more happened than just an easy Raptors’ win. Kyle Lowry controlled the game from beginning to end. The little engine that could, The Bulldog, KLow wasn’t going to let anyone stop him, as he put up his 11th career triple-double in a Raptors’ uniform, putting up 21 points, 17 assists and 12 rebounds. Lowry is now one triple-double shy of tying Jose Calderon with most all-time on the team.

There was a small scare late in the fourth quarter. With the Raptors up 13, Kyle Lowry checked back into the game and caught an elbow from Hawks’ center Dwayne Dedmon that saw Lowry fall onto the court and blood dripping from his nose. Coming out of the timeout and the Raptors still up 13 with five minutes to go, Lowry got his nose patched up and continued to play. The team extended the lead and, finally with just over three minutes left, the job for Lowry and the Raptors was complete.

With just under a minute left and the clock winding down in Atlanta, former Raptor Vince Carter was just three points shy of reaching a career milestone of 25,000 points. Every play up the court was for Vince. Atlanta head coach Lloyd Pierce even called timeout, down 22 with 45 seconds to go just to draw up a play for Vince. That play consisted of Vince getting fouled just inside the three-point line where he made both free throws, needing one more point to achieve the milestone. The next and final trip down the court for Atlanta, with less then 10 seconds left in the game, Carter’s shot from 12-feet out did not fall. But an offensive rebound and cut to the rim from Vince sealed it all. It was only fitting that the future Hall of Famer ices his legacy in the NBA getting 25,000 points on a dunk against his former team where it all started.

Current Raptors players embraced the Vince with hugs and handshakes, showing their respects as well as Carter’s teammates and coaching staff which saw both teams walk off the court with smiles; win or lose.

The Raptors look to continue their winning ways when they close out the week against the Washington Wizards on Friday and Miami Heat on Sunday. 

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