Another one

The last time the Toronto Raptors played the Dallas Mavericks they recorded their biggest comeback in franchise history. On Monday night, the team picked up their biggest win of the season, 116-93, en route to their 3rd straight win.

Toronto had one of their best 4th quarters all year. They put up 35 points and took charge of the game with a 20-8 run. Kyle Lowry led the way with 23 points and 7 assists. He set the tone for the team in the second half, scoring 12 of his 23 points in the 3rd. He was active under the basket, grabbing 8 defensive rebounds.

When he is present on both ends of the floor, it trickles down to the team. OG Anunoby had another strong outing, picking up his first double-double of the season (13 points and 11 rebounds). He was also a difference maker on defence, with 2 steals and 1 block.

After the game, Anunoby was asked about what has changed in the last 5 days that has resulted in the teams last 3 wins. “Playing hard for longer stretches”, he told TSN’s Kate Beirness. “We all have each others back” he continued, when asked about Fred VanVleet’s willingness to get a technical foul on a non-call against teammate Stanley Johnson. Johnson, who has been providing stellar defence was on the receiving end of an elbow by Luka Doncic. In 21 minutes off the bench, he scored 6 points had 3 rebounds and 1 blocked shot.

In the win, the Raptors held Doncic to 15 points in 35 minutes. In his previous 8 games, he averaged 28.5 points. He went 0 for 3 from behind the arc and had his worst shooting night of the season, going 4 for 11 from the field.

In his third game back from injury, Kristaps Porzingis had another solid outing. He led his team with 23 points in 31 minutes.

Toronto held Dallas to 38% from the field, forced 16 turnovers and converted 22 points off those turnovers. It was their most impressive win of the season, against a team with their sights set on another playoff birth. In January, the Raptors have averaged 14 more points, they’re making 81.3% of their free throws (versus 75.8% in December), and are shooting almost 5% better from deep.

The upward trend started in their first blowout win on the road and continued in the 1-point losses that followed. During this stretch, Nick Nurse may have found his 7 main rotation players. The task now is to determine who can be #8 and #9. One thing is for sure, he will continue to shuffle the rotations until he finds what works best for the team.

Game Note: Chris Boucher continues his breakout season. He recorded his 3rd double-double of the season with 21 points and 10 rebounds, along with 3 blocks. He has made more than two 3’s in 7 consecutive games. When you have the coaches trust, and you have the green light to be aggressive on offense, your game changes. Boucher is playing with confidence and has been the leader Toronto’s bench has needed.

Next up… Toronto faces Eastern conference foe, the Miami Heat. Tip off is 7:30pm EASTERN at Amalie Arena.

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