The streak ends, but the night is far from over for the Toronto Raptors. On Wednesday, the team snapped their 9-game losing skid against the Denver Nuggets with a 135-111 win.
Jamal Murray scored 20 points in 34 minutes of action, while Michael Porter added 19 points on 53.8%. Nikola Jokic, who has averaged 27 points per game this season, was held to 20 points and 10 rebounds in the Nuggets 18th loss of the season.
For Toronto, it was an offensive onslaught from the tip. Pascal Siakam led all players with 27 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists. He set the tone early with 20 points at the half and seemed to carry himself with purpose and intensity. In his 5th game back, he is showing signs of regaining his stride.
During his media availability, Siakam was asked about the words exchanged between him and coach Nick Nurse. “If you’re serious about winning [and you lose 9 games in a row], it’s not gonna be fun”, he told reporters of the ‘altercation’ after the teams loss to the Cavaliers. Whatever was said seemed to light a fire under Siakam, as he exercised those frustrations Wednesday on the court.
OG Anunoby continued his solid return with 23 points and 6 rebounds. He scored 15 of his points from beyond the arc. In Wednesday’s win, Toronto set a new franchise record with 24 made 3’s. They shot 50% from deep, while holding the Nuggets to 33%. During their 9-game skid, the Raptors allowed teams to shoot 40% from beyond the arc, giving up an average of 119.8 points in those losses.
In the win, the Raptors capitalized on fast break opportunities, outscoring the Nuggets 16-2. Fred VanVleet had 19 points and Norman Powell shot an efficient 8 of 12 from the field, finishing with 22 points in 24 minutes. As one of the longest remaining tenured Raptors, Powell has emerged as a consistent offensive threat. He is having a breakout season, in a year that has taken its toll on many players. With his solid year, Powell may have played his way out of Toronto.
It was a great team win that was overshadowed by the looming NBA trade deadline. While the team was focused on snapping their losing streak, media and fans have been focused on possible moves.
When asked about being traded, Powell maintained that his focus is on what he can control and living with whatever happens. Although he understands it is a business, he provided some insight into his feelings. “My roots are here” he said, while adding he would love to stay in Toronto.
As Kyle Lowry left the court, there was a strange sense of the unknown. Looking directly at the camera, he threw up a couple of peace signs and walked into the locker room. Was that Lowry’s final game as a Raptor? Addressing the elephant in the room, he told reporters, “Tonight was kinda weird”. But despite the uncertainty, he knows everything will be alright. “Whatever will be, will be”, he said. Lowry finished the night with 8 points, 9 assists and 5 rebounds.
592 games and 1 Championship later, Kyle Lowry is Toronto’s leader in assists (4206), 3-pt field goals (1488) and steals (867). On March 25th, also his 35th birthday, we will learn how Lowry’s story continues.
Next up.. Toronto faces the 29-14 Phoenix Suns. Tip off is 7:30pm EASTERN at Amalie Arena.