In the midst of what has been a challenging season, the Toronto Raptors earned a hard-fought victory over the Brooklyn Nets by a score of 114-103 on Wednesday night. The win marks the fourth straight victory for Toronto, while the loss gives Brooklyn their second defeat in their last three.
Both teams entered Wednesday’s contest on opposite notes, with the Raptors finally fielding a healthy lineup, and the Nets missing some of their biggest pieces. From injuries and rest, Toronto hasn’t had their big names in the lineup much these past few weeks, but Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry and OG Anunoby all returned in Toronto’s impressive win. Brooklyn was without both Kevin Durant and James Harden once again, leaving Kyrie Irving to rally the troops in their absence.
For Toronto, Siakam led the way with 27 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists, while OG Anunoby contributed with 25 points of his own. Khem Birch was a bright spot for the Raps, getting the start and playing 24 minutes, grabbing 7 crucial boards in the process. Unfortunately for the Raptors, their other Canadian Chris Boucher left the game in the third quarter with a left knee sprain and did not return. He will be evaluated in the coming days, but the Montreal native’s absence will certainly prove costly for a Toronto team that needs all the depth they can get at the 5.
As expected, the story of the night for Brooklyn was the Kyrie Irving show, as the other two superstars sat out. Irving dropped 28 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists on 10/21 shooting and was the majority of the team’s offence. Bruce Brown took advantage of his opportunities off the bench for Brooklyn with a spectacular individual performance, scoring 21 points and grabbing 14 rebounds in 30 minutes of work.
Rebounding has been a large issue for the Raptors this season, but the arrival of Birch and Freddie Gillespie has proven valuable and given them some big man depth. Toronto was outrebounded 50-48, but the goal this season has often been to just remain competitive on the boards, and considering some of the glass threats Brooklyn has, the rebounding game was perfect tonight for Toronto. The Raptors spread the wealth with 23 team assists, and forced 13 turnovers on the evening.
Brooklyn came out firing in the first quarter, opening up a 36-23 lead, but the second and third were all Toronto, as the Raptors lead by Siakam and Anunoby regained their form, opening up a double-digit lead of their own. From there, the Raptors had to hold off a late surge from Irving and company to secure their 25th win of the season.
In other news around the league, Chicago lost to Cleveland, putting the Raptors back into the final play-in tournament spot at the end of the night. The battle for the 10th seed will consist of the Bulls, Raptors and Wizards, and will likely remain competitive until the last few weeks of the season.
Moving forward, the Raptors will look to make it 5 in a row against the New York Knicks and Canadian RJ Barrett, who’s having a stellar second season, on Saturday the April 24th, while the shorthanded Nets will look to bounce back against Boston on Friday night.
Siakam – 29 PTS 9 REB 7 AST
Anunoby – 25 PTS 3 REB 1 AST
Lowry – 14 PTS 7 REB 5 AST
VanVleet – 17 PTS 3 REB 5 AST
Irving – 28 PTS 11 REB 8 AST
Brown Jr. – 21 PTS 14 REB 1 AST
Harris – 14 PTS 4 REB 1 AST
Jordan – 7 PTS 12 REB 2 AST