In their first game back since the All-Star break on Thursday night, the Toronto Raptors suffered a heartbreaking loss at home in Tampa to Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks. The nail-biting game’s fate was ultimately decided by a Tony Snell buzzer-beating 3-pointer, as the Hawks were trailing by two. Final score 121 – 120 Atlanta.
Toronto was forced once again to make do without the likes of OG Anunoby, Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam. However, head coach Nick Nurse and other members of his staff who had missed the last couple of games due to the NBA’s “Health and Safety Protocol” were back on the bench.
The Raptors mostly trailed for the entirety of the first half and truly seemed to struggle finding a rhythm. So far, they had lost both of the games in which those star starters had been ruled out.
It’s often said that the third quarter is when a basketball game can be truly decided. It really seemed in fact as if the Raptors suddenly had the game in hand. They shot outstandingly well coming out of the locker room and started building a lead throughout the 3rd.
In the ultimate act, the Hawks showed some true resilience. Trae Young finished with a whopping 37 points on 45.8% from the field, getting to the line 16 times and making 13 of those free throw attempts.
Kyle Lowry and his squad had the game in hand until they didn’t. Lowry in fact finished the game with 17 points, climbing the ladder to second all-time on the Raptors’ total point list, passing Chris Bosh and one spot behind his best friend DeMar DeRozan.
Norman Powell was yet again able to show out and give a clinic out there Thursday night despite the tough loss. He tallied 33 points on an efficient 11/20 from the field. Stanley Johnson, who started the game, put it a strong shift also with 11 points including 3 from beyond the arc.
Montreal’s Chris Boucher did everything he possibly could off the bench in order to keep newly appointed Interim Head Coach Nate McMillan’s squad at bay. He was able to rack up an impressive 29 points on 10/15 from the hardwood. For Boucher it was another incredibly encouraging outing for one of the leading candidates for the NBA 6th Man of the Year (although it seems Jordan Clarkson is running away with it at the moment.)
Nurse and his team will travel to Charlotte on Saturday in the first night of a back-to-back, where they will tip-off at 7:00 pm EST. against Lamelo Ball and the Hornets. The youngest Ball brother has been playing outstandingly well this season, even receiving some love earlier today from his franchise’s owner, Michal Jordan himself, and is certainly the unequivocal Rookie of the Year favorite.
It should be a fantastic matchup and hopefully the Raptors will see the return of some of their key members.
Written by Thomas Debost