Down but Not Out

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Depleted Toronto Raptors Overcome Beal’s Brilliant Performance

In the latest instalment of the “never underestimate the heart of a champion” theme, the depleted Toronto Raptors survived an absolute onslaught on Friday night.

Despite 37 points from Bradley Beal and 26 points from Ish Smith, the Toronto Raptors held onto their first quarter lead throughout, winning by a score of 122-118. With Fred VanVleet back in the fold, the undermanned Raptors overcame a top-5 NBA offense with Pascal Siakam, Norman Powell, and Marc Gasol all on the self with various injuries.

“Any win is tough in this league, especially when you’re missing half your team,” said head coach Nick Nurse.

Refusing to quit, the Raptors had six players finish in double-figures. Kyle Lowry led the pack with 26 points and 9 assists, while VanVleet neared a triple-double with 18 points, nine boards, and eight assists. Stepping in for the injured Gasol, Ibaka poured in 23 points and 10 boards in the win.

“Serge is a starter,” VanVleet said. “He took the sacrifice to come off the bench for the betterment of our team, but he’s still a starting-caliber big in this league and a very good one at that.”

Friday marked Ibaka’s third double-double in his past four games.

“He’s feeling good about himself,” Lowry said. “We just need him to play at that level.”

Improving to 20-8, the Raptors will continue to play without key rotational pieces. Unfortunately, the road gets tougher from here as their next four games will be against teams in playoff position.

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