Toronto Raptors Win 15th Straight, Set Canadian Sporting Record
An under-the-weather Serge Ibaka wasn’t around tonight, but what the Toronto Raptors were able to do in the second half of a 137-126 victory was truly art.
“I think we can win right?” Raptors coach Nick Nurse commented following the win. “I think these guys have proven enough that they can win. We’ve have a lot of injuries this year, but they just keep stepping up and playing and we’ve just gotten used to it.
“You at least have to go out and give a great effort, give yourself a chance to win, and don’t let them play harder than you. If you think you’re under-talented or undersized or whatever, then you’ve got to take your energy and toughness up a notch and think we’ve done that most nights.”
Behind an offensive explosion from the starting five, the Raptors picked up their 15th straight victory, marking the longest consecutive win streak in Canadian sporting history. OG Anunoby finished the evening with a career-high 25 points and 12 rebounds, Kyle Lowry pitched in with 27 points, 11 assists, and seven boards, while fellow All-Star Pascal Siakam dropped a game-high 34 points in the win. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had a big night stepping in for the unavailable Marc Gasol and Ibaka, adding 21 points in the win.
Despite the high number of injuries, the Raptors simply continue treading along playing tenacious defense and finding offence from just about anybody who is physically available to suit up. Between that and their ability to buy into what Nurse and his coaching staff preach on a nightly basis, the Raptors show they can compete with any team in the league.
“We’ve barely had our team and we’ve always had to adjust and figure it out,” Siakam said. “Guys know now that you have to be ready every day. You never know what’s going to happen. Today you might be sitting on the bench and the next day you’re starting. That’s just got to be the mentality and I think everyone knows that.”
In the loss, D’Angelo Russell made his Minnesota Timberwolves debut, finishing with 22 points and five assists. A visibly disgruntled Karl-Anthony Towns led the way for the Wolves with 23 points, 10 boards and seven assists.
“There’s a reason they’ve won 15 games in a row,” said T’Wolves coach Ryan Saunders. “They play with a sense of urgency and have a great identity about them.”
The Raptors will close out the unofficial first half of the regular season on Wednesday against the Brooklyn Nets when they will hope to extend their win-streak to 16 straight.
“Obviously winning feels good. Everyone wants to win, so the fact we can go out there, play some basketball and have some fun — and you can see it out there: whenever anyone is doing great, everyone feels like they’re doing great,” Siakam said. “That’s just how we are and it feels good. It makes you want to keep winning but at the same time it’s just about us understanding what we need to work on and understanding what we need to get better at while having fun.”
The Raptors will get a much-needed nine break following Wednesday night’s contest.