Raptors Survive Furious Nets Comeback, Hold onto Win 14th Straight
After controlling the majority of the games, things got a little bit dicey in the winding seconds of Saturday night’s contest.
On a night in which the Raptors were forced to play without three key rotation pieces, including All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry, head coach Nick Nurse unloaded the bench in hopes of surviving the second night of the back-to-back. The Brooklyn Nets were able to make things interesting in the fourth quarter, putting together a furious comeback, but with a clutch defensive stand from OG Anunoby, the Raptors were able to hold on for a nail-biting 119-118 victory.
The win streak lives on and is now at 14 straight, as the injury-riddled reigning champions continue to roll.
“At this point, I think we’re experienced enough in that realm, unfortunately. We’ve had a ton of guys out this year,” said Fred VanVleet, who finished the night with a team-high 29 points. “So, we don’t really think about it. It’s just more opportunity for a guy like Terence to get some starting minutes, obviously myself to be a primary ball-handler most of the game. Young guys have got to step up and make the most out of the situation, find a way to get a win, and move on to the next one.”
On a night in which the Raptors heavily depended on their depth, it was the names at the far end of the bench who stepped up, including Matt Thomas, Chris Boucher, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and Patrick McCaw.
“Those guys can play, man,” said VanVleet, commending the work of the Raptors second unit. “I feel like we’ve had this conversation five to 10 times this year. And it’s a good thing. Every time they step up and they play well, people are surprised, right? Because they’re at the end of the bench. But you’ve just got to wait for your turn, wait for your opportunity.
“Those guys have been good for us all year. And to do it on consistent nights, yesterday and today, is special. That’s what we need out of those guys.”
The Raptors continued resilience and excellent level of play even earned praising from Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson.
“Incredible depth. Gasol’s out, this guy’s out, this guy’s out. That’s a true sign of not only a good basketball team but a good program — when you can have the injuries they’ve sustained and go deep into your roster. You’re going 11th man, 12th man,” Atkinson said following the loss. “They have young guys that are deep in their roster that have helped them win games. That’s how you go on a long streak in this league. You can’t just do it with your top five or your top six — you’ve got to be deep. They are deep. They’re playing great basketball.”
Improving to 39-14, the Raptors will look to keep things rolling on Monday as the new-look Minnesota Timberwolves arrive to the Scotiabank Arena.