Toronto Raptors last lost a game on January 13, by the barest of the margin as San Antonio Spurs got away with a one-point 104-105 win at Scotiabank Arena. And it was not Friday.
But these days, the Raptors are not tinkering with the margins. They are beating teams comfortably, with most of their wins by double-digits, and forcing the NBA pundits and fans alike to assess their title credentials.
But Nick Nurse won’t be fazed away by how NBA experts see his team as long as the Raptors continue to win. The champions won again, for the 15th time, a new franchise record in Canada across all sports (NBA, NHL, MLB and CFL), after beating Minnesota Timberwolves 137-126 win at Scotiabank Arena. The victory toppled Calgary Stampeders’ (football team, but not soccer) record of 14th consecutive win they achieved in the 2016 season.
Raptors’ leading scorer with 23.4 points per game this season, Pascal Siakam, scored 14 of his game-high 34 points efforts in the fourth quarter, and also had six rebounds and five assists.
Kyle Lowry was back in the starting five after sitting out the 119-118 win over Brooklyn Nets with whiplash and enjoyed the night with a double-double 27 points, and 11 rebounds, while adding 7 assists to the efforts. Serge Ibaka missed the match due to the flu, with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson getting a start at center. The 25-year-old didn’t disappoint as he ended with his season-high 21 points.
But the biggest highlight for the champions was OG Anunoby’s performance. Though he has been solid with his defence this season, his overall contribution has been questioned due to his dwindling offensive record. But against Wolves, he was immense on both ends of the court, and clocked a magnificent double-double with 25 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. He had 3 steals and made one block.
D’Angelo Russell dropped 22 points on his Timberwolves debut, but Karl-Anthony Towns topped the scoring charts for the Wolves with 23 points, along with team-high 10 rebounds. Russell was traded away by the Golden State Warriors on trade deadline day, along with Omari Spellman, and Jacob Evans, in exchange for Andrew Wiggins, a 2021 protected first-round pick and a 2021 second-round pick.
With the win, the Raptors improved to 4014 on the season, and remain second in the Eastern Conference power rankings.