The Toronto Raptors extended their win streak to 14 games with a close 119-118 victory over the Brooklyn Nets in a game that came down to the wire.
Fred VanVleet and Terence Davis stepped up as the starting backcourt with Kyle Lowry out of the lineup, fighting off a career-performance from the Nets' Caris LeVert.
For more on the game, we have you covered with some thoughts below.
1. Fred VanVleet gets out to a hot start
Without Kyle Lowry (whiplash) in the lineup, it was important that Fred VanVleet would fill his spot as the team's lead guard. Just as you would expect, Steady Freddy stepped into that role with ease, starting the game a perfect 4-for-4 from the field with 10 points in the first quarter.
Pull up on 'em then, @FredVanVleet pic.twitter.com/r5uyow235p- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) February 9, 2020
He was also clutch down the stretch, scoring five straight points when the Nets were trying to claw their way to a comeback win.
His name is @FredVanVleet and he's a baller pic.twitter.com/0TVIEURDHb- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) February 9, 2020
2. An unlikely lineup swings momentum
Without Lowry, Marc Gasol (hamstring) or Norman Powell (finger) available, the Raptors had to dive deeper into their bench than usual. They came out slow as a team, trailing by three points after the first quarter, until their bench gave them the boost of energy they needed.
A lineup of Patrick McCaw, Matt Thomas, Oshae Brissett, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Chris Boucher came in and held the Nets firing offence to zero points in a four minute span. They sparked a 11-0 run to take a 44-36 lead in the game and never looked back, as the Raptors never surrendered the lead again.
3. Matt Thomas' offence sparks the run
That second unit's defence was stout as a whole, but it was Matt Thomas' offence that got the team going.
The reserve sharpshooter went 3-for-3 from 3 for a quick nine points in the second frame to ignite the run. He scored 11 points in the second quarter alone, eclipsing his previous season-high of 10 points in just one quarter.
Find the shooter pic.twitter.com/Gx9OKBm6cf- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) February 9, 2020
Thomas finished with a career-high of 15 points shooting 6-for-9 from the field, just another moment proving the Raptors players are constantly ready to fill any role they're asked of.
4. Terence Davis was at it again
How did this kid go undrafted?
Terence Davis was stellar again in an increased role, stepping into the starting lineup going for 20 points shooting 7-for-15 from the field with five 3-pointers. He got hot in the third quarter, scoring 11 of his 20 points in the frame burying three 3s to keep Toronto in front.
Keep shooting, @TerenceDavisJr, keep shooting pic.twitter.com/jde4xpkGxS- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) February 9, 2020
Davis would also finish with eight boards, one assist and a steal, doing a little bit of everything in 30 minutes of playing time.
5. Career-game from Caris LeVert
Caris LeVert has had his career plagued with injuries but whenever he can stay on the floor and is able to get into a rhythm, he's been terrific. This game was a great example of that, as LeVert went for a career-high 37 points to nearly will the Nets back into the game.
GO OFF THEN CARIS.- Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) February 9, 2020
STRAP IN, BROOKLYN. pic.twitter.com/0t9CIEvkYj
He suffered a gruesome leg injury that sidelined him last season and this season, it was a nagging thumb injury that required surgery. Since he's returned to the court he's been solid, but he's really turned things up a notch as of late.
He had scored 23 and 29 points in the games prior to this one, averaging 29.7 points per game over his last three.
6. The streak continues
Yes, I'm talking about the win streak, but there's something else too.
The Raptors have extended their historic, franchise-best win streak to 14 games following this nail-biter over the Nets. But in terms of another streak, the Raptors have now beaten the Nets 10 times in a row in Toronto.
Feb. 4, 2015 was the last time the Nets beat the Raptors in Canada, in a game where Kevin Garnett was on the Brooklyn roster, Jarrett Jack was the Nets' leading scorer with 24 points and Terrence Ross was Toronto's leading scorer with 23 points.
7. "Haha" or "LOL"
No, this is not game analysis, but can this team be any more likable? Earlier this week it was "What about scarves?" During a timeout in the second quarter, the Raptors debuted this video on the jumbotron which will surely give you a laugh and make you realize just how funny this team is.
The great debate- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) February 9, 2020
'Haha' or 'Lol', what's your go-to? pic.twitter.com/DNZ0IBroSs
8. What's next for the Raptors?
With the win, Toronto advances to 39-14 with a two-game lead over the Boston Celtics for second place in the East. The Raptors will host the Minnesota Timberwolves and their new point guard D'Angelo Russell on Monday.
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