The Toronto Raptors get another beautiful win against the Charlotte Hornets at home! Let's keep the good vibes rolling!
The Toronto Raptors took care of business last night, beating the Charlotte Hornets 132-120. Toronto's resiliency was apparent as they kept their composure and kept pushing against the Hornets. Pascal Siakam had an impressive night with 28 points, while Gary Trent Jr. scored 24, and O.G. Anunoby matched his career-high six 3-pointers, accounting for 22 points. Their shooting efficiency resulted in 20 3-pointers in 44 attempts, which they have been struggling with all year. Poise and hustle led to their 18 offensive rebounds compared to Charlotte's 6, resulting in a decisive 20-4 advantage in second-chance points. The Raptors’ victory cements their place as a force to be reckoned with, putting a cheerful stamp on the evening's game.
The Raptors won their fourth straight home meeting with the Hornets and reached the midway point of their regular season at 18-23 with consecutive wins for the sixth time this season - although they've yet to win three games in a row. Maybe, this is our time to get hot and make a run for the playoffs.
With all these achievements, Fred VanVleet joked, "Let's have a party!" This is undoubtedly how we know this is stereotypical Raptors basketball - squandering away no opportunity and consistently coming through when it counts!
The Hornets were missing that extra potency that the Raptors seemed to have in them last night as they played with fantastic cohesion and fluidity throughout the game.
Nick Nurse's experiment with the bench pays off!
Coach Nick Nurse put out an "experimental" lineup featuring Precious Achiuwa, Chris Boucher and Christian Koloko — all listed as centers — and the results were astounding! The trio scored 31 points off the bench, which is more than double what the Raptors have managed to average over their past five games (13.4 points). Not only that, but they brought energy and momentum to both the second and fourth quarters - helping maintain and build on leads, respectively. On top of that, they contributed 17 rebounds too!
Astonishingly, Coach Nick Nurse made a bold move. Unveiling an "experimental" lineup that featured Precious Achiuwa, Chris Boucher and Christian Koloko — all playing center and coming off the bench — the Raptors astounded onlookers. The trio scored 31 points from the sidelines — a feat more than double what the team had been averaging over five games (13.4 points).
Not only that, but they lit up both quarters of the match with their contagious energy and momentum: helping maintain leads in the second quarter and then building one up in the fourth! An extra 17 rebounds were also added to their name as well.
There's no denying that this experimental move worked wonders last night! A testament to Coach Nurse's uncanny strategic intelligence, it's safe to say he certainly outdid himself on this occasion. It was a much-needed boost for a team whose bench has been near the bottom of the league regarding scoring production.
The combination of playing Gary Trent with the second unit is working and needs to continue. G-money leads the charge with his go-to scoring prowess, while Malachi Flynn ensures a steady stream of offence by breaking down defences. Chris Boucher strides off the bench to contribute reliable pick-and-pop threes when needed. Precious Achiuwa commits boundless energy into chaotic plays on both ends that can be efficiently directed when guided appropriately.
All put together, it's taken a while, but this second unit is finally starting to live up to its potential. With each player finding their place in the rotation and Nurse exercising patience as they adjust and develop, we should expect even more impressive performances. Last night served as a reminder of what this Raptors team can be when their players complement each other's skillsets. Something that we haven't said too often this year "The Raptors bench was great last night!"
Pascal and Gary Trent are carrying the Raptors at the moment!
Instantly, Siakam looked in prime form. His agility and skill running an offence had everyone buzzing. He navigated a Jaden McDaniels double team with ease, launching himself into the heart of action armed with speed and precision. With crossovers and change-of-pace drives, he kept opponents on their toes time after time. In one spellbinding quarter alone, he scored 14 points off 6-of-7 shots. But what really made Siakam shine was his ability to set up open shots for others—a selflessness that created offensive opportunities for his teammates.
It was invigorating to watch—as if each move tuned us into something bigger than we had ever seen. Siakam showed how basketball could be played with swagger, flair and courage all wrapped up at once.
Gary is the other guy for us now. He has been elevating the Toronto Raptors to new heights with his dynamic play as a scorer and leader working as the lone starter with the bench unit. His ability to finish plays off screens by either knocking down threes or drawing fouls is remarkable, often leaving defenders baffled as they struggle to keep up with his herky-jerky floats. With each game, he displays new levels of skill with his knack for finding open looks, and it's clear that he is single-handedly anchoring the second unit. His outstanding performance has not gone unnoticed - Trent Jr. is truly carrying the Raptors alongside Pascal.
Reality dictates that what worked on Tuesday night doesn't guarantee a win or even an equivalent performance against the Charlotte Hornets again on Thursday. Change is inevitable, and the Raptors must be prepared to adjust their playbook and tactics to get the second game on this back-to-back set.