The Toronto Raptors are an excellent basketball team. They have two All-Stars, the second-best average margin of victory in the league, and now a 20-8 record.
The Brooklyn Nets, on the other hand, are a haphazardly put together band of misfits, with a host of players that would have a hard time cracking a rotation on a contender, and now sit at 7-20.
The Raptors won the game between these two on Tuesday night by a score of 116-104, just like they were supposed to. This marked Toronto’s 15th straight game scoring over 100 points, the longest active streak in the NBA.
Of course, it’s not like this one was going to be all that exciting in the first place, given the disparity in talent between the two teams. Still, the watchability factor dropped even more when it was announced that Patrick Patterson would sit out for the Raptors for a scheduled day of rest, while Brook Lopez — Brooklyn’s closest thing to a star — would do the same for the Nets.
The first half went mostly as you’d expect, with the Raps outscoring the Nets 29-23 in the game’s first frame, and then 35-23 in the second. Toronto took a 64-46 lead into halftime, after shooting 54.5% from the field, 5-for-9 from deep, and 11-for-12 from the free throw line over the first 24 minutes.
Not much to talk about to that point, but there were a few notable highlight plays in the half.
First, DeMar DeRozan’s “Christmas Slam” (as affectionately dubbed by Raptors play-by-play man, Matt Devlin):
Jonas Valanciunas and Lucas Nogueira were on the floor together for the first time this season in the first quarter, but Raptors coach Dwane Casey pulled the leash after only one possession and less than a minute of play. The pairing was basically unstoppable, though, small sample size be damned:
Nogueira and Valanciunas were a +2 in under a minute together, +4 if you count Powell's FTs. Never split them up again.— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) December 21, 2016
And Norman Powell re-created his dunk heard across the nation from last year’s postseason:
The Nets played a bit more evenly in the second half, but the Raptors kept them at arm’s length the whole way.
The Raps outscored the Nets 27-26 in the third quarter, taking a 91-72 lead into the final 12 minutes, hinting at the possibility of some quality garbage time.
The Nets hung around a bit, but the crowd had their “We want Bruno!” chants answered when Bruno Caboclo and Fred VanVleet came in with 2:28 remaining in the fourth (on the same day as playing for the Raptors 905, interestingly enough).
Fred VanVleet and Bruno Caboclo are the first @Raptors players to play in both an NBA D-League and NBA game on the same day.— RaptorsMR (@RaptorsMR) December 21, 2016
Bruno and VanVleet combined for a rebound and a foul and were each a -3 in those two and a half minutes. Good times.
The Raptors got contributions across the board during the 116-104 victory, with Kyle Lowry leading all scorers with 23 points on 8-for-12 shooting (including 3-for-5 from deep), to go with four rebounds, eight assists, three steals, and a block.
Norman Powell chipped in a season-high 21 points off the bench, with three rebounds and a whopping five steals, DeMarre Carroll scored 17 points, DeRozan added 15 on an off 6-for-20 shooting night, and Jonas Valanciunas double-doubled with 10 points and 14 rebounds.
On the other side of the floor, former Raptors Luis Scola and Anthony Bennett both played in the game.
Raptors staffer to Scola pre-game: "I wish you were still here"— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) December 21, 2016
Scola: "So do I"
Anything else worth mentioning about the Nets? Not really.
The Raptors now head out on a six-game, 15,609-kilometre road trip, starting on Friday night against the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City.
Until then, what did you take away from this particular win?