The Raptors are good as hell. Even when they lose the odd game here or there, it will be important to not lose sight of that. This is the most talented team ever assembled in Toronto, and it won’t last forever. So rather than getting hung up on the things the Raptors do poorly, this column is designed to appreciate the silver linings even when the score line doesn’t favour the good guys. There are only so many games in a season — why not enjoy all 82?
This is What Didn’t Suck for the Raptors’ 106-103 loss to the Nuggets on Monday.
Delon Wright’s season has not been of the ideal persuasion. Stuck squarely behind the eight ball as a groin injury kept him out of the first six games save for five unsure minutes, and thrown into a jagged-fitting bench unit trying to work its shit out ever since, Wright’s numbers and have slipped noticeably. He’s also been usurped by Pascal Siakam and his spin move as the Raptors most prolific producer of sweet highlights.
Monday night’s loss to Denver was a tremendous buzzkill once the very good ref capped off a strong, game-dominating performance with that off-ball foul call against Serge Ibaka. But in the minutes that preceded that dour finish, Wright offered a counter to Siakam’s reign as the Raptors’ king of funk.
Bench minutes aren’t the beacon of light and good they were last season. More than anything, they loom. When the starters’ stint nears its end in the first and third quarters, orifices clench. Not so on Monday, though. With the Raptors starters hanging tight but unable to dent the Nuggets’ lead, it was the reserves that moved Toronto into striking distance in the third quarter’s final seconds, with Wright leading the charge and reminding everyone how just lethal his quirky handle is in the process.
Wright followed that finish up with a made three (his season percentage is up to 46 percent, by the way), and carried over the good times into the fourth. This delightful finish chipped in to a 10-0 Raptors run that brought Toronto within one.
Delon Wright if fun to watch. He's got a funky rhythm to his game. pic.twitter.com/kwLxYTVUAz— Greg Brueck-Cassoli (@GregCassoli) December 4, 2018
Wright subbed out shortly after this flourish, and didn’t get any more run (though he probably should have!). Perhaps that trust from coach Nick Nurse will come with more spurts of usefulness like the one he partook in on Monday. Wright, with his length and play-making and steadily-improving shooting, will be of Livingstonian importance to the Raptors as the stakes get heavier later in the season.
The process of getting to that point will take time as Wright and the team iron out their ongoing inconsistencies. But at least Monday proved he’ll still keep spitting out sweet basketball jazz along the road to becoming his fully actualized self.