The Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors played a fast-paced, high-scoring game on Friday night, one that was a treat for fans of NBA offense. Unfortunately the Raptors ran out of steam down the stretch, and the Warriors used a barrage of threes to slam the door. The 129-117 loss moves Toronto to 1-1 on their current 7-game road trip.
Trailing 107-105 with six minutes to go, the Raptors let Klay Thompson get free in transition for a deep three that pushed Golden State’s lead to five. The Raptors never got closer than four the rest of the way, and Stephen Curry, Thompson, and Dante DiVincenzo each drained threes in the final three minutes to seal the deal.
Curry led all scorers with 35; he was also 4-for-8 from downtown, and dished 11 assists. Thompson drained six threes, and finished with 29 points and eight rebounds.
Fred VanVleet led the Raptors in scoring with 28, including five threes; he also had 10 assists. Pascal Siakam had a terrible shooting night, missing 18 of his 26 shots; he finished with 21 points. Scottie Barnes chipped in with 24 points, six rebounds and five assists.
In perhaps more concerning news, the Raptors lost O.G. Anunoby to what the team is calling a “left wrist sprain” late in the second quarter. He’ll undergo further testing on Saturday.
The track meet started early, and neither team had trouble scoring; the Warriors ran their offense precisely, getting to the hoop on multiple backcuts, while VanVleet and Siakam each drained early threes. With the Raps leading 13-8, Barnes hauled in a defensive rebound and went coast-to-coast for an and-1, prompting Steve Kerr to call for time.
Curry answered after the timeout to cut Toronto’s lead to 16-10, then Kevon Looney scored on another backcut as the Raptors sold out to take the deep ball away from Curry and Thompson. The pace remained high through the first, but the Raptors maintained their lead — until VanVleet threw a poor entry pass to Barnes that was deflected by Curry, who then made an acrobatic save to keep it alive… and then made an even more acrobatic layup to tie the score at 31. JaMychal Green soon gave the Warriors a 34-33 lead, but a VanVleet and-1 gave Toronto the 36-34 lead after 1.
The Raptors were 5-for-7 from three-point range in the period, but the best thing about the first quarter was seeing Fred VanVleet move. That sound like an odd thing to say, but VanVleet was looking like he was four years younger, moving with speed and deftly handling the rock through traffic. He drained three threes in the period. Steve Kerr even briefly threw out a box-and-one on VanVleet!
The second quarter opened with a Barnes-to-Precious Achiuwa alley-oop dunk, a monster finish over JaMychal Green (and was also Barnes’ fourth assist); Chris Boucher then swatted a Green three-point attempt out of bounds.
THE FIND: @ScottBarnes561— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) January 28, 2023
THE FINISH: @PreciousAchiuwa pic.twitter.com/1PbE51Eu5O
The evening’s scary moment occurred a moment later. With the Raptors up 41-38, JaMychal Green fouled O.G. Anunoby hard on a drive, sending Anunoby tumbling to the ground — where he landed right on his left arm. Anunoby then shot his two free throws, hitting one, before heading back to the locker room; he did not return.
Anunoby’s absence prompted Jack Armstrong to say the Raptors would “have to go a little deeper” into the their bench, and bring in Thad Young, which of course is hilarious because actually playing your eighth man in the first half should not ever be considered “going deep” into your bench! In any event, Chris Boucher provided a spark following Anunoby’s departure, scoring five straight to give the Raptors a six-point lead, 54-48.
But the Warriors are never far behind, and a Thompson three followed by a Draymond Green baby hook cut it back to 1. Thompson soon broke a 55-55 tie with a deep three, only for Gary Trent Jr. to get it right back with a triple of his own. Draymond Green broke a 62-62 tie with a single free throw with 2 seconds left before halftime, and Golden State took the 63-62 lead into the break.
There were plenty of stories to discuss from the first half, including the two sizzling offenses, Toronto’s horrific transition D and Anunoby getting hurt. But Siakam’s rough first half was a headliner for me — especially with the Raps still scoring 62 points! Siakam was just 3-for-15 in the half, with multiple looks bouncing off the back iron. To add insult to injury, he only managed two assists, too, despite the rest of the team shooting 56%!
Precious Achiuwa started the second half for Anunoby; he promptly scored on a putback, then slammed home a dunk from a sweet VanVleet dime a minute later.
What a DIME @FredVanVleet ➡️ @PreciousAchiuwa pic.twitter.com/cUnsLMqId4— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) January 28, 2023
Though the Raptors weren’t shooting the ball well otherwise early in the third, they were able to force multiple Golden State turnovers — three in the first 2.5 minutes of the third — giving them the possession advantage.
Siakam then managed to drop in two straight buckets, which was nice to see, but the transition defense remained a problem — the Warriors ran at every opportunity, and the Raptors were consistently a step or five slow getting back. That eventually led to a Curry three from the corner on a secondary break that gave the Warriors a 76-75 lead.
The Raptors responded with a 6-0 run — a Siakam and-1 plus a Trent three (assisted by Siakam). Did you think the Warriors wouldn’t respond? Of course they did! They scored five straight of their own! And so it went: A Fred VanVleet 3 — his first points since the fist quarter — soon broke an 83-83 tie, but Jonathan Kuminga responded, prompting Nick Nurse — probably exhausted, himself, from watching the pace — called for time. That didn’t stem the tide — the game simply turned into a Kuminga-VanVleet shootout, as they each scored six straight to keep it knotted at 92. Curry then dropped a miracle three with 40 seconds left, Achiuwa scored on a drive, then Kumina dropped another there to give the Warriors a 98-94 lead heading into the fourth (and prompting me to seek out a cigarette).
The teams finally slowed down to start the final quarter — it took them more than a minute-and-a-half to score! Unfortunately for the Raptors, it was the Warriors who struck first: a Thompson three that gave Golden Stare their largest lead, 101-94.
Soon trailing by 8, Nick Nurse needed to bring Fred VanVleet back after only about two minutes of rest. A Siakam and-1 brought the Raptors back within five, and after the teams traded a couple more buckets, Armstrong broke into a fitting rendition of Springsteen’s Born to Run. And the teams kept coming! A VanVleet triple cut the the lead to 107-105, but a Thompson three stretched it back to five, prompting Nick Nurse to call another timeout — and deliver a harsh-looking rebuke to the officials, who, Nurse felt, weren’t calling the game both ways. (He may have had a point.)
Still, the Raptors weren’t helping themselves; when they did get calls, they couldn’t hit their free throws, ending the night an unimpressive 13-for-21 from the charity stripe.
Barnes did manage to cut the lead to six, 114-108, and then blocked a Thompson shot out of bounds that led to a shot-clock violation. Unfortunately, Barnes turned the ball over on the next play, as he and Siakam got their wires crossed — and Curry drained a dagger three the other way to push the lead to nine. Thompson and DiVincenzo each added one more as the Raptors faded away down the stretch.
The Raptors are traveling to Portland to take on the Trail Blazers Saturday night.