Tonight was the night we’ve all been waiting for! No, not Friday! POTENTIAL PIZZA PARTY NIGHT.
Confused? Well a little while ago Darko Rajaković promised the team he’d buy them all dinner when they won three games in a row. This sparked a ton of jokes about a pizza party, and well... tonight the Raptors went into the game against Sacramento with two wins under their loosened, pizza-ready belts.
Tonight also marked the true beginning of the Raptors’ West Coast road trip, an annual tradition that messes up all of our sleep schedules with 10PM tip offs. If you’re reading this in this morning, mood.
Yet there is excitement, as the two previous wins have come as a direct result to the acquisition of Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett. With a real point guard and a roster shake-up, the Raptors are playing some promising basketball.
Quickley and Barrett were again in the starting lineup along with Jakob Poeltl, Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam. Otto Porter Jr and Garty Trent Jr were both listed as OUT with injuries — Porter with a knee sprain and Trent with a quad contusion.
Sacramento on the other hand has had an exiting few years themselves. They started Domantas Sabonis, Harrison Barnes, Keegan Murray, De’Aaron Fox, and Chris Duarte.
It didn’t seem like pizza was on the mind in the first quarter for Toronto, as the let the Kings get up by nine after the first quarter. Domantas Sabonis got off to an incredible start with 12 points and seven rebounds in the first 12 minutes alone.
On the other hand, RJ Barrett led the Raptors with seven points after one quarter.
The Kings fast paced play seemed to overwhelm the Raptors and they were not grabbing defensive rebounds.
Sacramento is also an incredible three-point shooting team, which — even with the improvement that came with Barrett and Quickley — is still a sore spot for the Toronto Raptors.
In the second quarter, the Raptors started to claw back with a 10-2 run. The Kings did not let up though, and their speed was an issue as they continued to blow by the Raptors. Chris Boucher had a quick three rebounds to help the Raptors be more protective of their glass.
What followed was a massive run by Sacramento, led by Keegan Murray, to get the Kings up 20 by halftime.
It’s funny because the big story pregame was how the Raptors and Kings trade discussions had ended — supposedly because the Kings were unwilling to part with Murray. Now who is cooking them? Murray.
I guess we can see why they want to keep him.
Sacramento was up 77-57 at halftime.
The Kings spent most of the third giving their dedicated fans a show, but the Raptors did go on a 22-9 run to end the quarter. With that, they made up for half of their deficit and were able to end only down by 10 points total.
Sabonis was one assist away from a triple double at the end of three, absolutely going to work. He is the kind of player that can operate at a high level anywhere on the court. His size makes him excellent in the paint, but he can shoot just as well as anyone.
Toronto fixed their defensive matchups in the third quarter as well, ensuring not as many guys were literally blown by.
The Raptors defense looks much better in the 2nd half -- because the matchups make more sense!— Esfandiar Baraheni (@JustEsBaraheni) January 6, 2024
Dennis on Fox, Scottie on Sabonis -- yes, good
Dennis Schröder also played incredibly coming off the bench for Toronto, and he had 15 points going into the fourth.
That’s why you need a guy like Dennis coming off the bench, his veteran presence and ability to score helps the Raptors win those minutes while some other their starters sits. He has shown in the last few weeks that his role on this team is as a bench leader.
The Raptors continued their comeback in the fourth quarter, and with five minutes to go were only down seven points.
Our Raptors did complete their signature comeback and brought themselves within one possession of Sacramento. Jakob Poeltl did foul out, leaving Scottie Barnes to guard Sabonis — who achieved a triple double early in fourth.
Then Sabonis fouled out, which was fun.
But then our new Raptor Immanuel Quickley missed the shot to tie it up, and the Raptors lost 135-130.
While the Raptors surely made it interesting down the stretch, it was not enough to secure them the win or the pizza party, and they wipe their winning streak clean.
Overall it was a decent game for Toronto, with eight of their nine active players scoring in double digits. It just was not enough to keep up and a few misses cost them.
It’s also hard to win a game when your opponent is shooting 55.5% from three point range in comparison to you team’s 35.1% from three.
Highest scoring Raptors were as follows:
Scottie Barnes: 20 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 steal
Immanuel Quickley: 20 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds
Pascal Siakam: 18 points, 9 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block
Dennis Schröder: 18 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block
We must now wipe the hopes of a pizza party aside and prepare for the next slate of games. The Raptors will play the Golden State Warriors on Sunday at 8:30pm (Toronto time, bless a Sunday early start), before heading to LA for a back-to-back against the Lakers/Clippers.