The Toronto Raptors have won 11 of their last 12 games.
They tied the franchise record for consecutive wins, but couldn’t get over the hump and the streak snapped on Sunday with a seven-point loss to OKC. The loss was controversial, with some questionable calls near the end of the game which left a sour taste in the mouths of Raptors fans.
But let’s not forget that what Toronto did over the last month was really incredible.
It all started with a blowout win over the Detroit Pistons on Feb. 26 at the Air Canada Centre. The Bench Mob got some major minutes down the stretch and combined for 54 of the team’s total 123 points — and were making it look easy.
Utes out here havin' a ball. pic.twitter.com/2hVMCnrzZS
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) February 27, 2018
The Raps kept the ball rolling two days later with the 117-104 win over the Orlando Magic. In a game where Pascal Siakam had 14 points, Jakob Poeltl had 13 and Fred VanVleet had 12, it was a total team effort and you could tell they were clicking.
The icing on the cake? Plays like this one, where Siakam’s pesky defence resulted in a big slam on the other end of the floor thanks to an outlet by Steady Freddy and the alley-oop pass by Lowry. With less than 25 seconds left in the game, it was this hustle play that put the exclamation point on the victory: a statement that said that this team meant business.
The Washington Wizards were next up on the Raptors to-do list. The fourth-place Eastern Conference team was just coming off a loss from the Golden State Warriors, eager to bounce back, but the Raps had other plans.
They whizzed past the Wizards with a 102-95 win lead by DeMar DeRozan’s 23 points, and Kyle Lowry’s 29th defensive charge which put him in the top spot in the league for taking charges (he’s now currently third in the league in charges drawn).
It’s these small hustle-kind-of stats that differentiates the Raps from their opponents.
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) March 3, 2018
The poor Charlotte Hornets were the next team welcomed into the ACC.
Not only did Malcolm Miller get his first career start – replacing OG Anunoby who was out with an injury – but the Bench Mob put on a show for the home fans.
The one play that sticks out: Siakam’s insane volleyball spike block in the second quarter.
*cue jaw drop*
There was nothing pretty about the 15 turnovers Toronto committed or the 35 times they put Charlotte on the line, but Siakam’s block — well, that was beautiful.
When a next man tries to slide in your girls DMs. pic.twitter.com/gzUCfdq03A
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) March 4, 2018
The streak looked like it might come to an end during the March 6 game against the Hawks until the Raps turned it on in the fourth quarter, pulling away from Atlanta to earn the 106-90 victory.
Toronto allowed only 13 points by the Hawks in the final quarter and sunk 30 points themselves. The team was led by DeRozan who ended with 25 points. And this crazy switch-a-roo reverse lay-up says it all about how the ball was dropping for DeRozan that game; going 50 percent from the field.
Game six of the Raps’ streak was against the (very familiar) Detroit Pistons, but this time it was in their house and they weren’t going to just roll over and take the ‘L’. In fact, the Pistons took it into overtime.
Fred VanVleet (who had hit one of his nine shots previous to this last second play) stepped up and sank the game-winner with one second on the clock.
Yes, it’s crazy that DeRozan’s 42-point performance isn’t the highlight worth talking about — but it’s unselfishness and last second pass that will be remembered.
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) March 8, 2018
A post shared by Fred VanVleet (@fredvanvleet) on Mar 7, 2018 at 9:19pm PST
One of the most anticipated games of the year came to town when the top team in the west travelled to the ACC to the Raps (the top team in the east).
The Raptors snapped the Rockets’ 17-game win streak with an exhausting 108-105 victory.
And the highlight moment from the game was (SURPRISE!!!) credited the Bench Mob: VanVleet, to Poeltl, to VanVleet and finished off by Siakam.
Game eight of the Raptors’ streak was an easy one for Toronto; sailing past the New York Knicks with a score of 132-106 with six players scoring in double-digits (not including DeRozan who only had nine points).
And there couldn’t be an 11-game highlight reel without at least one of Serge Ibaka’s big blocks (and the bench mobs’ thumbs down reaction). Ibaka is in the league’s top 20 in blocks per game, the Knick’s Frank Ntilikina was just his latest victim.