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Raptors Kawhi Leonard Hits Game-Winner Against Nets

@Raptors via Twitter

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Raptors Kawhi Leonard Hits Game-Winner Against Nets

The Raptors played short-handed again.

Perhaps that is the secret of their success.

Raptors Desperate for Help

With news that Fred VanVleet will be missing the next three weeks of action, it appears Jeremy Lin will be joining the Raptors this week after finalizing buyout paperwork with the Atlanta Hawks.

Lin has a career-high true shooting percentage of 59.4% this season, so he’s been highly effective as a 30-year old backup point guard. He will fit the Raptors’ second unit quite nicely as Lowry’s relief in the short term, and he can be used as another bench scorer in the playoffs.

Joe Harris vs the Raptors

Before Linsanity goes Canadian, the Brooklyn Nets were eager to sink their teeth into some Raptor meat.

Joe Harris had that look in his eye — as he hit five three-pointers in the opening quarter to give Brooklyn a 29-21 lead. Those five threes would not be the last of the game for Harris and certainly not for the three-happy Brooklyn Nets.

Patrick McCaw Breaks Out

With an undermanned Raptors squad, help came from the unlikeliest of places: Patrick McCaw. His energy led the second unit comeback as Toronto pulled to within four points by halftime, 60-56.

While disappointing as an acquisition for his brief time as a Raptor, McCaw played inspired basketball. Last night’s performance revealed why he created so much controversy in the Golden State-Cleveland power struggle for his services earlier this season. It will be intriguing to see how McCaw fits in the mix once the Raptors fill their remaining roster spots. 

Marc Gasol to the Rescue

The Raptors continued their comeback through the versatile play of Marc Gasol. In only his second game as a Raptor, he looks like an essential piece of this franchise in its most important season. Whether it’s scoring, passing, rebounding, defense or teaching the young Raptors after they make positional mistakes, Gasol was the reason the Raptors were able to sustain this comeback. He has the poise of a grizzled vet (pardon the pun), and it will pay off exponentially in the playoffs. 

Gasol anchors the Raptors’ second unit — often making it difficult to differentiate between the starters and the reserves when he is on the floor. Gasol’s presence gave the Raptors a six-point lead all the way until the 5:53 mark of the fourth quarter. Afterward, Kawhi Leonard came in to close the game.

Four Seconds Left

The last six minutes of this game featured a barrage of three-pointers by the Nets (they hit 20 of them in the game) and a fitting star return from All-Star replacement selection D’Angelo Russell. Russell hit key free throws and dished crisp passes to teammates to set up a chance for Kawhi Leonard to determine the outcome of this game.

Deadlocked at 125, Lowry calmly passed the ball to Leonard’s favorite spot on the right elbow, and Leonard banked in the game-winner like it was a drill during practice.

No celebration. No drama. Just cold-blooded execution.

With only four seconds left, Brooklyn never got a chance to get a good look at the basket. Russell missed a prayer from distance at the buzzer, and the Raptors put another victory in the win column.

Final result: Raptors 127, Nets 125

NOTABLE PERFORMANCES:

D’Angelo Russell – 28 points, 7 REB, 14 AST, 1 STL

Joe Harris – 24 points, 7 3PM, 2 REB, 4 AST

Kawhi Leonard – 30 points, 9/9 FT, 2 REB, 8 AST, 1 STL

Marc Gasol – 16 points, 22 minutes, 7/9 FG, 6 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK

Next game:

Raptors play Washington Wizards on Wednesday, February 13th @ 7:30 pm in Toronto. 

 

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Photo Credit

@Raptors via Twitter

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