Solid: The shorthanded Raptors with Kawhi Leonard, Jonas Valanciunas and OG Anunoby led from start to finish against the equally shorthanded Kings. Toronto relentlessly pushed the pace and Sacramento eventually ran out of gas on the second night of a back-to-back.
Positive: Kyle Lowry only shot 6-of-15 but this was one of his most promising performances since returning from injury. Lowry was instrumental in setting the breakneck tempo, and while he struggled with his shot early on, Lowry did connect on four triples to finish with 19 points on the night.
Coaching: Nick Nurse made sure to give Lowry a vote of confidence by dialing up an inbound play where Lowry came around two baseline pin down screens to pop free for a jumper. Not only did that shot extend the lead to double digits, but it also gave Lowry the confidence to try (and make) another three in the fourth.
Steady: This was Fred VanVleet’s best game of the season. He was slow and labored in recent games, but VanVleet looked sharp after two off days. VanVleet was able to gain separation on his change of pace drives, he was money on catch-and-shoot threes, and his presence on the ball allowed Lowry to play as a two guard.
Relentless: Pascal Siakam’s inexhaustible motor eventually wore the Kings down in the second half. On one possession, he snagged a defensive rebound in traffic, drove in the length of the floor with a man on his hip, before finishing through contact at the rim.
Variance: C.J. Miles extended his double-digit scoring streak to three games by hitting four threes as part of 15 points off the bench. He broke the game wide open in the fourth quarter by drilling two threes, including one in transition off a feed from Lowry. It remains to be seen if Miles can sustain this level of play, but his scoring has been absolutely vital in Leonard’s absence.
Energetic: The Raptors got tremendous production out of Delon Wright and Norman Powell in the second unit. Both players were active on defense and opportunistic in transition. Wright, in particular, needs to play with that type of aggression every night.
Bully: The Raptors made a point of attacking the diminutive Yogi Ferrell. Danny Green posted him up twice, which led to open shots after the Kings were forced to double, and Wright snagged a key offensive rebound in the fourth by rising up over Ferrell.
Attitude: Greg Monroe’s miserable outing allowed Chris Boucher to shine. Boucher showed great tenacity and strong hands in traffic by coming up with tough rebounds, and made the highlight of the night when he reached his gangly arms back at an obtuse angle to finish an alley-oop feed from Lowry.
Rest: The Raptors are in a tough spot with Leonard sitting out games. If they’re transparent about him picking up a minor injury, then it leads to fans worrying. But if they cite “load management” for why he’s sitting out a third-straight game, then fans get suspicious.