The High 5 is where I give my reaction to the night’s games. This includes a look at the players who made a difference in the outcome, some additional notes and unique details that caught my attention.
The Thumb (Feel of the Game)
Even against a rebuilding squad like the Atlanta Hawks, the Toronto Raptors find a way to make the game exciting. Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard started together for the first time in what felt like months. Vince Carter, potentially playing his last game ever in Toronto, stirred up old emotions. He received a hero’s welcome when subbed in late in the first quarter. It was an ugly game, but the Raptors are starting to do the little chemistry building plays that will help them become a stronger unit come playoff season.
The Raptors added to their winning streak and took care of business against the unexpectedly challenging Hawks. Toronto 104 Atlanta 101.
The Index (The Leader)
Kyle Lowry followed up his strong game against the Pacers with another solid effort against Atlanta. Kyle looks to be playing with less pressure now and seems comfortable again. He has been engaged, active and emotional since his return. It is refreshing to see him take the three with confidence and attack the rim whenever given the opportunity. Kyle finished tonight going 5/12 from the field for 16 points while adding 6 assists, 2 rebounds, 4 steals and 1 block.
The Middle (The Enemy)
John Collins had a great game for the Hawks. He brought energy on the glass and shot efficiently finishing with 21 points on 8/12 from the field. He also added 14 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal to round out his night. Collins made some big plays down the stretch to nearly help the Hawks steal the win. Atlanta has a nice, developing prospect in Collins to build with their young core.
The Ring (The X Factor)
Kawhi Leonard had a remarkable game. He filled the stat sheet by shooting 11/18 for 31 points while adding 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 6 steals and 1 block. He is so effective and efficient from anywhere on the court that it’s impossible to force him into a bad look. His improved vision has helped him get out of double teams and find the open man. Kawhi’s use of his body to get space for easy looks is methodical and his release is so soft that the ball looks like it falls in slow motion.
The Pinky (Unsung Hero)
Pascal Siakam earns the unsung hero credit for his game tonight. He played well despite the Hawks’ effort to take away his drives. Pascal found another way to make an impact, this time, by pulling down 10 rebounds to go along with 13 points, 3 assist, 1 steal and 1 block. Pascal’s length and athleticism makes him a smothering defender. At the same time, he has become a reliable scoring option for Toronto by constantly keeps defenders on their heels.
Player of the Game
Kawhi Leonard was tonight’s player of the game. He was equally impressive on both sides of the floor showing exactly why he is one of the best two-way players in the league. Kawhi came up with two enormous stops in the final minutes to end any hope for an Atlanta victory. Leonard was All-World tonight leading the Raptors to another momentum building win.
- VIN/LIN-SANITY- Jeremy Lin and Vince Carter, two of the Hawks veterans and nickname-namesakes, have built part of their storied careers in Toronto.
- So Fresh and so clean – Nick Nurse managed the bench in another great suit tonight. He has looked fantastic in his first season as head coach.
- Impressive Rook – Trae Young had a great game for the Hawks and looks primed to be the face of the franchise.
- Going West – Vince Carter is about 60 points away from catching Jerry West for 21st on the all-time scoring list. He should hit that mark before the end of the season.
- New threads – I am not feeling the Hawks triangle pattern jerseys, bring back the classic look!
The Raptors get a couple of days off before facing the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night at Scotiabank Arena.