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)
I was disappointed to hear that Kings guard De’Aaron “Star” Fox was out of the lineup tonight. He is one of the leagues most exciting young players and a big reason Sacramento is relevant again. Without Fox, this should have been an easy win for Toronto, but the Kings were scrappy. They used their energy to force the tempo and tried to run the injured Raptors out of Scotiabank Arena. Coach Nurse relied on his bench and was rewarded with a total team effort. Led by Kyle Lowry, Toronto was able to pull away in the forth quarter for another victory.
Toronto 120 Sacramento 105.
The Index (The Leader)
Aside from a lack of consistent scoring, Kyle Lowry has been the definition of a pure point guard. He shows so much trust in his teammates that it must be empowering to play with him. Kyle started to heat up in the forth quarter and used some timely shooting to close out the game for Toronto. He finished the night with 19 points on 6/15 from the floor with 4 rebounds and 9 assists. If he can get healthy and hit his shots at a consistent rate, then the Raptors will have the makings of their own big three with Siakam and Leonard.
The Middle (The Enemy)
A lot of the talk that comes out of Sacramento is about De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley III, but a player that should get a lot more recognition is Kings guard Bogdan Bogdanovic. Despite being a smaller player on a team loaded with athleticism, Bogdanovic found a way to make an impact against Toronto. I was impressed how he was able to pick his spots and carry the distribution load for the Kings who were without their starting PG. Bogdan had a solid night and nearly earned a triple double by scoring 16 points on 6/15 shooting with 8 rebounds, 9 assists and 3 steals.
The Ring (The X Factor)
Pascal Siakam does not take plays off. He has an unbelievable amount of energy that makes it seem as if he never gets tired. Pascal exploded in the third quarter with crafty layups and back breaking dunks that energized the crowd. He played with outstanding pressure on defense and used his long arms to disrupt the Kings passing lanes which helped trigger the Raptors transition game. Siakam’s name is starting to come up in All Star conversations and he should be a leading candidate for the Most Improved Player of the year. Siakam scored 18 points while shooting and efficient 8/14 from the floor to go with 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and a block.
The Pinky (The Unsung Hero)
CJ Miles had another hot shooting night to continue his recent string of good games. CJ’s success with his shot seemed to re-energize his defensive play as well. In his limited minutes, Miles was able to inject a boost of instant offense to help Toronto gain control of the game. CJ finished with 15 points on 5/6 shooting (4/5 from deep) to go with 2 rebounds and an assist in 16 minutes. Miles is the type of player that can win you a quarter which, may not sound like much, but will be incredibly important in the playoffs.
Player of the Game
Fred VanVleet has quietly returned to last years form. There were concerns with this health and his shot for most of the season, but he has been energized over these last few games and is playing at a high level again. Fred looks more comfortable with each start and his shots are coming easier and dropping at a higher rate. VanVleet was all over the floor tonight finishing with 19 points on 6/10 from the field with an impressive 7 rebounds and 7 assists. He took full advantage of the extra day off and had a great game as a result.
- Bobby Buckets – It’s great to see Bobby Jackson, one of the leagues craftiest scorers, on the Sacramento coaching staff. Bobby was fun to watch as the first man off the bench for a potent Kings lineup. Shout outs to Kings commentator and former Raptor Doug Christie.
- Pitch Ahead – The Raptors were pushing the ball every chance they got. At the beginning of the year it was just Lowry, but now it seems that every player is looking to take advantage of leak outs.
- Earning Time – Chris Boucher is making the most of his opportunity. Credit to the young Canadian for playing hard whenever he was on the floor. He finished a huge alley oop dunk to put an exclamation point on the win.
- International Flavour – It was Serbian Night at the Scotiabank Arena and I have one question. Where was Peja?
The Raptors don’t have much time to enjoy this victory. Toronto is back in action on Wednesday against the Pacers in Indiana.