Toronto Raptors: Whose stock is rising/falling, plus Kyle Lowry heats up

TORONTO, CANADA - MARCH 5: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors looks on during the national anthem prior to the game against the Houston Rockets on March 5, 2019 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Mark Blinch/NBAE via Getty Images)
TORONTO, CANADA - MARCH 5: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors looks on during the national anthem prior to the game against the Houston Rockets on March 5, 2019 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Mark Blinch/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Anatoliy Cherkasov/NurPhoto via Getty Images) /

Kawhi Leonard

What a way to start the week for Kawhi Leonard.

The Raptors wouldn’t have won that game without Kawhi, who had 38 points only 14 made shots, including one pivotal game-winner, that bounced around the rim before dropping in with just over one second left.

Kawhi was one of the main reasons that the Raptors were able to pull away from the Trail Blazers and he was the reason that they were able to hold off Portland at the end of the game.

His passing has improved greatly in the last few months too, Leonard looks as if he’s built an understanding with his teammates and, hopefully, can build one with Marc Gasol. Both players can elevate the other players game, whether it’s in a 3-5 pick-and-roll or passing out of the post, it could be a beautiful partnership, as the stats so far suggest.

Leonard was once again inactive against the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night, due to load management, the 18th game he’s missed this season. The Raptors fell in overtime, and missed Leonard dearly, as Kyle Lowry stepped up and carried the team down the stretch. With Kawhi on the court, the Raptors most likely win that game.

Kawhi returned to the lineup on Tuesday to take on the Houston Rockets at the Scotiabank Arena. It wasn’t his most effective night, shooting 10-22, but he still finished with a team-high 26 points as the Raptors were bitterly disappointing.

However, the Raptors were the better team when he was on the court, and Leonard was an integral part of their superb comeback in the third quarter, where they outscored the Rockets 34-14.

Had the bench stepped up, we might have had a different result. Either way, it was a strong week for Kawhi, individually.

(video per stats.nba.com)