Takeaways from the Toronto Raptors win against the Kings

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - DECEMBER 29: Head coach Nick Nurse of the Toronto Raptors speaks with Fred VanVleet #23 (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - DECEMBER 29: Head coach Nick Nurse of the Toronto Raptors speaks with Fred VanVleet #23 (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors finally bounce back with a win, as they pick up the first win of their western conference road trip against the Sacramento Kings.

It’s been a rough season thus far for the Toronto Raptors, however, they were able to make their way back in the win column on Friday night. The Raptors were able to go into Sacramento and pick up a win without their star point guard, Kyle Lowry. Here are some key takeaways from the Raptors’ win against the Sacramento Kings.

#1:  Backcourt came to play

With the absence of Kyle Lowry, it was essential for the guard play to be top-notch to fulfil that void. Safe to say that the guards came to play. The Raptors backcourt combined for 56 points, as Fred Vanvleet and Norman Powell were catalysts in Toronto’s efforts of earning a victory.

Vanvleet finished with 34 points, 3 rebounds, and 7 assists, while Norman Powell finished with 22 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 steals. A dominant performance, that was much needed by the young Raptor guards. Vanvleet currently leads the team with 20.6 points per game. The jump he has made from last season to now, has been a huge bright spot for the Raptors.

In the two games Powell has started in he has averaged 19.5 points per game. Norman seems to rise up to the occasion when it’s depended on him to produce. In both instances that Powell has started, the Raptors have won. The only games the Raptors have won this year have been when Powell is starting.

Norman has been consistent so far this year, but performances like this will be needed going forward in the season. With Lowry hopefully returning to the court on Sunday, the Raptors need Powell to emulate the same level of play he showcased in Sacramento.

#2: Second half onslaught

The Raptors were able to change the narrative and finally be the team to steal the game away in the second half. After allowing 43 points in the first quarter alone, Toronto outscored Sacramento by 29 points for the remainder of the game.

The Raptors were able to reach 144 points which is a franchise record for most points in a regulation game. This was due to the efficiency and defense that Toronto displayed. The men in red and white connected on 20 three-pointers on 51 percent shooting, while also shooting 58 percent from the field.

Defense was instrumental in the Raptors’ efforts in winning. Although the Kings shot above 50 percent from the field, Toronto did take 10 more shots. The disparity from the free-throw line was huge for the Raptors. Sacramento shot 16-28 from the charity stripe. Misfiring on 12 free throws helped the Raptors out drastically.

The second half play showed flashes of the Raptors from last season. In order to return to that level, Toronto needs to continue to play with the fire they did with on Friday night.

#3: The bench performs the way they’re expected to

The bench for the Raptors has been a big concern, but they finally were able to play to the expectations that were set for them when coming into the season.  Toronto’s second unit combined for 63 points which is a season-high. Showing that the bench has the capabilities to play at a high level.

Chris Boucher is steadily proving that he is deserving of that starting center role. Aron Baynes has struggled to say the least, and Len hasn’t shown any signs as to why he should be a starter. Boucher has easily been the best bench player for the Raptors this season. He leads the team in field goal percentage at 53 percent, along with blocks at 2 per game. With his 23 point, 10 rebounds game against the Kings, it’s almost set in stone that Boucher will start against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday.

When talking about the bench there has to be an emphasis made on the players that didn’t fill the stat sheet. Stanley Johnson and more specifically, Yuta Watanabe played amazing defense. Watanabe was extremely impressive with his lateral quicks, and ability to move his feet and stay in front of his man.

Stanley Johnson was also great and continues to bring great energy to the game. On the offensive side, these two players didn’t make big contributions, their play on defense was key in Toronto being able to turn things around in the second half.

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Malachi Flynn and Terence Davis were great in propelling the bench on the offensive side of the court. The Raptors looked like the team fans know and love. Great strides were made into bouncing back, and recovering from this slow start to the season. The Toronto Raptors will look to make it back-to-back wins against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday.