Raptors fall as Justin Champagnie’s miracle game-winner taken away

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 12: Justin Champagnie #11 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 12: Justin Champagnie #11 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

Just when it seemed like the Toronto Raptors were on the verge of getting blown out embarrassingly against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Justin Champagnie came off the bench and provided Nick Nurse with the spark he needed to get back in the game.

In 12 minutes, Champagnie recorded seven points and two rebounds, making all three of his attempts from the field. Instead of Fred VanVleet or Pascal Siakam putting the Raptors up late, it was Champagnie who converted an easy look near the basket to give Toronto a 109-107 lead.

After a Mike Muscala 3-pointer put OKC back in front, VanVleet went charging into the paint to help Toronto get a quality shot inside for the game-winner. Champagnie almost provided the Raptors with one of the defining moments of the season, but he was just a tick too late.

The Raptors fell to the Thunder 110-109 after a Champagnie tip-in was nullified at the buzzer. With the arena in a state of complete euphoria, Toronto has their victory snatched right out from under them. The Raptors fell to 4-9 at home, but that record could’ve been different if Champagnie was a half-second quicker.

Justin Champagnie almost won the game for the Toronto Raptors.

81. Final. 110. 149. 109

It was a minor miracle that they were even in this position. The Thunder outscored Toronto by 21 points in the third quarter, though the Raptors went on a 26-13 run to climb back into this one. Champagnie was one of the main reasons that the Raptors were able to mount such a furious comeback.

Champagnie is on a two-way contract, meaning that his playing time is being split between the big league club and the G League. While Oklahoma City doesn’t have prime Hakeem Olajuwon in the paint, Champagnie helped keep a shorthanded Raptors team afloat.

The bench outside of the Pitt alum didn’t do much to help this team score points, and VanVleet couldn’t buy a bucket until the fourth quarter came around. Champagnie’s hustle, athletic ability, and solid rebounding skill for his size ignited something that almost helped guide the squad to victory.

At the very least, this game showed that Nurse may need to lean on Champagnie in the rotation just a bit more. While he didn’t get his signature moment in the NBA just yet, there’s a ton of good things to say about his play in 2021-22.

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