Having a back-up center capable of stepping in and playing well in big minutes is a wonderful blessing. It’s one the Toronto Raptors gave themselves when they inked Bismack Biyombo to what now looks like a ludicrously team-friendly deal this past summer, as Biyombo’s become not only a major part of the team’s excellent bench unit, but proven a quality stop-gap in the starting role, too.
And it’s a good thing, because Jonas Valanciunas is on the shelf for the second time this year with a left hand injury. During his initial absence, a 17-game respite, Biyombo helped keep the team afloat with an 11-6 record, twice besting his own previous career high for rebounds in a game.
He was attacking his own record book again Thursday in his second consecutive start in Valanciunas’ place (and 19th overall), setting a new career high with 25 rebounds against the Indiana Pacers.
Biyombo started the game red hot, pulling in four rebounds in what felt like the opening seconds and finishing the first half with 13. He also had nine points on 3-of-4 shooting and one block, and the Raptors outscored Indiana by five in his 18 minutes. They turned around and were outscored by eight in the six minutes he sat, with Jordan Hill wreaking havoc on the glass. The second half saw Biyombo settle things down on the boards for the Raptors, and he hauled in his 22nd rebound before the third quarter was through. That beat his previous career high of 20, set on Dec. 22 against Dallas, and it helped push the Raptors from a three-point deficit at half to a three-point lead entering the fourth.
By the time all was said and done, Biyombo had 25 rebounds, a new Raptors best. The Raptors were a plus-16 in his 42 minutes and a minus-9 in the 11 minutes he sat. He was awesome, again.
He’s beaten his personal bests on both ends by grabbing nine offensive and 16 defensive rebounds. That broke Donyell Marshall’s franchise record of 24 rebounds, set back on Feb. 17, 2004. Marshall only grabbed 20 once that season, and Biyombo’s the first Raptor ever to grab 20 rebounds twice in the same season.
Biyombo also set a new career best in scoring, beating his previous career-high of 15 set against the Los Angeles Lakers back on Dec. 7. He tallied 16 points on 5-of-6 shooting and 6-of-11 at the line.
On the season, the 23-year-old Biyombo is averaging career highs of 5.6 points and 8.2 rebounds while also adding 1.6 blocks and shooting 54.7 percent.