Toronto takes down a giant in the west.

Toronto shows tenacity as they take down the top team in the west.

The Toronto Raptors played one of their best games last night, the offense looked extremely cohesive, the defense faltered at some points but it clamped down at the right time to ensure Toronto went home with a win. Huge nights from Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby spearheaded Toronto’s statement win.

To begin the game Toronto came out swinging like the underdog in a title fight, their onslaught on Denver was kicked off with Jakob Poetl fighting on the offensive glass, going at Nikola Jokic and really setting the tone. OG Anunoby also joined the party and punished poor off ball defense from Denver by sinking multiple jumpers, also flashed some in-between creation and had one of the smoothest pull up mid range shots I’ve seen from him. Fred VanVleet was really the one who demolished Denver the most, especially from outside, sinking 4 triples in this quarter alone. Fred had some incredible threes in transition, including a snatch back three towards the end of the quarter that nearly sent Nuggets rookie Christian Braun into the crowd. Scottie Barnes also chipped in 9 points in this opening period and he was taking full advantage of his size vs smaller Nuggets defenders while also fighting on the offensive glass. The Raptors scored the most points in a quarter in franchise history with 49 and outscored Denver by 19 to open the game.

The third quarter is where things got a bit uncomfortable for Toronto, as their once substantial lead got chopped down to a mere 6 points thanks to the efforts of Nikola Jokic and Michael Porter Jr. It was only thanks to Fred’s 12 points that things didn’t get even worse. The Nuggets ended the third quarter on a 28-10 run and Jokic was just bullying them inside, getting his layups to go down with little to no difficulty. It didn’t help that Michael Porter Jr went perfect from the field with three of his five shots being threes. At this point in the game Pascal was still in his slump so he wasn’t able to carry the bench lineup offensively like we saw so many times in the past.

With the 4th quarter underway and the Nuggets having all the momentum, Toronto was going to have to dig deep to pull this one out. So many times this season Toronto has lost games they had in the bag but as a team they collectively decided this wouldn’t be one of those games. They held the Nuggets to 7-18 shooting and it was a really beautiful masterclass of team defense along with Jakob’s rim protection to wrap things up nicely. Even the shots they made were extremely contested or difficult such as a fadeaway from Aaron Gordon. It wasn’t a juggernaut performance offensively from Toronto in the 4th but it felt like anytime Denver thought they had a chance to get back in it there was a timely bucket from Toronto to quiet any hopes of a comeback victory. This was a great win by a Toronto team that simply took advantage of the Nuggets bottom defense en route to a much needed win.

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