A huge night and some clutch shooting from Chris Boucher helped lift the Toronto Raptors to a hard-fought 112-106 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Boucher scored 10 of the Raptors final 12 points over the final 2:51 of play, capping off a 31-point, 12-rebound effort from the Toronto big man.
The dagger came on a corner three with 10.4 seconds left, with the win moving the Raptors to 24-34 on the season as they cling to the final Play-In Tournament seed.
BONJOUURRRRRRRRRRRRRR FAM pic.twitter.com/ngDxEx85PC- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 19, 2021
Raps with (another) new starting lineup
It's been the tale of the season for Toronto, with constant change to the active roster causing havoc with the team's ability to find any continuity.
Pascal Siakam (left shoulder soreness), Fred VanVleet (left hip flexor), OG Anunoby (left calf) and Kyle Lowry (rest) were all unavailable for the game against Oklahoma City, leaving head coach Nick Nurse to roll out the 27th different starting group of the season -- one off a franchise record.
Chris Boucher, Gary Trent Jr., Khem Birch, Malachi Flynn and Paul Watson got the nod on Sunday evening.
We already mentioned the different starting lineup the Raptors were forced to turn to, but what we didn't mention was the unique piece of trivia it created.
With Luguentz Dort starting for OKC, it meant that along with Birch and Boucher, there were three players from Montreal tipping off the game on the floor.
It was an incredible start for two of those players, with Dort pouring in 21 points on 7-for-7 shooting from the field and Boucher leading Toronto with 17 points, six rebounds and two assists in the first quarter.
Lu Dort went OFF for 21 PTS in the 1Q 😯- NBA TV (@NBATV) April 18, 2021
He's a perfect 7-7 on FG and 5-5 from deep. pic.twitter.com/SI2bD6gagS
Postgame, Boucher spoke about what the night meant for him, playing alongside two other Montrealers. "We came from so far. People from Montreal, all the kids, it shows it's possible," Boucher said. "This one is for all the kids in Montreal who have aspirations of playing basketball."
As mentioned earlier, Boucher got the last laugh, finishing with 31 points, while Dort tallied 29 points and four rebounds on 9-for-15 from the floor. Birch would see 28 minutes of floor time and chip in with seven points, six rebounds and three assists.
Gary Trent Jr. increases role
Without their three leading scorers, Trent became Toronto's leading option on the perimeter in a more aggressive role on offence.
It wasn't the most efficient night for the 22-year-old, who finished just 9-for-25 from the floor and 4-of-15 from 2-point range. Despite the off shooting, he did come up with the key assist to Boucher for the dagger triple while also forcing a turnover on Dort in the final minute on a critical possession.
That's smooth, @gtrentjr pic.twitter.com/EuS5yhReG0- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 19, 2021
The defensive play was the tale of the night for Trent, who equalled a career-high mark with four steals, while the 25 shot attempts were also a career-high.
Birch gets creative
Sometimes you just got to go it alone.
Khem Birch 🇨🇦 throws the alley-oop to himself! #WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/EeDngplLb9- NBA Canada (@NBACanada) April 18, 2021
This creative finish was one of the highlights of the night, and whether or not it was his intention to throw himself a lob off the backboard, he should claim it because it was definitely effective!
Flynn impresses once again
Starting for the sixth time in the last seven games, Toronto's rookie point guard continues to show why he was highly regarded as player who could make an early impact in the league.
Seeing 30+ minutes of court for the fourth straight game, Flynn finished with a productive 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Taking his attempts in the flow of the offence, the 22-year-old finished 3-for-5 from beyond the arc and perhaps the most impressive number was just the one turnover.
Across the last seven games Flynn has now recorded 46 assists to just 10 turnovers which is mighty impressive for a first-year player.
With confidence from the rook pic.twitter.com/L2x26yJSes- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 19, 2021
The Raptors will have a rare two-night break before hosting the Brooklyn Nets, while OKC jump straight on a plane to head to Washington for a game in under 24 hours.
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