CanCon

Montrealers take centre stage in thrilling showdown between Toronto Raptors and Orlando Magic

Sunday's matchup between the Toronto Raptors and Oklahoma City Thunder turned out to be an exhibition of Montreal's finest.

In a game that went down to the wire, Chris Boucher starred with 31 points, 12 rebounds and one block. Khem Birch chipped in with a near double-double, finishing with seven points and six rebounds, while Luguentz Dort led the Thunder in scoring with 29 points, 21 of which came in the first quarter on a perfect 7-for-7 shooting from the field.

The three of them spent much of the game on the floor together, with Boucher (35) and Dort (31) each logging over 30 minutes and Birch (28) logging just under.

After the game, Boucher was asked about how special it was for three Montrealers to share the court at the same time.

"We've come from so far," he said. "People from Montreal, all the kids and all that, that's just to show you guys that it's possible. We've got three guys from Montreal that are in the league at the same time.

"I think this one is for all the kids, all the people from Montreal who have aspirations of playing basketball or have kids that want to play basketball, you know, it's really possible."

Dort, who turns 22 years old on Monday, shared a similar message.

"It was cool to see three Montreal guys on the court just because Montreal is still an underdog city and we have so much talent there and there's so many kids coming up and I feel like there's gonna be way more NBA players from Montreal," Dort said, per Michael Grange of Sportsnet.

"So me, Khem and Chris we all have different backgrounds and we're all from Montreal but we all went to different places, we all had different routes so it's not gonna be easy to get to this point and to this level but I know a lot of kids are gonna do it. They've just gotta work hard."

Boucher and Dort are each in the midst of breakout seasons.

Now in his second season with the Raptors, Boucher is averaging a career-best 13.8 points to go along with 6.7 rebounds and a team-high 1.9 blocks per game. Following a promising rookie season, Dort has established himself as one of the league's premier perimeter defenders while upping his scoring average from 6.8 points per game to 13.9.

Birch hasn't had the same opportunities as Boucher and Dort, but he's started in three of five games since signing with the Raptors and is proving himself to be just what they need at the centre position.

Different as their paths to the NBA were, Boucher, Dort and Birch find themselves playing important roles on two of the more interesting teams in the NBA and serving as inspiration for the next generation of basketball players from Montreal.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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