The Paul Watson game.
On Friday, the Toronto Raptors defeated the Orlando Magic by a final score of 113-102 to improve to 23-34 on the season.
Watson led the Raptors in scoring with a career-best 30 points on a scorching 8-for-11 shooting from 3-point range. Yuta Watanabe wasn't far behind him in the scoring column with a career-best 21 points and six rebounds.
For more on the game, some takeaways at the buzzer...
1. The injury report
Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby each sat this one out due to rest. Additionally, Gary Trent Jr. was a late scratch due to right ankle soreness.
With the four of them out, Malachi Flynn, Fred VanVleet, Watson, Chris Boucher and Khem Birch got the start for the Raptors.
Per TSN's Josh Lewenberg, it's the 26th different starting lineup the Raptors have used this season, which is crazy considering they've only played 57 games. A new starting lineup every couple of games is ... a lot.
2. Have yourself a quarter, Yuta!
Watanabe was the reason the Raptors weren't trailing at the end of the first quarter.
Watanabe checked into the game for the first time with 4:33 remaining in the opening period, at which point the Magic led 16-9. He proceeded to score nine points on a perfect 4-for-4 shooting from the field to go along with four rebounds.
Simple- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 17, 2021
Effective @wacchi1013 pic.twitter.com/WG1bxDK9Pk
Watanabe hit a couple of free throws in the second quarter to give him a team-high 11 points at the half. Watson was Toronto's second-leading scorer with seven points.
Speaking of Watson...
3. Have yourself a quarter, Paul!
Watson kind of one-upped Watanabe in the third quarter.
Following a seven-point first half, Watson exploded for 20 points in the third quarter alone, doing so on 7-for-8 shooting from the field and 6-for-7 from 3-point range.
.@_PWJiii hoopin' tonight pic.twitter.com/GQERpxiiEz- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 17, 2021
PAUL WATSON JR pic.twitter.com/llby5Hi24V- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 17, 2021
FIND THE SHOOTER pic.twitter.com/7j6SxJQ9x8- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 17, 2021
Watson outscored the Magic all by himself in the third quarter, 20-19. That turned out to be the beginning of the end for the Magic.
Watson finished with 30 points on 8-for-11 shooting from 3, both of which are career highs. Not only that, Watson is now one of only nine players in franchise history to have made at least eight 3-pointers in a game, per Stathead. The others? Dee Brown (twice), Vince Carter (once), Danny Green (once), Donyell Marshall (once), Norman Powell (once), Terrence Ross (once), Lowry (once) and VanVleet (once).
Not bad company for him to be in.
Pull up on 'em then, @_PWJiii pic.twitter.com/MnuaPuxu8O- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 17, 2021
4. Another career game
Watanabe scored his 15th point of the game off of a free throw in the fourth quarter, giving him a new career high. He finished with 21 points in 26 minutes of action. This was by far and away the most aggressive I can remember seeing Watanabe being offensively.
5. The return of VanVleet
This was VanVleet's first game since April 2. It was a quiet night overall for him - he finished with six points on 3-for-12 shooting from the field and 0-for-6 from 3-point range - but he dished out six assists and was a pest defensively, coming up with two blocks and one steal. Good to see Freddie back out there again.
6. It's about to get interesting
The Washington Wizards defeated the New Orleans Pelicans in overtime on Friday behind 36 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists from Russell Westbrook. Additionally, the Chicago Bulls lost to the Memphis Grizzlies, with Dillon Brooks going off for a game-high 32 points.
You know what that means? We now have a three-way tie for the 10th seed in the Eastern Conference, otherwise known as the final Play-In Tournament spot.
Still a lot to play for over the next month for the Raptors, Wizards and Bulls.
7. What's next
The homestand continues!
On Sunday, the Raptors host the Oklahoma City Thunder. It's the second and final meeting between the two teams this season. Oklahoma City took the first one, overcoming 31 points from Trent Jr. to win by a final score of 113-103.
It should be an interesting one. Catch you then.
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