The Toronto Raptors came out flat against the Miami Heat earlier this week but they weren't going to make the same mistake twice.
Filling in for Kyle Lowry (toe) in the starting lineup, Norman Powell got the Raptors off to a quick start and OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam's efforts closed things out for a 101-81 victory.
For more on Toronto's much-needed win, we have you covered with some takeaways below.
1. Life without Kyle Lowry
For the second time this season the Raptors were without All-Star guard Kyle Lowry, who missed the game due to a toe infection. Lowry had hopes of suiting up for this contest and it's possible he'll return for Toronto's back-to-back games against the Indiana Pacers on Sunday and Monday.
After going 12-2 without Lowry in the lineup last season, the Raptors are now 2-0 without their floor general this season.
2. No Tyler Herro, again
Health and safety protocols have hit the Heat hard this season but that's not why sophomore guard Tyler Herro has been out. The rising star suffered a neck injury a week back and while he was originally not expected to miss much time, the pain has not improved.
Herro traveled with the team in hopes to play in at least one game against the Raptors but never took the floor. He has missed four games including this contest and according to Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel, Herro has been sent back to Miami and will miss both upcoming against against the Brooklyn Nets.
That will be six missed games before Herro has a chance to return to action, a tough blow for the Heat as he was averaging a team-high 17.6 points per game so far this season.
3. Starter Norman Powell
This feels like déjà vu from the last time that Lowry was out of the lineup. As the designated fill-in starter, Norman Powell did what he does best: going off when inserted into the starting lineup.
As a starter last season, Powell averaged 18.7 points while shooting 52.2% from the field and 44.4% from beyond the arc. This season has been no different, averaging 16.0 points while shooting 55.2% from the field and 46.7% from 3-point range in the three games he started prior to this one.
Tonight, Powell got off to a red hot start by scorching the Heat for 14 points in the first quarter on 6-for-6 shooting from the field with a pair of 3s.
🗣️ NORMAN pic.twitter.com/eCLUQ5OyB6- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) January 23, 2021
Tallying 19 points by halftime, Powell's offensive surge put the Raptors in the driver's seat for the game.
He finished with a team-high 23 points on 10-for-18 shooting from the field with three 3s, proving his capabilities as an interim starter.
4. OG Anunoby stays hot from 3
Anunoby has turned into a lights-out 3-point shooter over the last six games. His offensive game has improved as a whole, scoring double figures in seven consecutive games now - the longest stretch of his career.
His 3-point shooting has played a major role in his uptick in scoring, shooting a blistering 22-for-37 from beyond the arc, good for a 59.5% clip.
He was 5-for-6 from 3-point land in this one, scoring a season-high 21 points as a result.
I don't shoot trying to miss pic.twitter.com/fVJ4qKwJvz- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) January 23, 2021
Anunoby is known for his defensive presence but he's looking more like a true two-way threat over this stretch of games.
5. Pascal Siakam bounces back
It was a quiet showing from Siakam in Wednesday's loss to the Heat, although tweaking his groin early on in the contest certainly played a role. The All-Star forward was listed as questionable for this game as a result of that groin injury but he powered through and made his impact felt this time around.
When the Heat came out gunning in the second half, trimming the Raptors' lead from 21 to just four points, it was Siakam's energy that helped halt Miami's momentum.
He did a little bit of everything in this one, finishing with 15 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and two steals while shooting an efficient 6-for-12 from the field.
An encouraging response to a pair of quiet outings, Toronto would love to see this version of Siakam in every game.
6. More Kendrick Nunn
Nunn was the hero of the game in Miami's win over the Raptors earlier this week and the second-year guard was terrific in this game, too.
After starting in all 67 games for the Heat last season, Nunn's playing time has been inconsistent dating back to last postseason. With the number of players Miami has out due to health and safety protocols or injuries, head coach Erik Spoelstra has given Nunn another shot and he's thrived with that opportunity.
Nunn scored a game-high 28 points with eight boards and five assists in the first meeting and followed that up with a strong 22 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals off the bench.
The All-Rookie First Team selection is making his case for a spot in the every day rotation even when Miami returns to full strength.
7. Poetry in motion
This play is worth it's own takeaway, showcasing how the Raptors were clicking on all cylinders in the first half.
Aron Baynes with the block, Pascal Siakam with the outlet, Fred VanVleet with the lob and Norman Powell with the flush. It's beautiful.
YOU LOVE TO SEE IT pic.twitter.com/QOWL8AIBZe- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) January 23, 2021
8. What's next?
With the win the Raptors advance to 6-9 on the season. They'll have one day off before taking on the Indiana Pacers on Sunday. As for the Heat, they fall to 6-8 and will play the second half of their back-to-back on Saturday against the new-look Brooklyn Nets.
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