It took an extra period, but the Toronto Raptors advance to 25-13 on the season with an overtime win over the Charlotte Hornets
Terence Davis and Serge Ibaka each scored a team-high 23 points for the Raptors, with each of the two making big plays down the stretch of the overtime period.
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With that in mind, here are some thoughts from the game…
1. Serge seals it.
Serge Ibaka finished with a monstrous 23-point, 11-rebound double-double.
No two points were bigger than Ibaka's two free throws to put the Raptors up 112-110 with five seconds remaining in OT.
That would be the final.
2. The final six minutes of regulation
With 5:54 remaining in the fourth, Terry Rozier sank a triple to give the Hornets a 94-84 lead.
From there, the Raptors responded with a 16-6 run to force overtime, where they would eventually come up with the win.
Kyle Lowry, OG Anunoby and Ibaka led the charge during that stretch, combing to score all 16 of Toronto's points. Lowry capped it off with a tough layup to put the Raptors ahead 100-99 with 17.0 seconds to play.
ALL-STAR. NO 🧢- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) January 9, 2020
Vote @Klow7 ⭐️ https://t.co/kQYeprYRUk pic.twitter.com/qw7NfPVNf8
Ibaka got called for an off-ball foul on the next possession, leading to a free throw by Rozier that tied the game, but Devonte' Graham missed a floater at the buzzer.
3. Back-to-backs aren't easy.
After a hard-fought loss in Toronto on Tuesday, the Raptors were back in action less than 24 hours later against a Hornets team that didn't play yesterday.
This marks the sixth of 13 back-to-backs this season for the Raptors.
The travel and quick turnaround is especially difficult for a team like the Raptors, who were without five injured players. Credit to Toronto, who dug deep to earn a win despite going into overtime with such a quick turnaround.
4. Another lineup change from Nick Nurse
Prior to the game, Nurse told reporters that the coaching staff was considering another starting lineup change, saying they were "just trying to look at maybe a different combination that helps us and different guys off the bench and making sure there's plenty of ball-handling out there, size, etc. Maybe one or two adjustments to it tonight."
The adjustment? Inserting rookie Terence Davis into the starting lineup and moving Rondae Hollis-Jefferson back to the second unit.
With a roster decimated by injury, the ingenuity and creativity of Nurse to continue to craft lineups with limited options will be key to the Raptors finding ways to win.
5. An impressive first start for Terence Davis
Nurse's decision to insert Davis into the starting lineup essentially paid off right away.
Oh word, @TerenceDavisJr? 😤 pic.twitter.com/J1bEvqKcg0- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) January 9, 2020
In the first start of the 22-year-old's career, he came out of the gates firing, scoring 13 points (on 4-for-5 shooting) in under 10 minutes. He finished with 23 points (on 8-for-16 shooting), including a few big triples in the extra period.
It's safe to say it won't be the last start for the undrafted rookie.
It was a particularly impressive performance from Davis considering Nurse called him out following the team's loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday.
"He was really good," Nurse said after Wednesday's win. "This isn't that easy to figure out who to play with all these guys out constantly and trying to figure out some ways to keep guys ticking over. When they are really fighting hard for minutes, they play better. Maybe then they get in their comfort zone because there is nobody else to put in.
"There are all kinds of things going on, but with me, I am going to rattle your cage if you deserve to have it rattle, but I am going to put my arm around you the next day and get on with it because I believe in the kid and it was only in his and our teams best interest to do that so we did it."
6. 3-Point Shooting
Entering the game, the Hornets (12.3) and Raptors were (13.2) were 11th and fifth, respectively, in 3-pointers made per game.
The Hornets finished with a slight edge, but the Raptors hit the most timely 3s.
Toronto finished the night shooting 14-for-36 (38.9%) while Charlotte was 15-for-37 (40.5%) on the game.
7. Miles Bridges
Like Davis, it didn't take long for Bridges to make his presence felt, either.
In the first quarter, the Hornets' second-year wing knocked down three triples en route to 11 points. In the second, he would knock down two more triples to bring his total to 17, making it the highest-scoring half of his young career.
He went on to finish with 26 points (on 10-for-15 shooting) and nine rebounds in 35 minutes.
🔥 That's 26 points for @MilesBridges!! 🔥@HornetsOnFSSE | #AllFly pic.twitter.com/rqOFiPTxl4- Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) January 9, 2020
8. What's next?
Toronto gets a much-needed three-day break before returning to action on Sunday, as they host DeMar DeRozan and the San Antonio Spurs.
There is still no concrete timetable for the return of many of the Raptors ailing stars, but this break could be pivotal in their recovery and eventual return.
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