It wasn't the prettiest game but the Toronto Raptors held off the Cleveland Cavaliers for a 115-109 win on Thursday night.
Turn the 6 upside down it's 9 straight now. #WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/azdNLQQtE6- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) January 31, 2020
Starting in place of the injured Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka led the way with 26 points (on 10-for-14 shooting) while newly-named All-Star Kyle Lowry again proved himself worthy of the honour.
Here are some thoughts on the game.
1. Make that nine in a row
This is now the third-longest win streak in franchise history, tying a mark set in 2002.
Toronto is just two wins away from reaching the franchise-record mark of 11-straight wins, and three away from making history.
2. Lowry in All-Star form
For the sixth-straight year, Kyle Lowry will represent the Toronto Raptors in the NBA All-Star Game.
The six selections now represent a franchise record.
*Check watch*- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) January 31, 2020
Yup, Lowry time pic.twitter.com/XqE2An1Qqn
Again and again, he reminds fans just why he is worthy of the honour.
Tonight, Lowry did so by scoring 23 points (14 in the third quarter) to go along with five assists, five rebounds and four steals.
3. Ibaka steps up in a major way
It's not unfamiliar territory for Serge Ibaka.
Once again, Ibaka was inserted into the starting lineup in place of the injured Marc Gasol, who is again out with a hamstring ailment.
And once again, Ibaka rose to the occasion.
The big man finished with a team-high 26 points on 10-for-14 shooting from the field and 3-for-6 shooting from deep, including a clutch 3 down the stretch, again proving to be capable of holding things down while Gasol heals.
How can you not love @Klow7 pic.twitter.com/Y0MwbwdTam- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) January 31, 2020
4. VanVleet makes things happen
Fred VanVleet finished the game with eight points on 3-for-13 shooting.
He still had a very impactful game.
Toronto's other starting guard dished out a game-high 12 assists and pulled down seven rebounds, including three on the offensive end. The shots weren't necessarily falling like they usually do, but VanVleet still found ways to make his presence felt to alter the course of the game.
5. Sweeping the season series
With the win, the Raptors have earned a 3-0 season sweep over the Cavs.
It's the first time that Toronto has swept a season series over Cleveland since the 2000-01 season.
Taking care of business against lesser opponents is an important key to having a successful season. A season sweep is indicative of that.
6. A rough stretch for the Cavs
With the loss, Cleveland falls to 13-36 on the season.
The Cavs have now lost nine of their last 10 games and with a young team, will continue to search for answers to turn things around.
7. Nick Nurse… All-Star?
Pascal Siakam will get the start. Kyle Lowry will be a reserve.
Will Nick Nurse and company coach Team Giannis?
Thanks to tonight's win, the Raptors hold a 1.5 game lead over both the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat for No. 2 in the Eastern Conference. With Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer ineligible to coach in back-to-back years, one more win from the Raptors between now and Feb. 2 will secure his spot as a head coach in the 2020 All-Star Game.
8. What's next?
It's a quick turnaround for the Raptors, who are back in action tomorrow night as they visit the Detroit Pistons.
Cleveland takes the floor again on Saturday when it hosts the Golden State Warriors.
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.