The Toronto Raptors beat the Sacramento Kings 120-105 on Tuesday, with Nick Nurse’s team showing their strength in depth in the absence of Kawhi Leonard. The small forward is currently on an eight-day break, with the Raptors having extended their winning streak at the Scotiabank Arena to 10 games.
Leonard was missing for the third straight game after being given an extended rest period by the Raptors, with Toronto having now won 11 of the 13 games in which the 27-year-old has missed so far this season. The Raptors sit second in the Eastern Conference standings, with bookmaker Intertops now making them the +175 favorites to finish top of the pile at the end of the regular season.
Strength in Depth Aiding Raptors Progress
Jonas Valanciunas is currently unavailable after thumb surgery, while OG Anunoby is absent due to personal reasons, meaning that Head Coach Purse is having to make full use of his roster. In fact, 11 different players were used by the Raptors in an indifferent first half against the Kings. However, both Leonard and Anunoby are expected to return for their clash against the Indiana Pacers later this week, where the Raptors are the underdogs for victory with popular bookmaker Betway.
It will be interesting to see how Purse uses his roster against the Pacers, with the likes of Kyle Lowry, Danny Green and Pascal Siakam having started against the Kings last time out. One thing that is for sure is that the Raptors now have no shortage of options, with fans undoubtedly hoping that Leonard and Lowry can find their top form together ahead of the playoffs.
Leonard played just nine times for the San Antonio Spurs last season due to a persistent quad injury, part of the reason as to why he was given a rest over recent weeks. However, with the Raptors having won eight of their last nine NBA games, they now face three tricky games on the road.
Lowry & VanVleet Shine for Raptors
Lowry and Fred VanVleet in particular shone against the Kings, registering 19 points apiece, along with a combined total of 16 assists. VanVleet was the main man in the opening two quarters, while Lowry certainly stepped up to the plate late on. VanVleet proved that his fitness concerns appear to be behind him, putting in one of his best performances of the season despite having his lower back strapped.
The Raptors outscored their opponents in three-pointers, bucketing 16 compared to the seven of Sacramento. The home team went into the locker room leading 60-56, before the Kings levelled things up in the third after reeling off nine straight points. However, the performance of Lowry helped the Raptors to a convincing win in the end.