VanVleet scores 29 points and Raptors beat Nets 119-118 for 14th straight win

TORONTO – Fred VanVleet scored 29 points and the Toronto Raptors stretched their franchise-record winning streak to 14 games with a 119-118 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday.

Pascal Siakam and rookie Terence Davis had 20 points apiece for the Raptors (39-14), who were missing six-time all-star guard Kyle Lowry. Matt Thomas had 15 points, while Serge Ibaka chipped in with 12.

Caris LeVert led the Nets (23-28) with 37 points.

The Raptors’ previous best win streak was 11 games, which they’d accomplished three times.

A day after his energetic 17-point outburst in the Raptors’ 115-106 win in Indiana, Davis earned his second NBA start. The rookie, who wasn’t named to the Rising Stars game of the NBA all-star weekend, was announced in Saturday’s starting lineup as “From undrafted to our rising star. . .” and then was the first Raptor on the board, after being fouled on a three-pointer for a four-point play.

The Raptors took their first double-digit lead in the second quarter, stretching it to 18 points in the third, and went into the fourth up 100-88.

The Raptors couldn’t put away the pesky Nets in the fourth. A mini 5-0 Nets run pulled the visitors to within three points with three minutes to play. But VanVleet was fouled while driving to the hoop and his basket and free throw gave Toronto a three-point cushion and had the Scotiabank Arena crowd chanting: “Fred-dy! Fred-dy!”

But three consecutive baskets by LeVert tied the game 118-118 with just 35 seconds to play. With the capacity crowd of 19,800 on its feet, Siakam was fouled, making one of his two free throws with 23 seconds left. LeVert and Joe Harris both missed shots on Brooklyn’s last possession.

The Raptors can’t catch a break on the injury front. Lowry, who missed 11 games earlier in the season with a broken thumb, suffered whiplash when he hit the back of Ibaka on Friday in Indiana. Norman Powell missed his fourth game with a broken finger, while Marc Gasol has missed 18 games, in two stints, due to a hamstring injury.

The Raptors’ streak could grow by one more game at least. They host the beleaguered Minnesota Timberwolves – who have lost 13 in a row – on Monday.

The Raptors’ win streak matched the Calgary Stampeders’ 14 consecutive wins in 2016 – which has been touted as the longest single-season win streak in Canadian professional sports history.

The Toronto Wolfpack, the city’s trans-Atlantic rugby league team, won 23 in a row in 2019.

Neither team led by more than five points in a first quarter that saw seven lead changes and the Nets led 36-33 to start the second.

Thomas led the way with 11 points, including an alley-oop layup from Ibaka, in the second quarter. A driving hook shot from Siakam had the Raptors up by 15 late in the half, and Toronto went into the break up 66-54.

OG Anunoby’s dunk early in the third stretched Toronto’s advantage to 18 points. Davis had three three-pointers and 11 points in the quarter, and the Raptors led 100-88 to start the fourth.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 8, 2020.