To say that the Raptors opened April with an exclamation mark would be an understatement. The Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors 130-77 on Friday, winning by a franchise-best 53-point margin of victory. Pascal Siakam, playing on his 27th birthday, scored a game-high 36 points in 31 minutes, OG Anunoby finished with 21 points and Gary Trent Jr. added 24 points while finishing a +54 in the game, setting a new Raptors franchise record.
“We’ve been fighting,” Siakam said. “Today kind of showed that. We have to build on that and try to get some wins in a row.”
A franchise record-setting victory couldn’t have come at a better time. After a March filled with frustrating losses and absences due to health and safety protocols as well as injury, a dominant victory where everyone had their moment to shine was much welcomed.
“It was good,” Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said. “The guys did a good job tonight. Played really well. We needed one.”
The game was close to start, but it didn’t take long for the Raptors to break things wide open. After the opening 12 minutes, Toronto led by a point, 27-26. From there, they began to roll and the Raptors opened the second quarter on a 20-4 run to take a 17-point lead. By the break, Toronto had outscored Golden State 35-16 in the quarter to go into the half ahead 62-42.
Things only escalated in the third where with the Raptors outscoring the Warriors 46-14 in the quarter to take a 52-point advantage into the fourth, leading 108-56. In the final frame, Toronto’s reserves didn’t give up any ground as the Raptors again won the quarter, 22-21 en route to the largest margin of victory in franchise history.
Though the team was eager to get back into the Wins column, Nurse mentioned he had been pleased with the team’s focus in their last game against Oklahoma City.
“Even coming out of that OKC game with a loss, there were still some really good stretches of things we’d been working on,” Nurse said. “But we’d forgotten to rebound.”
The Raptors finished Friday’s win with a 53-38 advantage on the glass.
“It was better tonight. I think we’re trying to build and get on the same page collectively, on both ends. If we do that, this team has already proven they’re doing to be in the game every night.”
Trent Jr. came into Friday’s game off a career-high 31-point performance against the Thunder on Wednesday.
“It looks like his confidence is growing,” Nurse said of Trent Jr. who was playing his fifth game with the Raptors since coming to Toronto at the trade deadline along with Rodney Hood, in exchange for Norman Powell. “His expectation to come out and hunt those [shots], two games in a row, especially tonight, after watching him the other night, when he went up you were expecting it to go in, it was almost a shock when it didn’t go in.”
Trent Jr. said he found out he finished a +54 in the game when he noticed it on the scoreboard after he checked out of the game.
“It’s great,” he said. “First win as a Raptor. We get this win, now let’s keep building, keep going. We’re in the right direction now.”
Since coming to the Raptors from Portland, Trent Jr. is still getting accustomed to Toronto’s offensive and defensive schemes. Earning his first victory with the team had him looking forward to collecting more.
“It showed how good we can be when everybody is clicking, everybody is locked in from top to bottom,” Trent Jr. said. “It showed what we can do. It should put confidence in all of us. It should put extra lift in all of us to go out there and keep it up.”
Siakam has also been impressed with Trent Jr.’s first games in a Raptors uniform.
“He’s a really good player,” Siakam said. “He’s getting better every game. He’s bringing the energy every night. You can see he’s getting better at understanding what we do as a team, and he’s buying in which is all we can ask for and I think it’s only going to get better.”
After a week of putting in work at practice and continuing to build chemistry with new Raptors Trent Jr. and Hood, getting to celebrate a win was a nice reward.
“Obviously losing is not fun,” Siakam said. “When you go through those rough times, anything that can kind of lift our spirits and help us get together [is good.] The hardest thing to do when you’re losing is staying together. That’s something we try to do, continue to, work hard and be together. That’s the most important thing.”
Rookie guard Malachi Flynn also added a career-high 16 points off the bench in the win.
“He’s super focused on getting better,” Siakam said of Flynn. “He’s learning from guys like Kyle and Fred. Those guys are in his ear talking about the position. He’s learning every day. I don’t think, as a rookie, that I had his confidence, so he’s going to be alright.”
Both teams were shorthanded for the game. The Raptors were without Kyle Lowry (right foot infection), Rodney Hood (right hip soreness), Patrick McCaw (left knee swelling) Jalen Harris (right hip pointer) and Paul Watson (health and safety protocols). The Warriors were without Stephen Curry (tailbone contusion), and Draymond Green, who was a late scratch at game time, because of a sprained left finger.
Unfortunately for the Raptors, even this win wasn’t without incident. Fred VanVleet left the game at the 7:30 mark of the third quarter. Shortly after, the team announced that he would not be returning to the game because of a strained left hip flexor.
Even when sidelined, VanVleet was there for his team. As the Raptors walked off the court with their shoulders feeling a little lighter after a dominant win, the first person to greet them in the tunnel of Amalie Arena was VanVleet with fist bumps for everyone.
Up next for the Raptors is a Monday night meeting with the Washington Wizards at 7 p.m. ET.