Toronto Raptors Win Five Straight But Lose Jonas Valanciunas

By Michael Roberts
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Raptors have won five straight games but the victory came with a price as the team lost Jonas Valanciunas with a broken ring finger.

The Raptors held off a late flurry by the Orlando Magic, winning 93-90 after the team’s rookie center left the game just four minutes into action. Valanciunas left and didn’t return after breaking his right ring finger as he fell to the ground trying to grab the ball from an Orlando player. No timetable for his return was available after the game.

Despite the loss of their starting center, Toronto grinded out a hard fought victory in a game the team appeared noticeably tired in. After back-to-back games earlier in the week visiting the Cleveland Cavaliers and then at home to the Detroit Pistons, the team came out flat missing easy shots early on.

Much like the rest of the games during the win streak, it came down to a total team effort in the victory with six players scoring in double-figures. Nine of the 10 Raptors that saw court time picked up at least three points, with the only one not to score being the injured Valanciunas.

Jose Calderon continued his impressive playmaking delivering 13 points and nine assists while only committing two turnovers in the win. DeMar DeRozan finished with a team high 17 points to go along with eight rebounds. DeRozan easily could have finished with more points but missed several easy lay-ups the high flyer normally makes, shooting only 5 for 17 in the contest. Meanwhile, Terrence Ross had another breakout performance, for more on his game click here.

Despite having six players finish with double-figure scoring totals, the team was only three points away from having eight. Linas Kleiza had nine points while John Lucas delivered eight points contributing to the team’s 50 points off the bench.

The bench has been a major part of the team’s success during the win streak having outscored the starters on more than one occasion. Getting healthy bodies back from injury like Kleiza and Alan Anderson have given the Raptors a much needed spark off the bench that’ll need to continue with the loss of Valanciunas.

Toronto came into the week needing to pick up at least two of three on the schedule and have managed to sweep the trio of games. They now head out onto the road for their next three games against the San Antonio Spurs, New Orleans Hornets and Orlando Magic. Given the struggles the team has against the Western Conference it’ll be tough to win either game against the Spurs or Hornets, let alone attempt to extend the win streak further. The Raptors did nearly knock off San Antonio at home in a game Andrea Bargnani shot the team out of victory by going 2 for 19 from the field. With Bargnani unable to play given his injury, the team might have a chance at revenge for their defeat on home court.

However, unquestionably the biggest upcoming game is the rematch against the Magic. Given that Orlando is one of the teams Toronto is chasing in the standings, the Raptors can’t afford to let that game slip away. After the team’s difficult start to the season, they don’t have too many opportunities remaining to gain ground on opponents ahead of them and they’ll need to take advantage of this one.

After their recent victory, the Raptors have already beaten Orlando twice this season. If they can make it three times, it’ll go a long way in their attempt to climb the standings.

Michael covers ACC and Big East basketball along with the Toronto Raptors for Rant Sports, you can follow him on Twitter @MichaelxRoberts

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