15 Defining Moments From the Raptors' Franchise-Record Win Streak

15 moments from the streak that highlight the Raptors’ success heading into the unofficial second half of the season.

raptors franchise record win streak

Image via Illustrator/Albert Carbó

raptors franchise record win streak

Nothing would fall. Try as they might, and boy did they ever knowing an opportunity to extend the win-streak into the All-Star break was on the line, Toronto just couldn’t buy a bucket. As a team, the Raptors shot under 40 percent for the game, were without the services of Marc Gasol and Norman Powell, and their crutch for the majority of this season—their defence—was coming undone by 12 second-chance opportunities all told.

As the cliché goes, it was just one of those nights. And exactly that type of night is the reason why, regardless of the quality of the opposition, reeling off 15 straight wins and not tasting defeat for 30 days is all the more impressive. It takes laser-sharp focus, a commitment to excellence, and resiliency in the face of adversity to keep chugging along so smoothly. Oh, and a little bit of luck along the way doesn’t hurt either.

Here are 15 moments from the streak that highlighted each of those facets that will be pillars of the Raptors’ success heading into the unofficial second half of the season.

Jan. 15, 2020: Lowry Plays Saviour Versus the Thunder

View this video on YouTube


With 1:33 remaining in the first half, a pair of OG Anunoby free throws had given the Raptors a 30-point lead. Game over, right?

Nope. Despite still leading by 20 points in the fourth quarter, the Raptors fell apart in the face of a furious Thunder rally that cut the lead down to just three on a dunk-plus-the-foul by Danilo Gallinari that sent the crowd into a frenzy with under three minutes remaining. And then Kyle Lowry had enough.

First, he drove the lane to draw a double-team from Shai-Gilgeous Alexander and Gallinari before kicking out to an open Pascal Siakam who drove the lane and finished at the rim. Next, isolated against Gallinari at the left elbow extended, the six-time All-Star drove right and used his body to create separation before finishing with a tear drop. Finally, with Denis Schroder now guarding him, Lowry attacked him going left, caught the German with a pump fake in the paint, before rising up and draining the short jumper to push the lead back up to seven and vanquish any Thunder hopes of a comeback.

Jan. 17, 2020: Gasol Can’t Miss Against the Wizards

View this video on YouTube


The man who earned himself the nickname Beer Papi during the Raptors’ championship parade needed just three minutes to let everyone know this was going to be his night. Spacing the floor on the left extended elbow, Ian Mahinmi respected the 40 percent shooter enough to be right there with him. Gasol saw the opportunity to attack a closeout off a pass from Lowry and as he barrelled his way into the paint, resorted to a Kareem-esque running hook that dropped.

Eager to show off the other facets of his game, Gasol ended his season-high 20-point night with six three-pointers, five assists, two steals, a block, and a charge. When asked about the rare aggressiveness he showed in seeking out his own shot, Gasol provided a simple response: “Just looking at the basket.”

Jan. 18, 2020: VanVleet Returns in Style in Minnesota

View this video on YouTube


Lowry deserves his fair dose of credit here, as his 17-point third quarter wiped out a four-point halftime deficit and gave the Raptors a four-point lead to work with heading into the fourth.

In that fourth, though, it was VanVleet who took over, dropping 10 of his game-high 29 points while playing a team-high 29 minutes while on a minutes restriction in his first game after missing five in a row due to a hamstring injury. He was an absolute flamethrower from beyond the arc, shooting 7-for-8 and also finishing the game with a team-high plus-20 on the box score.

In case anyone needed a reminder, Steady Freddie has secured the bag.


27 Points 🔥
6/9 from 3🔥🔥
25 in the 2nd half 🔥🔥#UTG

— San Diego Baby (@PurePowell) January 20, 2020

Speaking of flamethrowers, Powell has become exactly that for the Raptors this season and one can only hope he’s back sooner rather than later after the All-Star break.

With the game still in the balance heading into the fourth quarter against the lowly Hawks, Powell put on a shooting clinic in Atlanta that left the crowd stunned and his teammates cheering on the bench in ecstasy.

Coming off pin-downs to catch-and-shoot, pulling up off the dribble, passing out from under the rim and relocating like Steph Curry, Powell was in that zone that leaves opponents helpless. Showing no mercy for the elderly, Powell’s heat check moment came when he called off Serge Ibaka after the centre was looking to set a screen at the top of the arc, sized up Vince Carter in front of him, and nonchalantly tossed in one of his six three-pointers on Martin Luther King Day.

Seventeen of his 27 points came in a fourth quarter to remember.

Jan. 22, 2020: VanVleet Exhibits Growth From 76ers Playoff Series

View this video on YouTube


No matter where VanVleet looked to shoot from in the 2019 Eastern Conference semis against Philadelphia, there was an outstretched Sixer arm swatting his shot away. From Jimmy Butler to James Ennis, everyone was getting a piece.

Despite finishing a champion, VanVleet was motivated by his failures in the early rounds and worked to extend his range so bigger defenders had to get further out to get to him when he shot the ball.

He served a warning shot coming off a screen late in the third quarter to cut Toronto’s deficit to one, then another inside a minute remaining in the frame to give the Raptors the lead.

When the game was on the line around the two-minute mark, Siakam hit VanVleet with a kick-out at least three feet behind the arc and he nailed it, before signing off with a step-back three-pointer over Forkan Korkmaz to bulge Toronto’s lead to 13 with a minute-and-a-half remaining.

It was like being back at Oracle Arena or Fiserv Forum all over again.

Jan. 24, 2020: Siakam Shows Madison Square Garden His All-Star Swag

View this video on YouTube


The Raptors found themselves in a tougher-than-expected battle in New York against the Knicks, and while Julius Randle and Marcus Morris have had their moments this season, Damyean Dotson popping off with 21 points off the bench was a major surprise that Toronto could not have accounted for.

With the defending champs’ lead down to a point with just over a minute remaining, the Raptors put the ball in the hands of their newly minted first-time All-Star and the Cameroonian delivered.

Handling the ball at the top of the arc, Siakam called for a screen from VanVleet to draw a switch away from Morris, but some miscommunication on the Knicks’ part opened a lane and Siakam took full advantage to get all the way to the basket for the slam. Then, with New York now playing him for the drive and going under the screen, Siakam showed he can punish that, too, by pulling up for the dagger three-pointer and finding nothing but the bottom of the net.

Jan. 26, 2020: Siakam Channels His Inner Mamba on Heartbreaking Day

View this video on YouTube


It was a day when basketball was the last thing on people’s minds. Kobe Bryant, along with his daughter and seven other people, tragically passed away in a helicopter crash. The NBA decided to proceed with games that night, and so the Raptors and Spurs paid a classy tribute by dribbling out 24 seconds of the shot clock on each of their first possessions in memory of Bryant’s number during the second half of his career.

Once the game began, Siakam was one of the few who looked fit to play a game, scoring a franchise-record 25 points in the first quarter with Kobe-like ease. The Raptors earned their seventh straight win.

Kyle Lowry sets up Terence Davis to become the @Raptors all-time franchise leader in assists. pic.twitter.com/mPWhJzbQIR

— NBA (@NBA) January 29, 2020

Six-time All-Star, NBA champion, and on this night, Lowry became the Raptors’ all-time leader in assists.

With under eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and the game well in hand, Lowry threw a quick hit-ahead pass off an inbounds to Terence Davis who finished with lay-in. No one cheered from the bench more enthusiastically than Siakam and VanVleet, two of the future cornerstones of the franchise. Lowry finished the night with 12 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds, and a ridiculous plus-32. A fitting close to an unforgettable night.

Toronto has been through the ups and the downs with Lowry, and this was another feather in his cap as he cements his legacy as the Greatest Raptor of All-Time.

“I’ll celebrate it once I retire but it was awesome,” Lowry said after the game. “To be able to get it here tonight in front of the home crowd, in front of Vince, the longevity I’ve been here, passing a guy like Jose [Calderon] who’s one of the best point guards in this franchise’s history—one of the greats out there in European basketball, to be able to pass him, it meant a lot.”

Jan. 30, 2020: Powell Plays Hero in Cleveland

View this video on YouTube


In what was becoming a concerning trend at the time, the Raptors were letting another big lead slip away in the closing stages of a game. After looking in control with a 14-point lead early in the fourth quarter, the Cavaliers came within a single point and Darius Garland missed a free throw that would have tied the game with 78 seconds to play.

Thirteen seconds later, Powell silenced the crowd with a three-pointer from the right corner, picked off a pass, and threw down a trademark dunk with 35 seconds to play—and then hit another three free-throws for a personal 8-0 run that helped seal the game.

Jan. 31, 2020: Players Give Their All to Earn Coaches’ All-Star Nod

View this video on YouTube


All the talk coming into this game was that it was a win the Raptors needed so Nick Nurse and the rest of his coaching staff could make the trip to Chicago and seat themselves on the bench for Team Giannis.

Siakam continued to have his merry way against the Pistons, but it seemed almost too good to be true that Nurse would earn his spot at All-Star weekend with a win over Dwane Casey. You’d pay a pretty penny for his thoughts on that.

The game itself was fairly elementary, Toronto opening up a 10-point lead at the end of the first quarter and riding that momentum the rest of the way.

Raptors announcer Jack Armstrong got FIRED UP yesterday when Bulls coach Jim Boylen called a timeout with a minute left and his team down 25

"It's Super Bowl Sunday, I want to get out of here!" 😅

— CBC Sports (@cbcsports) February 3, 2020

Davis was a football star as a senior at Southaven High School before making the decision to pursue basketball as a career. Toronto is thrilled he did so.

The 22-year-old has racked up career-high after career-high seemingly week after week sometimes, and on this particular Sunday afternoon, he dropped 31 points on 15 shots to send the Bulls packing.

The highlight of the game came at the very end, though, when John Beilein called a timeout with just over a minute remaining and the Bulls trailing by 25. Local star broadcaster Jack Armstrong was absolutely incensed by the decision.

“What are you doing? What strategy are you talking? It’s a 25-point blowout, there’s a minute-four left, it’s Super Bowl Sunday, I wanna get outta here! What strategic adjustment are you making stuck 25? Come on man, this is just… come on, really?”

Beilein has since been relieved of his duties as Cavs head coach.

The Raptors were down 118-108 with 2:27 left.

They ended the game on an 11-0 run to win, capped off by this game winner from Serge Ibaka 🔥 pic.twitter.com/eF4y06lTcX

— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 6, 2020

Trailing by 11 with under three minutes to play, Toronto was in danger of having an 11-game win streak snapped and missing out on a new franchise record. But as this team has shown all season, there’s just no quit in them.

Resorting to a full-court press that gave the Pacers the heebie-jeebies, the Raptors came storming back courtesy of big buckets from Siakam and Lowry, before Ibaka provided the finishing touch with the biggest shot of them all: a game-winning three-pointer with 35 seconds remaining from the right side of the arc just beside where the corner line begins for a one-point win.

It has been one of the more underrated storylines of the Raptors season. With Gasol absent due to a hamstring injury, Ibaka stepped up to the plate yet again with 30 points and seven rebounds to help the Raptors to what was then a franchise-record 12-game winning streak.

In 19 starts as the starting centre this season, Ibaka has averaged 19.6 points, 9.1 rebounds, and a block per game while shooting 46.5 percent from three-point range. There are plenty of teams that he could be the full-time starting option for, but his commitment to winning and desire to be a veteran leader for this group has been exemplary.

Feb. 7, 2020: OG Anunoby Shines Bright in Face of Adversity in Indiana

View this video on YouTube


In a microcosm of the season, the Raptors were dealt injury blows and kept marching forward. With Powell and Gasol already absent, Lowry was forced to exit due to whiplash after awkwardly colliding with Ibaka. Earlier in the night, Siakam was poked in the eye and was hardly the same player who started out the game 5-for-6, finishing 1-of-14 the rest of the way.

What this Toronto team has learned about itself, though, is that no matter the circumstance, they have the ability to give themselves a chance against anyone with their defence. The Raptors allowed just 43 points to the Pacers in the second half of this game, making any and every passing angle seem impossible by intercepting everything Indiana tried.

Leading the charge on that front was OG Anunoby. He finished the game tying his career-high in steals with five (he had 16 mostly timely points, too), as many as the Pacers had in total. Indiana turned the ball over 20 times in all, helping the Raptors keep up their winning ways.

This isn't a *bad* set from Brooklyn but...only down 1 it felt like a lot. Loop for LeVert, fake a P&R with Chandler into a stagger for Harris who screens for LeVert. The problem is the Raptors end up switching Siakam on to Harris and Anunoby does a great job fighting over. pic.twitter.com/Wh21onYCWe

— Steve Jones Jr. (@stevejones20) February 9, 2020

It seemed as though Caris LeVert was just destined to end the Raptors’ streak. Pouring in a career-high 37 points including three straight baskets that tied the game with 35.4 seconds remaining, Toronto had to be smarting after letting yet another double-digit lead slip away.

Hanging by a thread after Siakam hit 1-of-2 at the free-throw line, Anunoby was tasked with coming up with the goods matched up against LeVert. First, the Nets guard tried to free himself courtesy a screen from Joe Harris as he went left, no luck. He crossed right, Anunoby stuck right with him. With nowhere else to go, LeVert hoisted a prayer over Anunoby’s right arm that caught nothing but air. The Raptors still needed a bit of luck after Harris corralled the offensive board and missed a layup, but it was one of those moments where Anunoby earned Toronto a bit of luck.

Feb. 10, 2020: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson Goes Full Hustle Man Against the Wolves

View this video on YouTube


Of all the ways Toronto has found to win a game this season, this was certainly among the most fascinating. With Gasol already out of the lineup, Serge Ibaka picked up flu-like symptoms and was ruled out just a couple hours before tip-off. Check the scarf.

With no real starting centre option available to him, Nick Nurse perhaps borrowed from Mike D’Antoni’s latest small-ball adventure and turned to Hollis-Jefferson to go up against one of the premier big man scorers in Karl-Anthony Towns.

In the first minute of the game, Hollis-Jefferson stretched out to the perimeter and forced Towns to pass the ball off, then secured the rebound and ran the length of the floor, running right into Towns’ chest and finishing for the opening points of the game. Message delivered.

The 25-year-old finished with a season-high 21 points, six rebounds and three steals on sheer will and desire helped the Raptors to their 15th straight win.

Latest in Sports