Raptors complete the back-to-back sweep of Brooklyn


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Malachi Flynn has not had things go much his way in his sophomore season, but he’s getting a chance now and doing everything in his power to make it count.

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For the second night in a row Flynn, along with Scottie Barnes and this time with Pascal Siakam mostly back to his pre-all-star form leading the way, the Raptors finished off the back-to-back win in as many days over the Brooklyn Nets, this one much closer at 109-108.

On Monday night, the Raptors stunned the Nets with quick-strike aggression and tenacity.

Last night the Nets were ready for the attack. On top of that the Nets bench came to play, denying what had been a huge advantage a night earlier.

But all that was denied as first Flynn and then Barnes helped the Raptors back from a late nine-point deficit to flip the script.

Flynn looked every bit the floor general every point guard in the NBA aspires to be dishing out assists and putting teammates in a position to succeed.

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When he wasn’t helping others he was contributing from a scoring 15 points to go with his eight assists and six assists.

He was also there defensively in the final few minutes standing in the way of LaMarcus Aldridge, who dwarfs him by 10 inches, forcing a rare miss for the veteran power forward who was on fire for most of the second half.

“It was tricky,” Raptors’ head coach Nick Nurse said of that final stretch the Raptors played without Siakam who fouled out. “It wasn’t an easy scenario, they were still sitting in a zone, we’d run a play, it’d get knocked out of bounds and we’d have to call another one. There was a lot of play calling going on in the last three minutes.

“I was trying to keep him going with another wrinkle or something and wasn’t perfect play calling but it seemed to end up in the right guy’s hand a lot down the stretch and they made some plays,” Nurse said. “It wasn’t like they were working perfectly as designed but the right guy had the ball and made a play out of some of them.”

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In a nutshell Flynn handled a very tough situation under duress and did so without a lot of veteran help around him.

Barnes, meanwhile, took the baton from Flynn in the final few minutes setting up teammates, scoring and then swatting away a potential game-tying bucket from Seth Curry in the final minute to secure the win.

It was a true team effort as every one of the Raptors starters was in double figures in scoring in a game in which the Raptors were once again down two starters in Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby.

Siakam wound up with 18 points, six assists and eight boards while Gary Trent Jr. led all Raptors with 24 points in the game, his free throws down the stretch a huge part of the Raptors managing to hold off the Nets.

THE DEAL WITH OG

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The face of the Raptors defense has his second opinion and now it’s just a matter of making sure how comfortable, or if the concerned parties are comfortable at all with Anunoby playing with the non-displaced fracture in the ring finger of his right hand.

Anunoby had already played a handful of games with the fracture before persistent pain led to an MRI which revealed the fracture.

The visit Monday with a hand specialist in Los Angeles didn’t reveal anything all the parties didn’t already know, confirming there is a slight fracture and that there was no way to tell for sure how long the fracture has actually been there.

What they did know was it is better than it was in the first exam and they expect that within two weeks or so it should no longer present a problem.

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The issue is do Anunoby and his advisors, or for that matter the Raptors front office, feel comfortable enough to let him play with it still not 100% in the meantime.

“The specialist said it was nearly healed, Nurse said. “It’s getting better everyday. I guess we’re waiting to determine — (if) he’s able to play on it. They said probably within two weeks it would be fully healed, so I guess we’re just trying to decide which route we’re going to take.”

That route will be determined once the parties involved — Anunoby and his representatives, the Raptors front office, their medical staff and the coaching staff — all get together and hash it out.

“We’re talking,” Nurse said. “Yes we are. They’re flying at the moment. We’re waiting to gather the troops here. There’s been some discussion. We’re talking about it and trying to see what the best course of action is. We will agree shortly, I’m sure.”

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WHAT ABOUT FRED

That bruised knee that has been dogging VanVleet cost him another game last night as he sat out both ends of the back-to-back with Brooklyn. As is the case with Anunoby the question is how much risk are all involved willing to deal with to play through the injury.

“’Is there a chance he could (make it worse)?’,” Nurse asked rhetorically. “Yeah. It’s bruised, he could get hit again. He could play, as we’ve seen, as well.

“Obviously it probably gets a lot better with rest, a lot quicker,” Nurse said. “For me, if guys want to play, we’re playing them, if they want to play through it. I know it sounds like a super cliché: Nobody’s super healthy this time of year. Nobody’s ever 100% 60 games in. But it’s true, though. It’s true. I’m not. I’m not 100% at all.”

VanVleet already played on that bad knee two games coming out of the all-star break and only he knows for sure how many more before that.

What both he and the team have to determine is whether the returns of having VanVleet in these coming games are worth it or would it be better off to just hold him out until that bruise is fully healed.

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