TORONTO – In the NBA, everyone has a story, making NBA teams living, breathing, sweating libraries.
Toronto Raptor's collection continues to expand, the shelves bent under the weight.
The title of the title was Kawhi Leonard who struck a groundbreaking case with just under five seconds left when the Raptors crossed the visiting Brooklyn Nets 127-125 to win their fifth straight game and improved to 42-16. It was a nice follow-up to help Danny Green on the match – tie three to the previous possession when Raptors survived an 8-0 Nets asked in the last two minutes.
Leonard, who tends towards serious, could even joke about it.
Did he call the bank, was he asked? "No, I didn't," says Leonard, whose integrity can never be questioned after this point. "I played and told the guys I called games."
These kinds of details play a role, but even on a night of high drama, the Raptors are so much more than a box, never more than on a chilly everyday evening in February with the star star being threatened as a four-boat.
Just one example among many: Monday night, 34-year-old Marc Gasol played a home game for a team other than Memphis Grizzlies for the first time since October 2008.
He entered the match at 3:03 in the first quarter and got a standing ovation and tips on a Marc Gasol chant.
"Yes, it gives you the butterflies in your stomach when you get them," he said. "Make you feel like a rookie again. It's a good feeling, a good feeling."
He did his usual – smart ball movement, subtle, intelligent defense – in the beginning. But the crowd's belief was rewarded for a five-minute stretch at the beginning of the fourth quarter when the three-time star enlightened Nets bigs for 11 quick points, including a dull triple and a running hook across the track.
"When you start to see the ball go through the net a little more, you start to feel good, and you see your teammates and your coaches get excited too," Gasol said. "It's a cool moment to have. At the end I got a little tired and had to come out."
When he sat down, the raptors had gone from bound to seven up by just under six minutes to play as Gasol finished with 16 points in nine shots, six rebounds and two helping 22 minutes.
"There was a hedge of stretch for him," nurse said. "Really impressive."
Raptor's history all year round has concentrated around Leonard, who has been considered the key to Raptors to change his story as the team that can't get it done in the playoffs. So far, he has been as advertised to deliver MVP caliber basketball as long as he has been on the floor.
He did it again Monday when he led all the painters with 30 points and contributed a career-high bond eight also assist.
But on the way into the game against the net, Raptor's head coach Nick Nurse twisted the script a bit. Leonard came out with his first leg of under-par games this season – a four-game race where he only shoots 34.5 percent off the floor and 31 percent from deep, a rare slider for one of the NBA's most consistent players. In particular, on Saturday against Knicks, he saw less than energized as the starters almost ended at Madison Square Garden in the first quarter. Leonard was largely invisible and ended with 11 points in 15 shots.
The nurse is the positive in his public comments and you can understand why he might want to be pampered from calling out Leonard, an ongoing free agent who the club is trying to convince to stay after this season.
But the nurse felt the need to assert himself, and with a crack he went for it:
"I just think he has to get a little more engaged, right? Just a little more engaged. And look for some more motivation, right?" He said about Leonard, who leads the raptors in scoring and rebounding. "Going out there and I don't do his thing, I always say go out and" ruin some people "or whatever it is. You know? You have to get motivated."
Perhaps he was bored with his recently completed 22-match game stretch of at least 20 points during which he averaged 30.5 points and 7.5 rebounds on 52.3 percent shooting?
"A little bit, and I'm kind of serious about it," said the nurse. "He has to find a little bit of fire once at a time to go out there and say" You know what? I get 35 or 40 tonight. "You know?"
Or beat the game winner. It also works. Leonard didn't mind sticking to a high standard:
"I didn't know until now," he said. "But when a coach is like that, you want that motivation. They can see it. They see between the game's lines. Even if you go out and have 20 points and you win, you want a coach who motivates you and tells you what you still doing that is negative on the floor that costs your team. I appreciate that he puts it in the air. "
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So not a bad result. For those who wonder how the story of Leonard in Toronto will end, perhaps the nurse feels comfortable enough to talk the truth to his powerful waiting for freer dwelling well.
It says something that the most interesting story of the day was not necessarily Gasol at all, or even a guy on the roaster yet. The big Spain's debut competed for attention with mid-afternoon news that Raptors will sign Jeremy Lin from the Atlanta Hawks when veteran sentry clears exemption.
"Another quiet day in Raptorland" joked nurse who can't comment on Lin until he is officially under contract, which can be as soon as Wednesday afternoon is given it will take him 48 hours to clear the exception.
Timing could not be better as backstay guard Fred VanVleet has been excluded for up to three weeks with a partial ligament injury on his left thumb and reserve Delon Wright was included in the trading package for Gasol, which left the cabinet straight at point protection position after Lowry.
Lin is best known for "Linsanity" – an incredible stretch with the New York Knicks in the 2011-12 season when he averages 24 points and nine helps a game after becoming a starter of necessity due to a lot of injuries. the top comes with a game-winning three on Valentine's Day in Toronto. His status as the NBA's most immediate recognizable player of Asian descent – Harvard degree who chose hoops – made him a worldwide celebrity almost overnight. Eventually, however, Lin has cut out a solid nine-year career with the 218 NBA starting its name. His aggression should help the Raptors in important moments when they need another playmaker on the floor.
"Heck of a supplement for the Raptors," said Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson who coached Lin in Brooklyn for two of his best seasons. "… He is an elite competitor. Everyone competes in this league. But I think there is a pocket with guys going above and beyond … … [And he’s] very smart. And versatile. He can play one, two … excellent pickup. "
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Raptor's history continues to evolve.
On the sub-card, Monday was the news that Chris Boucher's two-way contract had been transformed into a perfect NBA deal. not bad for a Montreal kid who worked the grill at St-Hubert BBQ after high school before being discovered when he was playing in a pick-up tournament with some friends. He went to junior college and then went undrafted after tearing his ACL during his high season in Oregon. But he continued. He didn't let anyone else write his story, tore up the G-League for Raptors 905 and got his reward.
He fits right into a team that does not have a single player on the roster taken in the draft lottery – unusual for a team that has a legitimate shot in an NBA finals. Leonard is the most elaborate player he took 15th overall. The violent New York Knicks have six lottery picks on their roster. The networks – which have not had their own first round of five seasons – have two. Meanwhile, Gasol was a second round pick. Lin was undrafted – like VanVleet, who should he fill in – and Boucher.
"That's why I feel that Toronto is a good team, everyone has their own story," Boucher said. "Everyone has gone through many things to get there and they do not take it for granted. Yes, they are happy to be here, they got their opportunity, but now they want to excel what they do and I think I am not different. "
The stories are great and they continue to come in what is set out as probably the most fascinating season in franchise history; The plot turns arrives on the usual.
What is left is how the story will end. However, it should be good to read.