Title: OG Anunoby offers solace as size, injuries, Nikola Jokic catch up with Raptors
Date: March 1, 2020
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about injuries and size catching up to the Raptors in Denver and OG Anunoby offering some positivity within a loss.
DENVER — Nikola Jokic corralled the defensive rebound in his right hand, turned upcourt with his eyes already on his target and launched the pass. At no point did Jokic consider putting his left hand on the ball. He didn’t consider dribbling up the floor. He didn’t seem to consider any option than what has become the obvious one for him: catch, turn and fire.
Kyle Lowry knew this was coming. As soon as it was clear Jokic was coming down with the board — and it was clear early, with no Raptors presence around the rim — Lowry turned and sprinted toward his own basket, eyes on Jokic over his left shoulder. Lowry has seen enough of Jokic to know what comes next in these situations, and if anyone is smart enough to match creative on-court wit with Jokic, it’s Lowry. And so Lowry broke out into a sprint, and then a leap, right arm outstretched in hopes of getting any piece of the ball.
When Lowry’s fingertips couldn’t quite alter the path of the ball, Gary Harris was waiting to take advantage. Harris had sprinted down the right wing the second it looked secure to leave the defensive zone, a matter of routine for Denver’s perimeter players. If a play doesn’t require crashing the glass, they are leaking out on offense, awaiting any number of nifty Jokic hit-aheads or, in this case, an outright touchdown pass. This one landed right between Harris’ hands, hitting him in the chest. NFL legend Peyton Manning and Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock, both in attendance, might have blushed. Jokic could not have hit Harris more in stride, requiring only a gather and a bank for the layup.
There is nothing to do about a play like that, where Jokic’s singular ability as the league’s best passing big man leaves even your best, most well-intentioned, well-anticipated efforts a fingertip short.
Related: The Raptors lost to the Nuggets 133-118 on Sunday.