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Green rains three-pointers in Raptors rout of Orlando Magic

Raptors' Danny Green set his Raptors high with 29 points and was five threes away from tying Donyell Marshall’s franchise mark in the 121-109 win.

No, Stephen Curry wasn’t playing for the Toronto Raptors on Monday night. But there was a guy in a No. 14 jersey that shot the ball a lot like the man who is perhaps the best shooter ever.

Danny Green went off from long range, canning 7-of-10 three-point attempts to lead a potent inside-outside Toronto attack. Green set his Raptors high with 29 points and was five threes away from tying Donyell Marshall’s franchise mark in the 121-109 win.

Unfortunately for Green, he jammed his thumb early in the game and, though post-game X-rays were negative, went off for further testing afterward.

“I guess it happened in the first quarter. He got it taped up a little bit at halftime,” said Raptors head coach Nick Nurse.

“It didn’t affect his shooting,” quipped one wise-cracking member of the media.

“It did not,” replied Nurse.

Kawhi Leonard had a quiet 15 points, Serge Ibaka added 15 off of the bench, starter Marc Gasol 13 as the Raptors easily overcame a rare Pascal Siakam off-night (six points on 2-for-9 shooting. Evan Fournier led Orlando with 21 points.

The Raptors shot 50% from the field, including 19-for-37 from beyond the arc and won the Atlantic Division title for the fifth time in the past seven seasons, something Nurse said afterward the team takes “some satisfaction in” since other squads (think Boston and Philadelphia) entered the year favoured.

Before the game, Nurse had mused Orlando might simply be a bad matchup for his team, having won two meetings already this season between the clubs and losing another on a Green buzzer-beater in Florida.

A team fighting for its playoff life (half-a-game back of Miami for the final post-season spot in the East heading in) Orlando’s likely seen quite enough of Green this season, thank you.

The Magic once again played Toronto tough early on, though, playing a stellar offensive first half on the way to building a lead that was as high as 11 points. However, hot shooting by the Raptors allowed the home side to go on a 19-2 run to take a 10-point lead into halftime and a big third pushed the advantage up to 20. Orlando made a late run when the starter had been pulled to make the final score look closer than the game actually was.

Toronto reached 55 wins for the third time in four seasons after never winning that many over the franchise’s first 20 seasons.

Leonard was back in the lineup after sticking around in New York, but OG Anunoby missed another game due to concussion-like symptoms and his return remains up in the air, though he was in the building.

Toronto is at Brooklyn, a potential first-round opponent, on Wednesday and at Charlotte on Friday.

BOUCHER TAKES HOME MVP

Raptors 905 big man Chris Boucher was the class of the NBA G League this season — and he now has the awards to prove it.

The Montreal native became the first international player to earn league Most Valuable Player honours, and he also was named defensive player of the year, becoming the first player to win both in the same season.

Boucher, who originally signed a two-way contract with the Raptors and has spent time in the G League and with the big club, averaged 27.2 points, 11.4 rebounds and 4.1 blocked shots in 28 games with Raptors 905. The team went 20-8 with Boucher in the lineup, 9-13 without.

Boucher’s contract was converted to a standard NBA contract in February.

Boucher said he didn’t think he’d be in the running for MVP because he might not have played enough games, so was pleasantly surprised to get the nod after predicting he’d get the double prior to the season.

“Usually when I say something, it’s because I’m pretty confident I can get it,” Boucher said in a pre-game scrum that drew the attention of teammates such as Kawhi Leonard (“big-time”), Fred VanVleet (“woo-woo”) and Malcolm Miller (“MVP”).

“I need a lot of dedication. You got ups and downs. If you want to be successful, you have to have that,” Boucher said of taking the next step.

“If you have a lot of dedication and you believe in yourself, you’ve got a chance to make it.”

Boucher said he hopes to continue to grow as a player, emulating former Raptors 905ers and current Raptors teammates such as Pascal Siakam, VanVleet and Norman Powell, who have all flourished this season. Siakam won Finals MVP when Raptors 905 won its championship and Lorenzo Brown won league MVP with the club last season.

905 HAS DELIVERED

Raptors 905 has been nothing short of a rousing success since first tipping off back in 2015. There’s been on-court success and, more importantly, fine development work by the coaching staffs there that has helped the likes of Siakam, VanVleet, Powell and Delon Wright get vastly better, along with Boucher and Jordan Loyd, who also had a G League MVP case this season.

“Yeah, it’s been great,” Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said. “I think we’ve seen the impact it’s had for us on a lot of levels. We’ve had some games, there’s a couple different scenarios. There’s the development of Pascal, there’s the development of Fred, Norm. There’s also been some games over the years where we’ve kind of cherry-picked some guys. You guys remember last year we pulled up Malcolm Miller and started him at Indiana and put him on (Victor) Oladipo, and he did a great job on him.

“So a couple wins that they’ve contributed to the Raps. So it’s been great. I think it’s been a great learning environment for our coaches, (Jerry) Stackhouse, Jesse Mermuys, now Jama (Mahlalela). So they’re really doing it good, it’s really, really nice and convenient that it’s so close and those guys that are going back and forth are logging a lot of practices and minutes and all kinds of stuff. It’s really helping their development and it’s helping our team.”

AROUND THE RIM

More bad news for long-time Raptors centre Jonas Valanciunas, who has played extremely well since being traded to Memphis. Valanciunas will miss the rest of the season after suffering a Grade II right ankle sprain. Valanciunas averaged 19.9 points, 10.7 rebounds and 1.6 bocks in 17 games for the Grizzlies … There were two Montreal NBAers in town, with the Magic bringing Khem Birch off of the bench. Both Birch and Boucher hope to play for Canada at the World Cup in September if possible … Danny Green started Monday’s game 6-of-7 from the field, including 4-for- 5 from three. Green had shot 53% from three over his past 15 games, fourth in the NBA. Leading the way in that span? Hamilton’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander at 59.4%.

@WolstatSun

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