The ending didn’t go well for RJ Barrett on Friday, when the Raptors made a furious late-game run in Sacramento with Barrett buried on the bench.
The look on his face told a story of a frustrated player.
He became the story Sunday in Barrett’s finest moment in a Raptors jersey.
It was, albeit, only his fourth game with his new team, but Barrett began with force and he was unrelenting in leading an onslaught that simply overwhelmed the Warriors, who would eventually fall to Toronto, 133-118.
In nine minutes, Barrett scored 19 points.
When the opening half was officially in the books, Barrett had 26, one shy of the season best he set when he played for the New York Knicks with Toronto providing the opposition last month.
The Raptors were quite feeble against the Kings in the opening half Friday night.
In the opening half against Golden State, the Raptors were fabulous in leading 76-49.
Barrett took only 13 shots, but all 13 were in rhythm.
Every heave he took was attempted with confidence as an emphatic and definitive statement would be made by Barrett.
Barrett went 5-of-6 from distance in burying half of the Raptors’ first-half shots from beyond the arc.
The Warriors were much more competitive in the second half.
One adjustment saw Golden State go with a bigger lineup.
Midway through the third quarter, Barrett reached the 30-point mark on a drive by using his dominant left hand.
It became a 10-point game when too many Toronto turnovers and too empty trips on offence would fuel a Warriors run.
The Raptors’ lead would get whittled down to nine points.
A late run allowed Toronto to take a 101-87 advantage into the fourth quarter.
The momentum carried over into the final period that would see Barrett take full advantage of mismatches.
What stood out the most was how Barrett did not settle.
Aggressive from the jump, Barrett maintained that assertiveness for the entire game.
The Raptors fed off Barrett on a night when Toronto’s bench had quite the night with three reserves reaching double figures in scoring.
With the game out of reach and the Warriors clearing their bench with five minutes remaining, Barrett remained in the game.
He did exit about one minute later after Barrett put a bow on his 37-point performance.
He had a big smile on his face when Barrett took his spot on the bench, a far cry from the look he had Friday night.
Hard to find any fault in the way the Raptors approached the game’s opening 12 minutes.
Simply put, they jumped on the host Warriors and were unyielding.
When a team makes 64% of its shots and is able to score 36 first-quarter points, it allows a visiting team to lead by eight.
Mind you, it could have been much more lopsided had the Raptors been able to contain the Warriors’ bench.
Golden State’s eight offensive rebounds prevented a complete blowout until the second quarter rolled around.
The Warriors began the second half by starting three players from their second unit.
Under the department of better late than never comes news of Otto Porter Jr. finally receiving his championship ring from the Golden State Warriors.
When the Raptors visited the Bay Area last season, the veteran’s first year as a Raptor was felled by a foot injury that led to season-ending surgery after he appeared in only eight games.
While he wasn’t in uniform following a knee injury, Porter did accompany the team on its road trip.
As a result, he was able to get his hands on the bling.
Just before tipoff, Steph Curry presented Porter with the ring in a simple ceremony that had fans at Chase Center on their feet and Porter beaming with heartfelt appreciation.
When he joined the Warriors in 2021, Porter signed a veteran minimum contract.
He emerged as a complementary piece on a Golden State team that defeated Boston in six games in the championship series.
Porter’s time in Toronto has been plagued by injuries.
He has appeared in 13 games this season.
Curry, meanwhile, was not very good in an atypical performance that saw the two-time league MVP make only two shots in 30 minutes.
STATE OF FLUX
Once among the league’s heavyweights, the Warriors are the equivalent of a middleweight with the real threat of joining the ranks of a lightweight.
As soon as defensive linchpin Draymond Green was reinstated from his league-imposed 12-game suspension, Golden State lost Chris Paul (hand).
Desperate for any kind of reinforcement, the club recalled forward Gui Santos from the team’s G League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors, in the hours leading up to Golden State’s tip versus the Raptors.
Santos was the 55th pick in the 2022 NBA draft and is in his rookie season with the Warriors.
Pickering’s Cory Joseph is no rookie, but he may get more minutes at the point in the wake of Paul’s misfortune.
Joseph entered Sunday’s game with 3:15 left in the opening quarter.
Four Canadians took part in the game: Joseph, Barrett, Chris Boucher and Andrew Wiggins.
Other than Boucher, who grew up in Montreal, three are from the GTA.
Oakwood Collegiate alumnus Jama Mahlalela, one of Darko Rajakovic’s trusted assistants, made his first visit to the Bay Area after he served on Steve Kerr’s bench for two seasons beginning in 2022.
The highly revered Mahlalela was as an assistant coach and director of player development for the Warriors.