Trent Jr. at the buzzer, Flynn provides a boost off the bench, and the Raptors win against Washington

by Holly MacKenzie

As the final buzzer sounded, Fred VanVleet was already halfway across the court. Beginning his sprint as Gary Trent Jr.’s buzzer-beating game winner sailed through the net, VanVleet was the first to reach Trent and wrap him up in a celebratory hug. The rest of the team quickly followed, mobbing Trent in celebration of the shot that completed a 19-point comeback to give the Toronto Raptors a 103-101 victory over the Washington Wizards on Monday.

“He can shoot it,” Malachi Flynn said of new teammate Trent. “And he’s not afraid to shoot it.”

There wasn’t time to be anything but ready when Trent grabbed the defensive rebound off a miss from Raul Neto with 4.4 seconds left and the Raptors trailing Washington 101-100. Immediately taking it the other way, Trent created space for himself at the top of the arc and drilled a three-pointer as time expired.

“Gary caught that thing, the rebound, facing the open floor,” Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said. “I almost called [a timeout]. It’s always kinda like bang-bang, you’re making a split second decision there, but I thought he got the rebound facing the right direction. I looked up and there was what, 5.3 seconds or something and I thought, ‘Well, here we go.’”

They went, Trent scored, and the Raptors won their second game in a row for the first time in a month. After a series of close losses in Trent's first few games with the team, he was ready to help the team start a new winning streak.

“Make a play,” Trent said of what was going through his head when he came down with the loose rebound. “There was about five seconds left on the clock when I grabbed the rebound. I went down there, wanted to get a clean look. Felt like if I got a clean look off, I had a pretty good chance if I could get a clean look off, and it did.”

Trent has gotten a lot of clean looks off in his short time since joining the Raptors in Tampa. This is just his sixth game in a Raptors uniform after being traded to Toronto at the trade deadline along with Rodney Hood in exchange for Norman Powell. He has already set a new career-high with a 31-point performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder and contributed 24 points in a victory against the Golden State Warriors where he also set a Raptors franchise record, finishing a +54 in the win To those on the outside, his hot start with the Raptors may be a surprise; To Trent, it’s what can happen when opportunity meets preparedness.

“The opportunity thing,” he said. “Being here, the coaching staff believing in me, telling me to keep going, [and] my teammates [are] doing a great job at helping me to feel a part of this,” Trent Jr. said.

In a normal season, a game-winner like Trent’s would have made the crowd at Scotiabank Arena erupt. Instead, Trent and Hood are both Toronto Raptors, but have yet to step foot in Canada, let alone in Toronto, or Scotiabank Arena. Still, Trent says he can feel the love and support flooding in from all over.

“The organization and my teammates have done a great job of making sure I feel part of something, as if they want me here,” he said. “I still get so much love from the fans, throughout the internet, good game, bad game, every DM, everything. They still show love regardless. I can only imagine what it’s like in person. I cannot wait to get out there.”

Trent’s game-winner came in a game where the Raptors were without Kyle Lowry (right foot), Fred VanVleet (left hip), Rodney Hood (right hip), Patrick McCaw (left knee) and Paul Watson (health and safety protocols). The Wizards were without Bradley Beal (hip contusion), Rui Hachimura (right shoulder), and Daniel Gafford (ankle), but led 74-55 with 8:40 remaining in the third quarter. Toronto cut Washington’s lead to 11 going into the fourth. The Raptors went on to lead by six midway through the final quarter before a three-pointer from Russell Westbrook gave the Wizards a 101-100 lead, leading into Trent’s game-winner. 

In addition to Trent’s 16 points, the Raptors were led by a 22-point effort from Pascal Siakam, and 16 points from Flynn off the bench. Flynn took advantage of the extra minutes up for grabs with Lowry and VanVleet sidelined on Monday. The rookie also stuffed the stat sheet, finishing with six rebounds, four assists, four steals and three blocks in addition to 16 points in 34 minutes off the bench.

With VanVleet listed as questionable heading into the game, Flynn approached Monday’s game with the same mindset that served Trent in its final possession. 

“Always be ready,” Flynn said. “ Whatever happens, gotta be ready for it.”


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