Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet, left, drives around Orlando Magic guard Cole Anthony (50) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Raptors’ Fred VanVleet scores franchise-high 54 points in win over Orlando

Raptors’ Fred VanVleet scores franchise-high 54 points in win over Orlando

ORLANDO, Fla. — Fred VanVleet, an undrafted guard who famously said “Bet on Yourself,” shot his way into the record books Tuesday.

The fifth-year veteran put on a show with a franchise-record 54 points as the Toronto Raptors defeated the Orlando Magic 123-108. According to Elias Sports, it was also a record points total for an undrafted player — Hall of Famer Moses Malone had 53 against San Diego on Feb. 2, 1982.

The Raptors’ previous single-game scoring record was 52 points, set by DeMar DeRozan against Milwaukee on Jan. 1, 2018. Terrence Ross and Vince Carter each scored 51 in Toronto colours.

“Unbelievable. I’m very humbled and honoured to be in the same sentence as both of those guys (DeRozan and Malone),” said VanVleet. “Just a special night, obviously on a lot of different levels.

“I’m trying to enjoy it for now but it’s not a championship or anything like that. It was a good game for me. I’ll enjoy all the love for a couple of hours and get ready for the next one.”

He said his teammates were more excited than he was. Lowry, who made sure his teammate got the game ball, was all smiles after the game.

“You all know how I feel about him. That’s my little brother, man. I’m proud of him,” said backcourt partner Kyle Lowry, who quietly had his 17th career triple-double (his 15th as a Raptor).

“He’s a winner, simple as that,” he added.

“It’s incredible,” said Toronto coach Nick Nurse. “To be an undrafted guy and to do that. It really is incredible.

“He’s got a pedigree for winning, every team he’s been on his whole life … Just a tremendous competitor, worker, thinker.”

Listed at six foot one, VanVleet makes his living in the land of the giants. But the Wichita State product is hard-working, tough and fearless, negotiating his way through big bodies under the basket or putting up shots from distance.

“I just try to play the game the right way … You play with a pure heart and a clear conscience and a clear soul, then good things happen for you,” he said.

Away from the floor, the 26-year-old from Rockford, Ill., is one of the most thoughtful Raptors, well-spoken and insightful.

Betting on himself paid off last November when he signed a four-year US$85-million contract, another record for an undrafted player. Apparently he has made some big-ticket purchases.

“Look at the watch,” Lowry said as VanVleet followed him in front of the post-game Zoom availability.

VanVleet made 11-of-14 three-point attempts, coming within one of the franchise record of 12 by Donyell Marshall, in March 2005 against Philadelphia. In all, he made 17-of-23 shots and converted all nine free-throw attempts.

The points came naturally. VanVleet was in the right place at the right time more often than. And he took advantage in his 37 minutes on the floor.

“It was easy. No disrespect to the Magic but for most of those I was open … They were clean looks,” said VanVleet.

After three quarters, VanVleet was 11-of-13 from three-point range and had 46 points with teammates looking to feed his hot hand.

He added to his total with two free throws before hitting the 50-mark, cutting to the basket to haul in a lob from Lowry with 5:02 remaining. He tied DeRozan’s record after an Orlando turnover, running unchallenged for a layup with 4:445 left.

The record-breaking bucket came with 3:46 remaining, thanks to another Lowry feed. VanVleet cut into the paint, beating two men before making the layup.

“Congrats to my brotha Freddy V!” tweeted DeRozan. “Kyle old ass couldn’t do it. Glad you did champ! Been telling you!”

DeRozan also called VanVleet after the match to congratulate him personally.

VanVleet’s previous career high was 36 points, set last year against Miami. He is averaging 18.8 points a game this season and 11.1 a game over his career.

VanVleet erased his career mark of seven three-pointers made in a game before the first half was over, making eight-of-nine attempts en route to 28 points in the half. The eight three-pointers were also a franchise record for a half.

“Freddy going crazy!!!” tweeted former Raptor Danny Green.

Toronto (9-12) surged ahead in the third quarter of an entertaining game. Orlando has (8-14) lost four straight and 12 of its last 14.

Lowry had 14 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds. Norm Powell had 23 points.

According to Elias, the last time teammates shared 50 points and a triple-double in the same game was Dec. 3, 2019, when James Harden (50 points) and Russell Westbrook (19 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) were members of the Houston Rockets in a game against San Antonio.

Evan Fournier had 21 for Orlando. Centre Nikola Vucevic recorded his 15th double-double of the season with 21 points and 18 rebounds.

It was the teams’ second meeting in three days. The Raptors ended a three-game losing streak with a 115-102 decision on Sunday in their adopted home of Tampa, leading by as many as 22 points.

Toronto was without OG Anunoby (calf strain) for the fourth game in a row. But Powell, who had missed the two previous games with a quadriceps contusion, returned to action and started.

The Magic came out hot, running up an 11-0 lead while Toronto missed its first seven shots before VanVleet ended the drought with a three-pointer.

“I knew after my first shot went in that I was going to shoot the ball well,” he said.

Fournier scored 12 of Orlando’s first 14 points.

The high-flying Powell had a spectacular dunk in the first half — as well as an equally spectacular miss off the rim. Toronto clawed its way back and led 64-60 at the half.

Orlando started the second half with an 8-0 run to regain the lead. But Toronto turned it on late in the quarter with a 15-0 run to take control.

Orlando was without the injured Aaron Gordon, Michael Carter-Williams, Jonathan Isaac, Markelle Fultz and Al-Farouq Aminu.

The Raptors have now won seven straight against the Magic including all four games last season.

Tuesday’s game at Orlando marked the start of six straight away games in 10 days, Toronto’s longest road trip of the first half of the season. Future stops include Brooklyn on (Friday), Atlanta, Memphis, Washington and Boston. Tuesday was also the start of nine of 10 games on the road.

Orlando hosts the Chicago Bulls on Friday and Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 2, 2021

The Canadian Press

NBA

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lyn Radford, 2019 Canada Winter Games board chair, was named 2020 Sport Event Volunteer of the Year at the Prestige Awards. (File photo by Advocate staff)
WATCH: Lyn Radford wins award for volunteer efforts

The board chair of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer… Continue reading

A candlelight vigil will be held in Red Deer on Thursday to honour the 350-plus people killed in the Easter bombing attack in Sri Lanka. Contributed photo
Candlelight vigil planned for deaths linked to Olymel COVID-19 outbreak

A candlelight vigil is being planned for those who died due to… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels forward Jaxsen Wiebe battles Calgary Hitmen forward Cael Zimmerman for a loose puck when the two teams squared off in February last season. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Calgary Hitmen shutout Red Deer Rebels

Rebels name centre Jayden Grubbe team captain ahead of Friday’s game

Traffic will be delayed on 40th Avenue and 19th Street until the end of February. (Advocate file photo).
Traffic delays expected downtown this weekend

Red Deer drivers will be delayed in the downtown area of the… Continue reading

Bryson, six, and Mara, eight, play with puppies from Dogs With Wings Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
WATCH: Dogs With Wings introduces Red Deer program

A program that trains puppies to be certified service, autism, facility and… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Funeral for Walter Gretzky to be held Saturday in home town of Brantford, Ont.

The funeral for hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s father Walter will take place… Continue reading

A sign for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service building is shown in Ottawa on May 14, 2013. A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the judicial warrant process at Canada's spy agency — an issue that made headlines last summer — stretch back at least nine years. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Spy warrant shortcomings stretch back almost a decade, newly released audit shows

OTTAWA — A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday night’s Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the estimated $29 million… Continue reading

A trial countdown sign marks the days at George Floyd Square, March 4, 2021, in Minneapolis. Ten months after police officers brushed off George Floyd's moans for help on the street outside a south Minneapolis grocery, the square remains a makeshift memorial for Floyd who died at the hand of police making an arrest. The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin will begin with jury selection on March 8. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Officer’s trial could reopen intersection where Floyd died

MINNEAPOLIS — During a group’s recent meeting at the now-vacant Speedway gas… Continue reading

FILE - In this Aug. 30, 2020 file photo Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell calls for an end to violence in the city during a news conference a day after a demonstrator was shot and killed in downtown Portland. Amid protests following the police killing of George Floyd last year Portland dissolved a special police unit designed to focus on gun violence. Critics say the squad unfairly targeted Black people, but gun violence and homicides have since spiked in Oregon's largest city, and some say disbanding the 35-officer unit was a mistake. (Sean Meagher/The Oregonian via AP, File)
As violence surges, some question Portland axing police unit

PORTLAND, Ore. — Elmer Yarborough got a terrifying call from his sister:… Continue reading

Harley Hay
Harley Hay: Just don’t call it cod liver oil

Many people swear that a daily dose of various vitamins is an… Continue reading

Email editor@auburn-reporter.com
Letter: Preserving green spaces in Red Deer

The Advocate published an article Feb. 11 about Sunnybrook residents concerned about… Continue reading

Former Toronto Argonauts lineman Chris Schultz remembered as a gentle giant

Former Toronto Argonauts lineman Chris Schultz remembered as a gentle giant

Most Read