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Raptors defeat of Warriors sparks memories of team’s greatest wins

The Toronto Raptors 113-93 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night was arguably one of the best wins in franchise history.

The Warriors have won the NBA title in three of the last four seasons. The Raptors were missing their top player, Kawhi Leonard, and were playing the second half of a back-to-back.

In honour of the victory, here’s a look back at some of the team’s greatest regular-season wins.

5. Raptors vs. Celtics, Jan. 23, 2008

During the 2007 off-season, power forward Kevin Garnett and sharpshooter Ray Allen joined Paul Pierce on the Boston Celtics. 

With the benefit of an extremely deep roster, the Celtics were 33-6 when they welcomed the Raptors to TD Garden in late January 2008.

Toronto trailed by seven points after three quarters, but only faced a one-point deficit with 14.9 seconds to go in the game.

The Raptors shot 15-of-21 from three-point range in the 114-112 victory.  

While it was an exciting win for Raptors fans, it was unrealistic to put too much stock in it. 

Later that year, Toronto lost to Orlando in the first round of the playoffs, while the Celtics beat the Lakers in the NBA Finals to capture their first championship since 1986.

4. Raptors vs 76ers, Jan. 21, 2001

Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers entered the Sunday matinee against the Raptors leading the Eastern Conference with a record of 30-9. Toronto, despite possessing a young superstar in Vince Carter, sported a mediocre record of 21-19.

With the Raptors up 108-104 in overtime, Carter iced the game for Toronto with one of his most memorable non-slam dunk highlight.

Iverson scored 51 points in the game on 20-for-40 shooting. Carter scored 39 points in the overtime win, shooting 5-for-9 from three-point range.

This duel between the teams’ young stars was foreshadowing.

In May 2001, the Raptors and 76ers faced off in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Iverson had two 50-point games in the series while Carter had one. Philadelphia prevailed in seven extremely competitive games.

3. Raptors vs. Cavaliers, Feb. 26, 2016 

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers visited Toronto looking to extend their three-game Eastern Conference lead over the Raptors.

Things seemed to be going their way as the Cavaliers took a 14-point lead at the 3:59 mark of the third quarter.

Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry dominated the rest of the way, scoring 25 points over the final 16 minutes of the game. 

Lowry hit the game-winning jumper over Matthew Dellavedova with three seconds to go to give the Raptors a 99-97 win.

Watch Kyle Lowry’s sink Cavs with winning shot:

Toronto beats Cleveland 99-97. 1:22

The Cavaliers and Raptors would meet again in the Eastern Conference Finals in May 2016. Cleveland defeated Toronto in six games, and went on to beat the Golden State Warriors in seven games to win the NBA Championship.

2. Raptors vs. Bucks, Jan. 1, 2018

New Year’s Day 2018 was all about basketball for Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan.

DeRozan spent his morning watching footage of Michael Jordan’s 1998 NBA Finals performance. At night, he turned in a dominating performance against the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Compton, Calif., native set a franchise record with 52 points in a 131-127 overtime win.

Watch highlights of DeRozan’s historic performance:

DeRozan scored a career-high and franchise-record 52 points in the Raptors 131-127 OT victory over the Milwaukee Bucks 2:04

Toronto’s victory marked the team’s 12th consecutive home win.  

DeRozan’s 52 points eclipsed the team record previously shared by Vince Carter and Terrence Ross, who each scored 51 points.

1. Raptors vs. Bulls, March 24, 1996

The Raptors won just 21 games during the 1995-96 NBA season. But one of their victories was pretty special.  

In late March, the Raptors hosted Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and the Chicago Bulls.

The Bulls entered the game riding a six-game winning streak, with an overall record of 60-7. Toronto, on the other hand, was 17-49.

The outcome appeared to be a foregone conclusion.

The game turned out to be extremely competitive. The Raptors held a 56-54 halftime lead, and led by one with 10 seconds to go in the fourth quarter. 

Damon Stoudamire, Toronto’s 5-foot-10 rookie point guard, starred in the Raptors 109-108 upset win. Stoudamire played 46 minutes, scoring 30 points, and adding 11 assists.

Toronto won just three more games the rest of the year, losing 12 of its last 15 contests.

The Bulls finished the year with a record of 72-10, which marked the most regular-season wins an NBA team had ever recorded until Golden State surpassed that mark with 73 victories in the 2015-16 season. 

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