It wasn’t Demar DeRozan or Kyle Lowry or even Jonas Valanciunas who led the Toronto Raptors in scoring Wednesday night in Atlanta. No it was Rockford native Fred Van Vleet.
In 18 minutes of action he scored 19 points. Van Vleet made 6 of 9 night shots from the field including four three-pointers. He was 3-3 at the free throw line.
It was a well-rounded game for Van Vleet. He also had seven rebounds, five assists, two steals and remarkably for his size three blocked shots.
The Raptors beat the Hawks 108-93. The 19 points is three points off of Van Vleet’s NBA career high of 22 that he set January 11 against Cleveland.
Van Vleet’s big performance came only hours after he learned that he was not invited to particpate in the NBA’s Rising Stars event during the NBA All-Star weekend.
“I wasn’t expecting to play anyway because I don’t get those types of accolades.” “Obviously I got a lot of texts from family and friends very disappointed (about not being invited), but whatever. I’m not a guy that needs any motivation but if that was a little bit before the game so be it,” said Van Vleet to reporters following the game.
“I don’t put a lot of stock into that stuff. It would have been a nice accomplishment. Kind of a nod of respect but it didn’t happen. We’ve got bigger things to focus on.”
The Raptors victory Wednesday gives them a record of 32-14. They’re only a game and a half behind the Celtics for the best record in the Eastern Conference and they have the fourth best record in the NBA. Yet the Raptors still often get overlooked in any discussions about the best teams in the league.
“I like it that way, but that’s the way I came up,” says Van Vleet of the lack of respect. “It’s natural for me. I like it that way and I think it can work to your advantage. We’ll have enough accolades at the end of the day if we reach our ultimate goal of being right there at the Finals competing. We’ll have all of that to brag about at the end of the season. We don’t need all this stuff before. It doesn’t amount to anything.”