By Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press on July 30, 2020.
TORONTO – Unbeaten Raptors Uprising GC set a pair of NBA 2K League single-season records with its 15th straight win Thursday, sweeping Lakers Gaming in esports play.
Toronto (15-0) will go after the perfect season next Friday when it closes against Cavs Legion GC (4-7) ahead of the playoffs.
Blazer5 Gaming held the previous records for both single-season wins and consecutive regular-season wins at 14 – both set last year during a 14-2 campaign.
Despite some patchy play, Toronto turned it on when it needed to in Game 1 Thursday for a 90-85 victory. Normal service resumed in Game 2 as the Raptors crushed the Lakers 99-68 to sweep the best-of-three series.
Star point guard Kenneth (Kenny Got Work) Hailey had 42 points and 11 assists in Game 1 while three other Raptors finished in double figures. Canadian rookie point guard Sten (Sav) Valge-Saar led the Lakers with 36 points and 16 assists.
Hailey added 36 points and 14 assists in Game 2 while centre Jerry (Sick One) Knapp contributed 28 points and 11 rebounds.
Including tournament play, Toronto is 24-0 this season. But the Raptors had their hands full with Kings Guard Gaming on Wednesday night, winning 64-63 and then 92-89, in double overtime.
While the Raptors have rewritten the league record book this season, they are well aware that Blazer5 Gaming tipped the regular-season standings both of the previous two years but fizzled out in the playoffs.
Ten of the league’s 23 teams will make the 2020 post-season.
Lakers Gaming (3-12) came into play Thursday on the back of a series win over Heat Check Gaming the previous night that saw Valge-Saar pour in 50, 22 and a career-high 52 points.
Toronto also extended its own record for consecutive wins to start a season (the previous mark was 10 by Mavs Gaming last year.
Regular-season games were one-off contests in the league’s first two seasons before switching to best of-three series in remote play this year. A series win equals one regular-season victory in 2020.
Toronto trailed by as many as nine during an indifferent first quarter of Game 1 but reeled off a 7-0 run, punctuated by a Hailey three-pointer, to close the gap to 19-17 at the end of the quarter. Hailey scored 15 of those points.
The Raptors turned it on with a 20-6 run to open the second quarter and led 44-33 at the half. After trailing by 13, the Lakers took advantage of some sloppy Toronto play in the third to close the gap to 51-50 before the Raptors regained control to lead 65-58 going into the final quarter.
The Raptors trailed early in Game 2 but led 48-37 at the half thanks to a 17-2 second-quarter run. Toronto cruised through the second half to seal the deal.
Toronto improved its career record against the Lakers to 5-0, including a pool play win at The Tipoff tournament that saw Hailey almost outscore the Lakers single-handedly with 58 points in a 105-59 victory.
In additions to dominating the regular season, Toronto is the first team to win the first two in-season tournament – capturing the US$260,000 Turn last weekend and the $160,000 Tipoff in June. Those victories were worth a total of $187,000 to the Raptors.
Hailey became the first multi-tournament MVP in league history and the first to win three player of the week awards in one season.
The Raptors have also set the league’s single-game scoring record twice (June 12 in 109-51 win over Celtics Crossover Gaming and July 16 in 112-62 victory over Pacers Gaming).
And they became the earliest in league history to qualify for the post-season, after a July 2 series win over Gen.G Tigers.
Toronto, eliminated in the quarterfinals in 2018, missed the playoffs last season at 8-8.
Hailey and Knapp were retained from last season with Trent (Timelycook) Donald, Maurice (ReeceMode) Flowers and Jake (Legit 973) Knapp, Jerry’s younger brother, arriving via the February draft.
Donald, one of the league’s premier lockdown defenders, spent the 2018 season with Kings Guard Gaming but was suspended last year for violating the league’s social media policy.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 30, 2020.
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