The best thing to happen to the Toronto Raptors this season are their 52 wins. But not for the reason you’d think.

Sure, 52 wins have clinched the Raptors a playoff spot. It’s even the second-highest mark in team history, and there are still 12 games left.

The real reason winning in Toronto is great however, is it lets you fly off the handle when refs miss calls at the end of close games. In Sunday’s matinee, the Raptors hosted the Oklahoma City Thunder in a routine end-of-season inter-conference game that won’t really affect much of anything.

With 11.7 ticks left on the timer, the Raptors had a legitimate shot at tying the game. Ok, they were down five, but anything is possible, you know?

On the inbound play however, Carmelo Anthony takes it upon himself to glomp onto Pascal Siakam. Not to draw a foul and send the Raptors to the line, but just through the course of events that are Carmelo playing late game defense.

The call goes unnoticed and DeMar DeRozan erupts, stringing together a very visible series of four letter words aimed at referee Marc Davis.

Effectively the lead domino, DeRozan’s anger spills into Serge Ibaka, and then a random fan, who apparently sounds exactly like coach Dwane Casey. In one of the season’s most egregious power trips, a trifecta of Raptors ended the night 11 seconds early as the refs went on to disrupt the already strenuous player-referee relations.

The problems with multiple late game ejections are apparent. For one, it completely deflates the air of competition that allows for historic comebacks when two of a team’s best players and their coach are sent to the locker room. Furthermore, as it happened in the final seconds, the NBA’s soon-to-be-published “Last Two Minutes” report will surely give the rundown of what should have happened.

Toronto however, made the best out of a terrible situation. Sure they lost the game, but three very fortuitous outcomes were realized.

  1. Raptors fans HATE the refs now. This heightened appetite for chanting “REFS, YOU SUCK,” combined the gargantuan, “We don’t get enough respect” chip on their shoulders should carry Toronto deep into the playoffs.
  2. Kyle Lowry’s chuckling response endeared him to the city for the rest of his life. One way to keep fans, even respectful Canadian ones, at ease is by making a bad call seem like a minor infraction. Lowry’s laughing completely ended the refs’ brief power trip, de-legitimizing Davis and his colleagues’ passion-techs in Toronto for the foreseeable future.
  3. The Raptors have bonded more than ever. This one game wasn’t the end-all for their season. But staring down a deep playoff run, these ejections served to cement the Raptors Canadian brotherhood.

So, enjoy the loss, Toronto. A drop in the regular season bucket, your fruits will bear soon enough.

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